Votes Cast, Conscience Clear–in the Aftermath of the Election

I’m writing this post on Friday, three days after Donald Trump’s election as America’s 45th president. My candidate did not win. My hopes were not realized. The outcome was very close—today’s headlines report Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote and Mr. Trump the electoral (and decisive) count. The transfer of power has begun, but the country will not be at peace for a long time to come.

We’re in Armenia today. We’ve been out of the country since July, so we followed the campaign surrounded by people in Mexico, England, Ireland, Scotland, and France. They have reminded us that while only Americans can vote, they also have a stake in the outcome. They anxiously watched the vitriolic campaigning. Their keen interest reminded us America’s president leads not only the United States but what we used to call the Free World. Well, the election is over and it wasn’t rigged. Mr. Trump won the electoral war. Now his challenge is to win the post-election peace. This will be the real test of his leadership. It’s one thing to divide and conquer. It’s quite another thing to establish and promote peace.

In truth, the election didn’t settle much. It wouldn’t have, either, if the outcome had been different. Emotions have been at a fever pitch for too long for an immediate settling back into normality.

But you know this already.

Today I want to return to the only post I published on the election to say thanks to you who posted comments. I had hoped that at least on this blog, if nowhere else, we could have a small exercise in civil discourse, a reprieve from the name calling and mud slinging and ad hominem (forget the issue–attack the person) arguments that have been tearing the nation apart. I wasn’t disappointed.

Several of you wrote a post or emailed me separately to state your reasons for agreeing with me. Thank you. I like your company!

The rest wrote to disagree. I like your company, also. What pleased me was your courtesy. Nothing needed to be deleted. Each comment was published in its entirety.

One friend whimsically announced his candidacy for the office of president. He solved the dilemma of two unacceptable choices by writing in his own name on the ballot. That frankly didn’t seem much of a solution, and the waste of a perfectly good vote, but it did reduce the tension a bit.

One writer stumbled over my reference to Jesus, thinking I felt a need “to justify some very rational and commonly-held human principles…. Your points would be valid if you didn’t pin your (very articulate) rationale to your faith.” But of course my rationale is based on my faith, as is everyone else’s. My disagreement is with this writer’s belief in “commonly-held human principles.” But where did those principles come from, if in fact the argument can be made that they are commonly held? If they are so common, why are we still at war? Does this mean the values of communism and fascism and hedonism and anarchism and animism and militarism and white supremacy (to name a few) are, at base, ones humanity at large subscribes to? The truth is, whether they cause stumbling or not, my own principles are derived from a lifetime of studying the Bible and trying to apply what I’ve learned there, and to write anything other than that would have been disingenuous. BUT—this writer could not have been more civil and respectful even in disagreement. I hold his comment up as a model.

That’s quite different from the writer who found my treatment of the issue not only “simple but simplistic,” but offered me no help in trying to discern what made it simplistic. This is the closest anyone came to name-calling. Still, it was an honest opinion honestly offered. I was glad he wrote.

Some others I enjoyed:

“…though I respect your choice I am dismayed at the same time.”

“I appreciate your blog. Disagree with your election choice.”  Fair enough.

“You have such gifts of writing, encouragement and voting.  Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.”

“I have always had great admiration and confidence in Roy’s power of observation, analysis, and logic. Until now.”

“I agree to disagree with you on this.”

My favorite, I suppose, is one writer’s assurance that if I were still a pastor today I would act better (in maintaining my neutrality) than I said I would in my post. He knows me well, this good friend, and he may very well be right. Still, in the aftermath of the election, I’m not certain that my conscience would be clear today had I not at least tried to express myself on the implications of Christian ethics as applied to the issues and contestants in the campaign. So I felt compelled to try in my post and I wonder, in light of his comments, how I could have been true to my calling as pastor without speaking on behalf of those whom I felt were abused during the campaign. I’m still thinking.

So where do we go from here? Our new challenge is how to put our deeply fractured country back together again while reassuring a worried world that we can provide the fair and steady leadership it looks to America to provide. From where I sit today, I can’t see how it can be done, at least not for a long time. Grave damage has been inflicted on the body politic. What I do know, though, is that it will require compromises on the part of people who are fanatically dedicated to not compromising, even for the sake of national unity.

And no matter what happens in Washington, we little people can play our part. We can be as civil as those who replied to my post. We can find the good in another, even the one—especially the one—who disagrees with us. We can seek—nationally and personally—“liberty and justice for all,” as we promise to do every time we repeat the Pledge of Allegiance. This is not just a matter for the law courts to decide and the government to provide. It’s also how we talk about and act toward our neighbors, our friends, and all—all—the “others” in our lives. Our new leader has promised to make America great again. He’s a powerful man, Mr. Trump, but this is something he can’t do by himself. Or even with his supporters. In a democracy, the potential for real greatness resides with the people, with you and me, doing our best to be our best. And we are only at our best when we reach beyond our selfish interests to serve in a way  that benefits our neighbors—wherever they live and whoever they are.

Even if they disagree with us.

12 thoughts on “Votes Cast, Conscience Clear–in the Aftermath of the Election”

  1. I may be your most favorite followers (arguably) and I truly respect and applaud your response to this election. I think your character and influence shines every time you put pen to pad. I strive to have a comprehensive and applicable understanding of the gospel as you clearly do. Your years and experiences are much greater than mine but I have a great real life example to look to. In the days after the election I have seen nothing but hate and intolerance in the news and it’s heart warming to see someone “not get their way” and respond with maturity and eloquence the way you have. Thanks for being “like Jesus” to me all these years. I’m proud to call you grandpa!

