The saddest thing…

…about this election is, of course, the continuing division and vitriol being manifested — at least right now — not by the President-elect, but by “the people” of this land. On the one hand we have seen reports of hate speech and the defacing of churches and other institutions with racial slurs and the proclaiming of “Trump Country.” On the other hand we see protests (some violent, some not) which seem not to be directed at any actual actions taken by the new Administrations, but on what actions might be taken.

To his credit, Donald Trump has asked the racists and the hate-mongers to “stop it.” And, of course, the anti-Trump protesters say that they are merely putting Trump on notice that they will be vigilant should he try and enact some of this more outrageous campaign promises. I suppose this division in our ranks might have been just as evident had Hillary Clinton and the Democrats prevailed, but those on the extreme Right had become accustomed to being on the “wrong” side of the political fence over the last eight years. Now, they seem newly emboldened. Predicable, I guess.

But can we not at least seek to find common ground in these early days? Two recent experiences I have had show how difficult this is. When students from the University of Iowa staged a peaceful protest and blocked traffic for a while even on the busy east-west Interstate 80 across the middle of Iowa, I posted on Facebook a picture with the caption “The Peoples’ Republic of Iowa City Strikes Again!” This, using the affectionate handle often applied in this state to the left-leaning state university.

I was immediately accused of supporting the kind of divisive actions Trump himself might have encouraged and which I would have repudiated. I was accused of being insensitive to those inconvenienced by having to sit in blocked traffic for less than an hour. “What if someone died, trying to be taken to the hospital because they couldn’t move through the traffic jam?’ several said. Fair enough. But then, I had not stated that I supported such behavior. I merely posted that the event happened.

And, in another Facebook thread when I in fact questioned the appropriateness and the wisdom of signs like “Not My President” and of mounting protests, not against specific transgressions, but about the fear of same, I was vilified by a former colleague for being “coy” about the danger of a Trump administration and of not being faithful in my Christian witness because I seemed to be calling for a “wait and see” attitude at least in the initial days and weeks of the new Administration.

This kind of intolerance and failure to listen deeply and carefully to “the other side” does not bode well for these next four years. I am as concerned and vigilant as anyone I know about the dangers of a Donald Trump in the White House. But, given the fact that the GOP — because of Donald Trump — heard a voice out there in rural, and not so rural, America and therefore controls (or will soon control) all three branches of the federal government and a vast majority of the state houses, we had better be as “wise and serpents and innocent as doves” as we, on the progressive side of US politics, begin to move forward.

Let’s take a deep breath, dear friends. And be strategic in our response…

 

6 Responses to “The saddest thing…”

  1. sisterlynnjulian Says:

    When did he ask them to stop? I haven’t seen that yet.

    I’m sorry you met with such responses with your two experiences. And I agree, this does not bode well for the next four years. I’m torn between waiting to see what Trump actually does in his administration (trusting to some extent the checks-and-balances in our government, even though it will be Republican), and being horrified at so much hatred and bigotry that he has loosed with his rhetoric and feeling that we need to DO something NOW. I certainly need to take a deep breath and proceed strategically. Just feeling pretty hopeless and helpless right now.

  2. Christopher Epting Says:

    Said it on 60 Minutes last night. We shall see if he really means it and follows through…

  3. sisterlynnjulian Says:

    p.s. – I’m also very concerned about the tone of the anti-Trump demonstrations, some of which seem poised on the edge of violence. Trump IS our President, whether we like it or not. If the demonstrations send him a message and he responds, that will be good. But for now, they seem to be giving the pro-Trump folks ammunition to say we are worse losers than Trump would have been. I wonder if they are strategically positive or not.

    Of course, when I was in college and seminary, I participated in some of the anti-Viet Nam demonstrations without much thought of strategy.

  4. sisterlynnjulian Says:

    Thanks. I haven’t watched the 60 minutes interview yet. I will.

  5. Bryan England Says:

    And then Herr Trump appoints a white supremacist as his chief advisor.

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