“It’s almost over.” It seems like every four years, around this time, we’re all saying the same thing. We’re all happy that the craziness of the presidential election is finally coming to a close. However, this year I feel like the entire process has devolved into a new low. I make no secret that I’m on the liberal side of the spectrum, but even I have respect for most conservative candidates, despite my disagreement with them. I am usually able to have a rational discourse with people about political issues.
This year, the conservative side of the equation brought out the most irrational and inflammatory rhetoric it could find. In addition, the political season once again started earlier than ever. This means that rational political discourse has been absent from the public square for a solid year. Trump is the type of candidate that knows how to work the media, and almost every step of the way he has done exactly what he has made him famous for decades, create a spectacle.
Creating a spectacle is great for entertainment and growing a brand/business, but it’s horrible in the political spectrum. Spectacles bring out raw passion and emotion in people, and although that can be good in the entertainment sphere, it damages the political world. What has disturbed me the most during this election cycle is seeing so many people give in to the spectacle that is Trump, and willingly turn off their critical thinking skills.
Almost all of the political plans that Trump has laid out are just eye candy for a populace that is fed on constant streams of attention grabbing social media and reckless infotainment that passes for news. Trump, as a master showman, has realized that he can tap into people’s desire for radical change to fuel an emotion and passion based campaign which, just like frenetic social media, has little basis in reality.
I’m certainly not one to stand in the way of progress, and I agree that many things in government need to change. However, there is only one institution that changes slower than government, and that is the Church. Change WILL come to our country, and it always has. It simply takes time and patience, along with the willpower to slowly turn a very, very large vessel. It often also takes baby-steps, such as the Affordable Care Act, which although flawed, is paving the way for better change in the future. That’s the nature of government and politics, and as much as we love to imagine a world where public policy and programs change on a dime, it’s simply not the reality that we live in.
Yet here we are, in an election cycle where reality has taken a back seat to rationalism. Perhaps my biggest complaint is how this emotion fueled campaign has fueled the rise of hate. Many, sane, rational people that I know are voting for Trump, not because they believe in him, but because they “hate that crooked Hillary”. Trump has masterfully turned his lack of political prowess into a referendum on how many people he can get to hate Hillary.
As someone who still clings to the notion of a Christian faith, this is perhaps the saddest part of all. People of faith have gathered around Trump to decry the evil that they perceive is Hillary, and they do it with such a blind eye towards faith in Christ that is almost brings me to tears. Perhaps the biggest tragedy is that these people believe that what they are doing is because of their faith, and that supporting Trump is the ‘Christian’ thing to do.
I have always been a firm believer in the philosophy espoused by Greg Boyd, a pastor here in Minnesota, that Christians are meant to be a power under society, not a power over it. There is no such thing as a Christian Nation, and there never should be. The entire concept is anathema to the message and teaching of Christ. Christians are to show the love of Christ through their actions in the world, not through the seizing of power in a political sphere. This most certainly does not mean that political figures shouldn’t act our their faith, but they should never use their position of power to impose their faith on others. That is simply not how God has called people to spread the love of Christ.
A nation will reflect the nature of the people who inhabit it, and that is why for many decades America has had the appearance of a Christian nation. The overwhelming majority of the populace lived and practiced a Christian life, and our government reflected that reality. However, our country is changing and we are becoming a much more pluralistic society and our government will change to reflect the make up of the people. The fears of many conservative Christians are reflected in the insane proposals of Trump, such as building a wall with Mexico and deporting Muslims.
Our nation is changing, and no amount of crazy ideas will change the fact that we are no longer the “Christian nation” that we once were. But that’s OK. Christ did not suffer and die to create America. He sacrificed himself so that those who follow Him can have victory over sin and death in their lives. That is a victory that has real meaning and power in a person’s life, since it them empowers them to show that same sacrificial love to those around him. That, in-turn, creates a type of Christian society that exists between all people, no matter their faith or the political policies over them. It is truly a power that changes the world from under it, through the power of the cross and not the sword.
This election cycle can’t end soon enough, but I know that the struggle to accept change will take longer than a presidential election. It takes a changing of hearts and minds to reflect a life of Christ, serving and helping others in whatever ways we are gifted to do so. Our country will never be a “Christian nation” again, and that’s OK, and that’s the way it should be. I would rather worship a God who is present in the relationships we have with others, and not imposed upon the unwilling. Christ is not our slaver, He has broken our chains to make us free to show his love to every single soul.