  2. D.o.D,
    Positively enjoy reading all your blog posts with Mom & you. Your adventures are providing ‘down-the-road’ hope and excitement for Kimberly and I when we hit the mid-60’s. Of course, the 15 year countdown clock began 4 years ago when I received my first AARP mail. After 92 further correspondence offerings from AARP, they finally must have decided I choose not to pursue their services, because the notices stopped. My bucket list first trip; I would like to (with an interpreter) travel deep & thoroughly into China.

  3. Love you, Roy, and love your blog. I did read your election perspective along with about 100 other sage and wise offerings and found myself consistently feeling like my choices were between a venemous snake and a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I’ve attached a link to my MSH blog last week…my Wednesday morning was redeemed by the birth of our 6th grandchild and I talked about finding a little perspective… http://mysafeharbor.org/a-little-perspective/

    I don’t believe this is the worst things have ever been. I remember all the assassinations, riots and Vietnam as a teenager, I watched the ROTC building burn on my college campus, I saw my brother get spit on when he came home from Vietnam, I watched the Watergate mess and a president resign and his replacement brutalized for pardoning him, I remember having to explain to my sons the predatory abuses of a president with women and especially an intern….never mind the long list through history of “the sky is falling” moments because one side won or lost. Every generation has it’s dark days – these may be the dark days for this one. The question is what will we do with it as a country. I’m choosing to believe we can still make lemonade from these recent potent lemons and am once again grateful that our founders built in the separation of powers and the electoral college to keep us from “the tyranny of the majority.” Checks and balances… I did find it poignant to watch Trump when he walked onto the stage for his “victory” speech. He seemed oddly humble. I’m praying that the mantle of presidential responsibility will change him – and for the better.

    Keep having FUN – my greatest challenge as I read about your adventures is not to be incredibly jealous!

    Love,
    Becky

  4. I am starting to love your reader’s comments as much as your blog. All was well said above. My father-in-law was in broadcasting his whole career. He would be so upset about how news is “reported” these days. He would not call it reporting. Blogging may be the best tool for obtaining a sound of reason in the midst of the world clammer that the media creates with no conscience at all about the fear they create. We are so blessed to know Jesus, to have community with each other and to know freedom from fear because He is going to win.

  5. as always, irregardless of political views, love reading your blog. have always valued your judgement and intellect.

    wanted to share that ken apple passed wed. age 92…many health issues at the end. steve’s email is boilersteve@gmail.com.

  6. I suppose the situation in Portland is a good indicator of why the vote went to Trump. What we are seeing is not anarchy. We are seeing organized riots by professionals and they don’t work for free. Meanwhile the president sits in the White House giving his tacit approval by his silence and absence of any action. Is it any wonder that there is angst in the country? We really need a PRESIDENT. Trump is not the best we have but he is all we have. Cheers. Phil

  7. Roy, I’ll assume that I’m your “whimsical friend.” Surely you don’t have more than one! In voting for myself I had the luxury of living in California. In this state, a vote on national figures is useless unless you vote with the huge majority which votes for Democratic candidates. In fact, with recent changes in California law, both candidates for U.S. Senator from California were Democrats. As a quixotic protest against that change, I was going to write in my own name for that office too–just in case I wasn’t elected president–but there was not even a place for a write-in vote for that office. [I guess it could be argued that a large percentage of Democratic votes in California are unnecessary (if not useless) since so many other voters will carry the day for you.]

    On the other hand, I like the “new” Trump we began hearing from in his victory speech [and later, in his comments about his visit with Obama.] He seemed more humble, perhaps even emotionally touched by the enormity of what he had accomplished and the gravity of the task he now faces. Let us pray that the office will make the man and that he will surround himself with advisers to whom he will give the freedom to speak frankly and also be heard.

    I enjoy your travelogues. Keep up your good work. –chuck

  8. Thanks for your insight Roy. It is helpful to remember that we the people did not elect a king or a dictator, and that the things that need to be done in our country must be agreed upon by the representatives and senators whom we elected.

  9. Thank you Roy, for always, always teaching Christ– in historical, biblical, political, and personal contexts over the forty years you’ve been my pastor. I’ve tried to pass on what I’ve learned from you to those near me. Sometimes it sticks. You would have liked Paige’s tearful comment Wednesday morning–“We just have to be less of a nation and more of a neighbor!” Wish you could have tasted some merloke with us in the back yard and joined in with the other honest but mostly civil venting of our motley crew. We ❤️ you, our bridgebuilder and confessor.

  10. Obviously, we each want our candidate to win. We want everything to go the way we want it to go. But there is an opportunity in defeat that doesn’t exist in victory, and you just demonstrated it in spades with this post. It reflects who you are, and also why I love you so much.

    A gracious victory would have been nothing remarkable. This post, on the other hand, a celebration of disagreement in the face of the loss of the candidate you publically supported (via this blog), is a breath of fresh air for me as I was nearly drowning in pre and post election vitriol.

    Thank you. I can breathe.

  11. Totally agree! Thank goodness for some sanity, thank you so much for not disappointing me – as so many have – much love to you both ….. and er can you please explain to me why you did not run for President – you so would have won!!!! Xxxx

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