For about 50% of us, the election did not turn out as we had hoped. Perhaps, like me, you watched Tuesday night completely stunned as Trump pulled ahead of Hillary and won. For some it was an underdog story ending in victory. For others it was an upset that left them in complete shock. I've stayed away from social media over the past week to process and think and pray. And here are a few suggestions for all the former #nevertrump-ers to move forward as I hope Jesus would do.
1. BE HOPEFUL
In American elections, we often end up characterizing our candidate as a Messiah, the one who will save our country and our futures. We equally characterize the opponent as the Anti-Christ, one who will destroy everything we know and love. Neither is true. We have a Messiah, and his name is Jesus. Our truest hope was never in these candidates because we know there will never be a real savior as our President. Disappointment may be merited, but not hopelessness.
Politically, we must be hopeful because the position of President does not determine the future of our country; we are still a government by the people, and we have a political system of checks and balances. Specifically, we must be hopeful with Donald Trump as our President by choosing to hope in his merits and strengths. During the election we sought out the worst in Trump in order to prevent his winning the election; now, it's time to seek and affirm aspects like his business experience, his respectful acceptance speech, his refusal to take the presidential salary, or his clear stance in defense of minorities on CBS today. We do not need to like him, but we will make progress and live better if we can start bridging the divides. And on a larger scale, we must be hopeful because hope is what allows us to move forward and make a difference. Our hope is in Jesus and no one else.
2. BE RESPECTFUL
One of our main critiques of Donald Trump during his campaign was that he was disrespectful of others. Let's not hold him to a double standard which now allows us to bad-mouth him as much as we please. One of us has a microphone and the other has a Facebook, but both can and should be respectful, if only because we are each human. Bitterness and hatred rarely affect the object of the hatred, but rather twist and shrivel the mind and heart of the hater. It's easy to hate; it's hard to respect. Again, we do not need to support the man or his positions to simply treat him as we would wish to be treated. Let's rise above expectations.
To my own home of Portland, please stop the protests. Continue to actively reach out and speak your mind, but in a way that accomplishes a reasonable goal. We have a President-elect, and no amount of sign waving or vandalism will change that. It's time for us to show the respect that we would want others to show. As is so often quoted, we must be the change we wish to see.
[One suggestion that my mom taught me as a child: refer to our President with his title. I campaigned against President Obama in 2008 and 2012. But despite many major disagreements with his presidency, I was always required to refer to him as "President Obama" to reinforce my respect for him simply because of his identity as President. On January 20th, 2017, I will begin to say President Trump, whether I like it or not. I'd encourage you to join me in being intentionally respectful of any person who takes the grueling, dangerous, ill-rewarded position of the President of the United States.]
3. BE ACTIVE
Unhappy with the results of the election? Stay involved in your local government. As previously mentioned, the office of President is only one part of a large democratic republic intentionally designed to be influenced and controlled by the people. Despite the corruption and the politics, there is still much that can be done. Get to know your state representative and senator. Lobby for the causes you believe in. Write letters to the editor. Use social media thoughtfully. The millennial generation is know for apathy and disengagement, but we have the potential to radically shape the future.
And of course, pray. Believe that prayer makes a difference because God says it does. And take God up on his promise. In 1 Timothy, Paul specifically says, "I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."
4. BE FOCUSED
I feel that this election has been an extreme distraction from things that are far more important. While we should remain active as explained above, it's time for us to refocus our energy on the things that actually matter to us. For some, that may still be politics. But for most of us, our focus is meant to lie elsewhere. Perhaps your focus is a ministry, your family, your education, a relationship, or a passion. Specifically, I hope that the energy, opinions, and passion we've put into the election will be redirected into causes like ending sex trafficking, helping kids in foster care, supporting single moms, visiting prison inmates, preaching the gospel, and loving our neighbor well.
It's easy to have an opinion on this election, and it's easy to get sucked into making this a really big deal. Probably half of my conversations lately have come back to this topic. An overwhelming amount of social media is simply ranting about the same subject over and over. Even my blog is a good example; two weeks in a row now, I've posted about this election and this candidate. Now that it's over, I hope I can focus back on things I care about even more. I hope my conversations will start revolving around more meaningful movements. I hope my focus will remain on Jesus rather than on a new President-elect.
It's okay to be unhappy with the outcome of this election. But there is nothing to be gained in whining. It will take incredible patience and respect, but we can be a part of reuniting the huge divide that this election has caused in America. And most of all, we can point our nation back to the One who holds our hope.