I spend a lot of time on this blog advocating for hope, for balance, for refusing to judge those who believe differently than I do simply because they believe differently, and for extending the benefit of a doubt even to those whose beliefs and commitments are not only different than mine, but completely offensive to everything I consider to be important. But today, one week before the most important Election Day of my life (and the twelfth presidential election I have participated in), let me pull back the curtain a bit and let you know what I, in my solitary moments, really think.
- I’m scared. During a conversation the other day with a trusted friend and colleague, a guy who, because of Covid-19, I have not spoken with in months, my friend said that “If Trump wins, I seriously worry about the future of our democracy.” My friend is a well-regarded and well-published historian, a serious man of faith, a wise and insightful person who was one of my mentors in my early years at the college. I have team-taught with him more than a dozen times in various courses over the past twenty-five years. He is one of the best human beings I have ever met, and is not given to hyperbole or overstatement. And he is right. God help us if Donald Trump is reelected.
- I do not recognize the millions of people who claim to be Christian as I am, yet are sycophantically attached to the most non-Christian President who has served in my lifetime. In a course I frequently team-teach called “Apocalypse,” a teaching colleague and I spend several classes studying cults with my students. There is something disturbingly cultish about the way in which presumably good people who claim to share my faith commitments have sold themselves, body and soul, to Donald Trump. I’ve written about this so many times over the past four years and more that I can’t bring myself to crank it out yet again. If you are a Christian Trump supporter, I ask you: What in God’s name are you doing? What, in Jesus’ name, are you thinking? How many idols have raised themselves higher in your imagination than the message of the Gospels? How did this happen?
- I lost interest a long time ago in “listening to both sides.” As a character in The Newsroom once said in a daily meeting to a reporter who wanted to know whether they were going to cover “both sides” of a particular issue, “some issues only have one side.” Covid-19. Climate change. Black Lives Matter and racial justice. Economic justice. Making voting easier, not harder. Equal rights across the board for LGBTQ persons. And so many more. I wish the media would stop treating bullshit and lies as equal in value to obvious truth under the false umbrella of “balanced reporting.”
- I, as well as millions of other fellow Americans, am exhausted. I so badly want to be able to spend two or three weeks, even two or three days, away from the news without worrying that the latest road to hell has been paved with lies, sycophancy, misplaced values, and self-interested persons in power, while I was away. It isn’t healthy for any human being to be angry, frustrated, worried, afraid, apathetic, snarky, and distracted all at the same time, 24/7, for months and years on end. I don’t recognize the person I’ve become when I’m at my worst. When my colleagues and friends ask each other on the latest Zoom meeting “How are you doing?”, the best response anyone has been able to crank out over the past several months is something along the lines of “As well as can be expected.” And those are the optimists in the group. I don’t have to tell you what the pessimists are saying.
I could go on, but I suspect that many of you recognize what I’m describing.
Covid-19 is not going to magically go away any time soon, despite the consistent unfounded promises of one of the candidates for President. It will not go away magically because of who is elected President. But we at least have the opportunity to vote in the direction of someone who might actually develop a plan for dealing with it. I am 64 years old, lived through the sixties and the Viet Nam war, and our current situation in this country is—by far—the most concerning and disturbing of my lifetime.
I believe we can recover from this. I believe we can do better. But if things turn out as I hope they do not in this election, I don’t know if I will be able to honestly say such things any more. I am not one of those people who say “vote for whomever you want—just be sure to vote.” If you are not crystal clear by now about who you must vote for in order to preserve even a glimmer of hope for the future, let me know. I’ll tell you how to vote. The stakes could not be higher. Vote as if your life depends on it. Because it very well may.