The Peripatetic Preacher Post-Election Pondering

The Peripatetic Preacher Post-Election Pondering November 17, 2020

The presidential election has now ended, or better said, it has ended for a great number of the US American people, though the current president has yet to admit his defeat, however clear that defeat obviously is. And his defeat was quite decisive. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris received 306 electoral votes, the exact number that Donald Trump garnered in 2016, a victory he called “a landslide,” but Biden/Harris also gained in excess of five million more votes than President Trump, upwards of 77,000,000, significantly more than any presidential candidate has ever received. Not to be overlooked is the fact that Trump received more than 72,000,000 votes, also the most ever cast for any candidate for president, save for the man who has beaten him in the 2020 contest. 72,000,000 votes is a vast number, but was not enough to win the victory this year.

As readers of my essays will know, I am quite pleased at the outcome of the election, though not completely satisfied by it. I am extremely glad that Biden/Harris will move into Washington on Jan.20, 2021, bringing with them a group of grown-up, seasoned aides and cabinet members who will start to tackle the enormous difficulties that our nation faces. I am thrilled that the primarily sycophantic minions who surrounded Donald Trump will no longer retain power. Persons like Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, whose vast wealth, private school proclivities, and lack of any direct knowledge of education, did next to nothing to advance public education in the country, or like Steven Miller, a dour, dark man, whose immigration policies put children in cages and separated many of them from their families, all designed to keep aspiring international people out of the nation. His overt cruelties will hardly be missed. Other figures like Rudy Guiliani, once a respected mayor of New York City, now become a caricature of himself, leading the absurd election fraud search for Trump, most hilariously from the parking lot of a Philadelphia landscaping business, bounded by an adult bookstore on one side and a crematoria on the other, gesticulating and shouting incoherently about malfeasance and dead people’s votes without a shred of evidence, can readily be consigned to a retirement of mayoral memories and Trumpian grandeur. The list of poorly prepared, under qualified, and not ready for prime time players who will depart into that good night is long, and as Gilbert and Sullivan say it in “The Mikado,” “they’ll none of them be missed.”

And of course there is the man himself, the narcissist in chief, the equal opportunity hater and divider, the man who allowed and enabled the COVID-19 pandemic to grow and expand and engulf US America, announcing over and again that it would one day just magically disappear, that wearing a mask is a personal choice (one he chose not to make), that science is not to be believed, that “Democrat” states are cesspools of socialism and radicalism, badly run places, unlike the freedom loving Republican places, incidentally now the very seed beds of viral explosions, where increasing numbers of people are being infected and where too many are dying, some still believing this foolish and vain man that they do not have the virus, which is a hoax; after all, the president of US America said so. I am supremely happy that Donald Trump will wend his merry way back to the gold-plated bathrooms of his Florida mansion where he may play golf, eat Big Macs, drink diet Coke, and I will have to hear nothing of any of it. Oh, he may run for president once again in 2024, if he lives that long, but given his diet and lack of exercise, the odds are not good that he will.

So, there is a summary of why I am glad at the outcome of the election. As you can readily see, my Christian charity, such as it is, has been strained to the breaking point by the White House circus that the past four years has presented to us; the clowns really were running the show, and the repair work that Biden/Harris have in store is monumental. I want them to begin that repair, but I have scant hope that all cracks will be patched in the next four years. Our international reputation is in a gold-plated toilet thanks to the personal idiocy of Mr.Trump, and his bromances with Kim Jung Un and Vladimir Putin and Erdogan of Turkey and Ibn-Saud of Saudi Arabia and Netanyahu of Israel, and other oligarchs and “strong men” of the world. While he has praised them publically, he has avoided our friends, the Macrons and Trudeaus and Merkels of the world. There is huge work to be done there. And the encroaching climate disaster has not been faced; if anything it has become worse, since Trump not only does not believe in climate science, he cannot tell the difference between climate and weather. He has prattled on about clean water and air, very nice things indeed, but has no knowledge or recognition of CO2 concentrations that cause global warming and the need to find urgent ways to curb their atmospheric expansion. And, of course, there is COVID and its effects on the economy. Biden has already well said that if we cannot control COVID, we cannot repair the economy and cannot begin the task of binding up the open wounds that the Donald and his swamp creatures have left. If you believe in prayer, I hope you will send up a fleet of them to God for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris; they will need all they can get.

I said I was not universally satisfied by the outcome of the election, and that is all too true. Several very harsh Republicans flipped seats in the House of Representatives, decreasing the Democratic majority there, and the Senate will probably be once again in Republican hands, unless two Georgian miracles occur come January. Hence, Biden/Harris will face Mitch McConnell, obstructionist in chief, and may find any real change a very hard slog. But perhaps my greatest disappointment was the 72,000,000 votes that my fellow citizens cast for Donald Trump. I do not believe that every Trump vote was cast by a racist, bigoted, narrow-minded, pseudo-Christian, vicious, angry person. This is when I might say: “Some of my best friends are Republicans.” Not only would that be disingenuous, it would also be not true. Nevertheless, with all those votes against Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and for a man whom I still believe has made a mockery of the presidency of my country in ways too numerous to count, his enormous vote total indicates one clear fact: our country is badly divided, and the divisions appear to be so severe as to suggest that many of us live on different planets than many of the rest of us. How on earth—and that is the only planet we all have—can such chasms be bridged?

I have no ready solutions, but I can say this: my Christian faith tells me that in the power and love of God in Jesus all things are possible, even a helpful and sane conversation with those with whom we simply do not agree. It is to those sorts of conversations that we now must turn if we are to reclaim common ground. I am far too much in the pleasant echo chamber of Los Angeles, in a part of the city where a Trump voter is a fairly loner person. The church I attend probably has its Trump supporters, but their voices are silent in the hurricane of liberal Democrats. I will need to go out of my way to discover and cultivate the sorts of folks I am speaking of. That is my job now, and I imagine yours as well. I must not expect or even desire conversion to my way of thinking in such conversations, any more than I expect my Jewish friends to become Christians when we talk of things religious. We need healing in this land, and I want to be a part of that healing. Even my earlier harsh characterizations in this essay may be a large barrier to any true dialogue, but I need to try. Also because I am a Christian, I know that pessimism is ruled out; there can be no pessimistic Christians. We are by definition optimists about our future, because we believe in a God who holds the future and bids us follow that God into that promised future of justice for all God’s people. Even Donald Trump. Even you. Even me.

(Images from Wikimedia Commons)

Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013.
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