Sunday, November 13, 2016

Response to "I am."

Several of my friends posted links to this article in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election to explain their votes.

I posted this comment to her blog, but it never showed up. I don't know why. In any case, I'm trying to paraphrase it as best I can, because of course, what I typed disappeared into the ether of the internet, never to be seen again.

"You seem like a reasonable, honset and intelligent person. I'm trying to understand your side. You do not see yourself as bigoted, racist, sexist or homophobic. You are hurt by the criticism of those who say that your vote was an endorsement of racism, homophobia and bigotry.

"You put a lot of effort and thought into your decision. To quote you, 'I am happy that trade and markets will once again be free. I am happy that we are going to attack terrorism more aggressively instead of being walked all over. I am happy that jobs will be brought back into the United States. I am happy that small business owners will finally be able to reap the benefits of hard work and dedication.'

"Three out of those four reasons have to do with the perception of improved chances of economic success for the middle class under Trump. Even if we assume that's true, how do you justify placing the wealth of any one group of people ahead of the physical safety of another?"

That is my question to those of you I specifically linked to come here. You posted this, so you're endorsing her viewpoint. How do you justify placing your economic gain over the safety of others?

Help Me Understand

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood." - Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Ok, Trump-supporters, there are some things I don't understand and I need you to explain them to me.

I've seen a lot of you claiming Trump is a morally superior candidate to Clinton. Please explain this, because I just can't see it. The explanations I've run across so far are unconvincing.

"Clinton is a liar." True, but so is Trump. If you believe he's an honest person, God help your soul.

"Clinton is corrupt" or "Clinton is a criminal." Again, this is true, but so is Trump. If you think Trump hasn't done thousands of unethical and illegal things throughout his business career, I've got a lovely bridge to sell you.

"Clinton is motivated only by self-interest." I thought we covered this already. So is Trump.

All of these criticisms of Clinton are true, but they are just as true of Trump. They do not distinguish the two major party candidates. You need to give me a better reason than that.

"Clinton is Pro-Choice." - True. Where Trump actually stands on this issue is debatable, as he has endorsed both sides. Call me a cynic, but I think his more recent endorsement of the Pro-Life stance, which happens to coincide with the viewpoint of the majority of members of the political party he joined in order to run for president, is motivated by self-interest rather than deep conviction of the value of fetal life.

"Trump is a Christian." Oh, is he now? Jesus said we can recognize his followers by their actions. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." If you say you voted for Trump because you believe he represents the more Christ-like stance, I challenge you to show me three examples in which he shows the fruit of the Spirit.

This is the real issue I have with all of my Christian friends who voted for Trump. I know we were all raised to believe that conservatism is equated to moral superiority, but when the conservative candidate is Donald J. Trump, how can you justify that?

I firmly believe that Jesus would never support Trump (or Clinton, for that matter). Jesus advocated love for all, embracing those who are different from you, and protecting the poor and oppressed.

I firmly believe that Jesus also would never riot or attack people who supported Trump, or any minority person.

What would Jesus do? He would engage people in discussion. He would treat people with respect. He would hold people accountable for their choices. He would preach and peacefully demonstrate. Quite possibly, he would flip some tables.

I'm ready to flip some tables in Jesus' name.

But first, I'm trying to understand and engage you all in a discussion. So I'll repeat my plea from the beginning of this essay: please explain to me why you think Trump is morally superior to Clinton.

Why I've Abandoned My Apolitical Stance

If you know me at all, you know that I'm not a melodramatic person. I'm usually very nonconfrontational. To the best of my recollection, I never posted anything politcal on Facebook in the 9.5 years I've been there prior to 11/8/16. I've never been one to proselytize. In fact, for most of my life, I've avoided politics as much as possible, seeing it as a negative and corrupting influence.

I'm talking about politics now because I cannot in good conscience keep quiet any longer. Many people I care about supported Trump. I believe this was a monumental mistake and I'm trying to understand how people I know to be caring, intelligent people could have made such a disastrous error in judgment.

I'm writing about politics now because I believe most of you are well-meaning people, not evil or hateful. I believe you are open-minded enough to try to understand a different viewpoint, intelligent enough to recognize logic and mature enough to admit when you've made a mistake and learn from it.

If I'm right and we can have a respectful discussion about this, then maybe we can work together for change. If I'm wrong, at least I'll be able to sleep at night, knowing that I've tried.

The stakes are high. Despite the polarization brought about by this election, nearly everyone I've had political conversations with agrees on numerous important points:

  • Neither of the major political party candidates this season was an appropriate choice to run our country
  • Neither major party truly represents the will of the American people anymore
  • Money has too much control of our government
  • Our healthcare system is on the brink of collapse and the Affordable Care Act has not helped in a meaningful way
  • Crime, violence, terrorism, unemployment, homelessness, racism and abortions are undesirable
  • Hard work and good ideas ought to result in success
  • The social safety net needs to be re-examined and restructured to more effectively provide for the needs of truly disabled Americans while encouraging all people to be as productive as possible
If we work together, we can generate substantive change. In order to work together, we have to listen to each other respectfully. This is going to be hard for people on both sides right now. But I believe the effort is worth it. 

The stakes are high.