I woke up Wednesday morning in my own bed, but it might as well have been in a different country. To see that Donald Trump had been elected President made me question reality and is one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life, and my mom died when I was ten, so that is not a trifling scale.
I had to come to terms with the fact that regardless of other reasons they may tell themselves that they voted for Donald Trump, half of the electorate in this country had given into fear and hate. Growing up I learned from an early age, mainly from people of the republican persuasion, that people, especially in this country, all have the God given gift of choice. Though some may feel their choices are limited by circumstances or other barriers, they still choose how they will react in the face of challenges and circumstances. Many in our country decided to react like a caged animal and gave in to man’s most base, natural instinct… fear.
Many people chose to give into fear, give into hate, and value the empty promises of an empty man. Many of these who support Donald Trump, and a republican agenda in general, will chalk all the displays of sorrow and disgust at the result of this election as others just being poor losers. But I assure you, that is not the truth for many of people expressing these sentiments. If Mitt Romney had won the election in 2012, I would have been disappointed but also glad that our country would still be led by a good person. Our country's decision this week to elect a man bereft of any good deed, thought, or motive marks a turning point for our country.
Growing up LDS (i still am LDS) I was often exposed to the idea of the United States of America as a divinely established land, a divine heritage for those who value freedom, religion and expression of that religion. American exceptionalism was a matter of doctrine for many around me. What many of those people forget is a place is only as exceptional as the people who inhabit it and live according to their values and morals. On Tuesday so many people traded their values and morals for political influence, which makes them corrupt.
I work in communications and I understand that the truth can be obscured by how we say and frame a message. A lot of people I know are going to spend time justifying why they voted for Donald. Framing their choice in terms of the old republicans falls back of abortion (I’m neither completely pro-choice or pro-life), the second ammendment (guns), and closely tied to these two are the supreme court. There also the new republican hates, like the ACA. The fact that people gave into knee jerk reactions to vote for Donald because of pet issues is just one more confirmation of giving into fear. When you vote for someone you’re getting the whole enchilada. I understood that when I voted for Secretary Clinton.
For many people in the religious community I grew up in, faith and politics become so intermingled they can’t see where one ends and the other begins. But that does not excuse them from the choice they made. Some people have accused people of being too caught up in this election. I think the results show that being caught up in something, doesn’t actually mean someone will think critically about the ramifications of a choice, nor the consequences of that choice on others.
People will say I am writing all this because I am bitter. Well I am feeling a lot of emotions right now but bitter does not capture it. If I had to settle on just one it’s betrayed. I feel betrayed by so many people I know and for whom I am losing respect, including family members. It would be easier if I could just say those nameless, faceless people did this, but that’s not the case. That they would vote for a man who treats women with such little respect and sees women only as objects to dominate, increase his status and fulfill his sexual desires is what is most heartbreaking. It definitely sends a message to me about what they think of me and my purpose in life.
My heart also breaks and yearns for the refugees who fled war and unconscionable circumstances, to end up in a country where half the electorate has just decided that opportunity and freedom today only apply to people who look and worship in a certain way.
In James 1:27 it reads- “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” The modern widows and fatherless are women, minorities, the disabled, muslims, people who are LBGTQ, and all the other populations that Donald lambasted during his presidency. So many of my faith have violated this directive and made the choice that puts these groups in direct peril. Even if one can justify this in their mind, it doesn’t change the increased daily challenges, fear and persecution many of these people are now facing.
Will Donald Trump surprise us, will a 70 year old man change his stripes? I hope to God he does for the sake of everyone in this country and especially for the sake of all the groups of people I mentioned above. But we are already seeing so many reports of individuals in these groups being persecuted by people openly identifying as Trump supporters and justifying their actions by the outcome of the election.