I can’t resist the urge. Politics. Elections. Close races. It draws me in every time. And yet somehow, amidst all the nice graphics and stimulating commentary, I come away with a distinct sense of disappointment in the aftermath.
It’s not the result necessarily, nor the lack of new polls or the lull in political moves from those seeking a given result that upsets me. It’s simply the way everyone treats one another.
People slag off at those who have supported their opposition. They treat those who voted for another candidate as being the benign replicas of everything those candidates have ever said and done. They homogenise others according to who they supported and attach hurtful labels to them (I know, I’ve done it myself before). They choose to put down those who disagree with them, without for a second giving thought to why those people voted the way they did.
Like anyone in my position (white, middle-class, living outside America, employed, tertiary educated), I looked with frank disgust on the words and actions of a man who I couldn’t possibly see becoming President. I refused to endorse him, despite my previous support for some Republican Presidential campaigns.
For many, Trump’s actions were enough to make them come out in open support of his key opponent, Hillary Clinton. For me, the stretch to support Hillary openly would have been one driven out of a spirit of fear rather than a conviction in what she stood for. I chose to sit on the fence.
Many chose differently, and with good reason, understanding that from their worldviews and their sense of justice, that they could openly stand with Hillary in opposition to Trump. I don’t blame them. In fact, in many ways I supported their stance, but lacked a desire to compromise certain principles over an election I cannot vote in.
That word compromise was the name of the game with this election. We all did it to some extent. Some stood with Hillary against Trump on the basis of his blatant misogyny and racism. Many held contrary views to her on issues of big business, trade deals (TPPA anyone?) and abortion, but decided that it was worth overlooking these positions to hold Trump out. Not all Clinton supporters, but I’d bet on a significant chunk.
Here is my gripe. When the results came out last night, people condemned Trump supporters. They condemned the American electorate for being ‘stupid’, ‘moronic’ and ‘racist’. They attacked the supporters rather than the views of the candidate.
This saddens me. Why? Because it reflects our own lack of empathy, our own lack of understanding or care for how the lives of others might be affected by the economic and social systems within which we operate. The very same lack of tolerance and understanding we despise in the actions and words of Donald J. Trump. We simply don’t care about the fact that he won significant support from those most likely to be marginalised by the economic system we benefit from in our upper-middle class situations overseas, particularly compared to Romney. We don’t give a toss about unemployment in the mid-west states. We don’t take the time to understand the situations around legal and illegal immigrants in America.
Yes, many of his supporters may have compromised their beliefs around gender equality or overlooked his slurs towards LGBTI and racial groups. They did so in the same way many people overlooked Hillary’s views on abortion and trade, because they saw opportunities for those in their position. They aren’t all racists or idiots. Some may have lacked the opportunities for the educational opportunities you have enjoyed, but some are simply facing the challenges of unemployment, low wages, struggling businesses. They aren’t bad people trying to bring the world down. Some are simply dispirited with the status quo which they saw Hillary as representing and saw their daily challenges as more important than the other valid concerns over Trump’s attitudes. Can you blame them?
The election wasn’t simple, and there were many factors at play. But as the results are digested I implore you to consider your privilege, to consider what it would mean for you to be in the position of someone earning under $30,000 a year in America. To be facing the TPPA and its impact on domestic businesses. To be unemployed in a country where the welfare system is different to your own. I’m not suggesting I understand these things or even know what they all mean for specific populations. I’m not even suggesting that these things justify voting for someone like Trump. But please be aware that these types of issues to exist for people and they have very real impacts on their daily lives.
I ask that only once you have considered this, you then write your status about the election or write that comment on a blog post. Love your neighbours, whether they be Trump or Clinton supporters. Treat them as people made in God’s image, worthy of love, however much you detest the views of their candidate. All of us compromised on something, usually influenced by the level of privilege we enjoy in society in an unconscious manner. Don’t spend your words hating on those who compromised differently in their votes, instead, expend your efforts on praying for the leader who was democratically elected last night. Pray for the nation he leads and the world we live in, acknowledging that God is sovereign and in control. Keep calling out and standing up against every kind of injustice that is espoused. But please, and I reiterate please, remember we are all humans, broken and sinful, all needing the grace that comes through Jesus Christ and His resurrection and through the continued work of the Holy Spirit.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
And to walk humbly with your God.