On The Election, Politics, and Moving Forward
Last night was perhaps the most disruptive upset in political history. The two-party divide in all its gruesomeness has been blatantly showcased in the past year. Our country has never been more divided, and last night was a shocking revelation of how true that is. One half of our country is steeping in deep mourning, hopelessness, cynicism, and despair. The other half is steeping in victory, hopefulness, superiority, relief, and optimism.
This leads me to a couple thoughts on the Election, The Two-Party System, American Unity, and Politics in General.
We need unity, not division.
Whether you won or lost last night, this is more pertinent now than ever. Our country is divided, and it cannot stand. Both candidates urged for American Unity. If politics is a discussion on how to direct and shape our shared life together, then we all ought to inherently value the weight of other’s opinions and beliefs, even when (perhaps especially when) they are contrary to our own.
Prosperity and progress are not found in staunch political ideals manifesting themselves in legislation. Prosperity and progress are found when the entirety of a people group, realizing their utter dependence on one another, can unify in spite of diversity for their sake of their shared life together, and for the sake of a future worth living for. This unity must not be won by asserting pure ideological force over those who disagree with you. That is oppression.
This unity I speak of is hard. It forces us to work with, care for, hear, understand, and take into account the very real issues, beliefs, identities, and situations of everyone involved in our shared experience. If we are to be unified, we must be willing to offer this invitation to everyone even if they are not willing to reciprocate.
The way forward is not in a two-party system based on opposing ideologies competing for power. This will leave us at an unhealthy stalemate, unable to truly connect and form a strong, solidified nation to stand on. The way forward is in a communal desire for the common good of one another. The way forward involves Republicans and Democrats, Liberal and Conservative, joining arm in arm to press into the difficult, messy, gritty issues of our times, and come to a common compromise that will leave both parties feeling heard, understood, valued, and satisfied in the decisions we make as a country.
The problem with our current system is in its deplorable communication. Currently, our country is engaged in endless shouting matches. This side yells about this issue, and is unable to hear that side yelling about that issue. Both, then, raise the volume, increase the mud-slinging, decrease the willingness to engage the other, and thus further the divide between us all as Americans.
In a family, this is a toxic dynamic that will lead to the disintegration of the entire unit.
We must, out of respect for ourselves, one another, and the shared appreciation of all human life, and desire for common flourishing, come together with a willingness to listen, understand, forgive, and serve. We must be willing to look out for the needs of our whole American family, in spite of race, religion, ideology, and history, to form an uncommon community in which the infinitely diverse can be intimately united.
This principle must be what guides us. It would be necessary regardless of the outcome of this election. Until we as Americans are able to approach the issues of our common life together on neutral ground, with the foresight of a brighter, more prosperous future for all people in mind, with a willingness to hear all sides of these complex issues, and then act in a way in which all people will benefit we will remain where we are. This may mean that those in power may have to sacrifice their ideal situation for the sake of compromise. This may mean those out of power may have to be willing to work with their opposites, and be more than content with that compromise.
Perhaps, for the upset liberal the next step begins with a willingness to support Trump, in spite of an understandable attitude of hatred towards him. Perhaps this begins with a willingness to stand behind a leader simply because he is a leader, and to aid him, to wish the best for him, to guide him, and to defend him. Perhaps this comes with a willingness to accept what the results are, and look to tomorrow with a refreshed optimism of a different sort, one that believes in the common desire of all humans (even those you most disagree with) to work for the good others. Perhaps this begins with a movement to stand behind, work with, and fully understand those who are different than you, even if you feel they do not afford you the same graces. Perhaps it means putting faith in someone you don’t want to, hoping to be surprised.
Perhaps, for the uplifted Republican, this begins with an empathetic understanding of your liberal brother and sister. Perhaps this begins with a willingness to understand the disappointment of the other side, and desire to fully appreciate and understand the complexities of their wishes for the future of the country. Perhaps it begins with a desire for compromise instead of domination. Perhaps it means sacrificing the potential for absolute authority for the sake of a middle way which all people will benefit from, and all people will feel respected, valued, heard, and represented.
We are only as strong as our weakest link. We are only as prosperous as we are united. We are only the “United States of America” when we begin to work towards relational unity in spite of stark ideological difference, and when we set aside ideology for the sake of the other, so that all women and all men can benefit from the shared life we work to create for ourselves.
What would it look like to the nations of the world if instead of anger, spite, animosity, and division we were truly united? What would it look like if we gathered in common respect, love, admiration, and understanding? What if we worked together for the sake of the other, and thus found ourselves included in the benefits of our mutually agreed upon solutions? That, my friends, would be an unquestionably great country. If we decide to identify out of what we have in common, mainly being American (and Human), then we will find we have more in common than not, and we have similar desires, similar needs, similar fears, and similar hopes for our country.
It’s a hard place to arrive at, and it takes a lot of humility and sacrifice to attain. However, I have the utmost of faith in our nation. We can do it. We can be known by what we’re for rather than what we’re against, what we love rather than what we hate, and as who we are as a people group at large. We can be United States, glued together by our common ideals for liberty and justice for all peoples.
However, this begins with you. On an individual level, we must commit to unity. We must commit to grace, love, and vulnerability. We must commit to one another, and steer clear of isolating ourselves or others from the table. We must all work equally to mend the tears that divide us. We must all be willing to forgive, and be willing to ask for forgiveness. We must be aware of our opposites, and be willing to listen to them. And we must not expect only the leaders to do it (though we ought to expect that), but we must also expect it of ourselves, first and foremost. Then, maybe then, we can assuredly say that brighter days lie ahead.