Untangling The Nov. 8 Fallout

What is the correct response to evil? Utter contempt? Conciliation? Compromise? What do you do when almost half of you fellow countrymen support evil? Applaud evil? Vote for evil? There must be a position that can be taken which condemns without hatred. Which rises above the evil itself.┬áIt seems to me that the proper response must, then, have to do with balance of the self. Outrage is not only permitted, but required. Outrage is good, it is an active energy that moves us to action against evil. Outrage is both focused and general. It chastises without scapegoating. We must be careful. Stoke the flames of your outrage, do not let your fire die. Do not accept the facile lie that a nation united behind wickedness is superior to one divided, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division” (Luke 12:51). By all means, give Pontius Pilate a chance, but after he crucifies Christ do not expect to be counted blameless. Outrage has its limits, though. Many who voted for Trump were simply fooled. A toxic combination of culture, media, lies, mistrust, ignorance and fear reached a boiling point. Charity demands we assume the best about their motives. This, then, is a further problem. Who is worthy of blame? The Republican sycophants who supported a monster? Certainly. The media who legitimized him? Undoubtedly. Alternative Right Wing paranoia mills that created a culture of ignorance? Again, yes. But what of the voters? Some undoubtedly voted for Trump for mercenary reasons. Perhaps even out of fear of Clinton. Others merely because he is a Republican. Yet the significant number of racists and fools cannot be ignored. Those who fear the Other, who can’t sleep for fear of a changing racial landscapes, who long for someone to blame for their economic insecurity. Or else whose blind anger attaches itself to anyone or anything that rebels against authority, against the rulers, against the system that doesn’t revolve around them. Claiming to restore faith to the nation they shake their fist at heaven. These, these can be blamed. These are the ones who bear the brunt of the moral responsibility among the Trump voting class.

It has not been my intention to write a castigation against Trump voters. I am privileged to count many of them as my friends. Let us, then, set aside the question of who bears what responsibility and why. It is not what I want to speak concerning. The question that keeps dangling in front of my brain is quite different. Namely, when the nausea has finally died down, what will be the correct position to take for the next four years? As with most difficult questions the answer seems to be difficult as well. We must love everyone. We must pray for Donald Trump. Do not forget that bitterness and hatred is the poison that created Donald Trump. We must never let our outrage die. We must curtail anger while granting no quarter to evil. Let us be a divided nation, and let that never not be the case when there are fascists in the White House. Let us also pray for our neighbors, knowing that the cage of hatred and paranoia is dark indeed. Those consumed by evil victimize themselves as well. We must fight their evil for their own sake as well as our neighbor’s and our own. That is what should happen, I do not say that it will happen. What seems more likely to me is that the protesters will grow tired and go home, the heat of their anger will sour into a bitter and nurtured loathing. Neglecting charity, disgust will addle the brain. The division will continue, but instead of a principled line in the sand we will be left with a nation of deranged imbeciles wrestling in the dark.

I am not a cynic. I am an optimist. I do not believe this must be our fate. However, I also believe that we need a new kind of politics to avoid it. A party with a commitment to charity and a consistent ethic of valuing human life. One which chastises error without bitterness, which obstructs evil without malice. A voting block committed both to unbending principle while also praying for those wretches who seek only their own advancement and aggrandizement. A statecraft of Christ. Perhaps I ask too much of this world. Perhaps such cannot be before the parousia. Then again, I am an optimist.

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