Finding Hope in Trump’s America

Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Photo by Gage Skidmore.

I’m pretty sure people know not to bother talking about politics with me. Not because I’m against it but because I have very little to contribute. But this morning, I had seven different conversations about last night’s election. I wasn’t looking to talk about it: it just happened. People wanted or needed to talk about it with anyone who would listen.

Ultimately, these conversations weren’t really about politics. They were conversations about faith and society. About fears but also about hope. Yes, there is hope. And I’ve said more than once today that hope has me excited for what is on the horizon.

Full disclosure: I’m not happy that Donald Trump will be our next president. But I’m not all that surprised he won. Some people expressed shock but considering all the social injustice and violence in recent years, should we really be shocked?

Trump’s victory isn’t about him winning people over with his personality or discourse. His victory is a reflection of where we are as a country. You’re wondering how someone so obviously racist, sexist, prideful, and misogynistic could be elected president of the United States of America? It’s because America is so racist, sexist, prideful, and misogynistic. America is broken. And for whatever reason, people either turned a blind eye to just how broken America is or somehow didn’t realize how broken it is. Until now. Until a man who seemingly stands for anything but love was elected president.

The morning after the election, I logged onto Twitter and saw various tweets expressing grief and anger over the election. Some talked about hope and faith in God. A few stated their support for minorities, immigrants, Muslims, women, and the LGBQT community. There were calls-to-action for others — especially fellow Christians — to do the same. To stand behind the marginalized, to love them, support them, fight for them, work for them.

But I wonder: would people be posting these messages of love had Hillary Clinton won? Would they have woken up the morning after the election and realized that everyone – everyone – needs to do more in support of the marginalized and victimized? Because here’s the thing: if Clinton had won the election, America would still be just as broken. Clinton is not our savior, America’s panacea in a pant suit. Minorities, immigrants, Muslims, women, the LGBQT community: they would need just as much love and support today and the next four years had Trump lost.

I think you can make a very fair argument that because Trump has won, these groups are in more danger now (or will be in a few months when Trump officially takes office) than they would have been had Clinton won. But aren’t these people in enough danger already? Did we really need a Trump victory before we were moved to do more? To love more? People filled with hate exist regardless of who our president is and will be.

I talked about hope. Here is the hope that I see:

Yes, a terrible man will be the President of the United States of America. But I believe that his election has woken up this country. I believe people understand now that hatred is more than shooting up a LGBQT nightclub; killing an unarmed black man; burning a mosque. Hatred is not just outward action: it’s buried deep inside the heart of man and is expressed in many different ways. And I believe with Trump’s victory, we are seeing just how deep hatred runs in this country.

I believe because of Trump’s victory, people who merely saw racism, hatred, and violence as news stories are now seeing it as a very real threat in their lives: either to themselves or the people that they love. And because of Trump’s victory, I expect more people to do something about these things.

I expect revival. Because of Trump’s victory, I expect churches to pray more desperately than ever before. And when God answers their prayers by telling them to act, I expect them to act. And I expect God to be glorified.

I expect suffering but because of Trump’s victory, I also expect more people to be sympathetic to that suffering. I expect people will finally understand that this suffering will not go away without change. And I expect those who have power, regardless of how little power they may have, will realize they must be agents of change.

If the popular vote is anything to go by (and I don’t necessarily think it is), most Americans probably aren’t getting the president they wanted next year. But perhaps we are getting the president we need to inspire legitimate change in this country. And if that is the case, I expect, God willing, that America will be great again someday.

Two last things:

This was a very tough election. Many people that I spoke to voted for Clinton begrudgingly because she seemed like the lesser of the two evils. And I believe, based on what I know and understand about Clinton, that people could have voted for Trump begrudgingly because he seemed like the lesser of the two evils. There were also legitimate, non-evil reasons to vote for either candidate. All that to say: just because someone voted for Trump doesn’t mean they are racist or that they are filled with hate, or support what he stands for. Regardless of who you voted for: if you feel like your choice was a no-brainer, I encourage you to have conversations about Clinton and Trump. Peaceful conversations that seek wisdom and understanding; not conversations that seek to validate your own convictions.

Finally, if you’ve read all this and think I’m a hypocrite: yes, I am a hypocrite. I have done very little for the marginalized and the victimized. I am not proud of how lazy and selfish I am. There are no excuses. But my expectations of this nation moving forward are also expectations of myself.

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