Needed, overblown, or both?

Needed, overblown, or both?

I had originally started putting a show together about some of the other races decided on Election Night 2016. I was going to note how Republicans didn’t just hold onto majorities in Congress, but increased their holdings of governorships and state legislatures, and maybe talk about some of the ballot measures that were voted on.

But as the week continued, I was less and less concerned about that, and more concerned about the reactions to the election that I kept hearing on other podcasts and social media. So I decided to chuck my original idea, and just touch on those.  And #SafetyPin.

Mentioned links:

2016 Presidential Election Results

“Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”: FDR’s First Inaugural Address

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Show transcript

I had originally started writing a script about some of the other races decided on Election Night 2016. I was going to note how Republicans didn’t just hold onto majorities in Congress, but increased their holdings of governorships and state legislatures, and maybe talk about some of the ballot measures that were voted on. If you want to see all that, there’s a link in the show notes with all those results.

But as the week continued, I was less and less concerned about that, and more concerned about the reactions to the election that I kept hearing on other podcasts and social media. So I decided to chuck my original idea, and just touch on those.

I want to start with the idea that Trump’s election has caused racists, misogynist, xenophobes, and all manner of “deplorables” to come out of the closet. I say “come out of the closet” because he did not create them; they have been there all along. It was pointed out to me that the KKK was celebrating Trump’s victory, as though the Klan is some potent political powerhouse. Politically, they are irrelevant. Yes, they still exist, and yes, they have ways of causing fear, but are they really as potent as they were a couple generations ago? It may be easy for me to say since they wouldn’t be harassing me, but I think the answer to that is a clear No. Let them play pretend that they are on the rise, but my prediction is that they will be sorely disappointed.

One social media phenomenon that grew out of this election is #SafetyPin. The intent is that if you wear a safety pin on your shirt label, or your social media picture, that you are declaring yourself a safe place for someone who is fearful of what might happen in a Trump presidency, or if they’re being bullied, and to show solidarity with them. Actually, it goes back to Britain and the #Brexit vote, but the idea is the same. Two things about this. First, it’s a nice idea, as far as it goes. For many, “activism” consists of an overlay on their profile picture of a safety pin, or the French flag, but that’s often where it ends. I’m not saying it’s merely a gesture, but people on both sides of the aisle have been doing that without the need to call attention to it. And second, I have a question for the safety pinners. Where were you when people were getting their businesses shut down and their livelihoods destroyed because they wouldn’t violate beliefs that their religion has held for over 2,000 years? Where were you when those people were being bullied? Please show me, somehow, that this is not just all about politics.

I have a little advice for both sides going forward.

Republicans and conservatives; don’t get cocky. There will likely be enough issues on which we disagree with Trump that we should concentrate on that. We must hold our own accountable first. My other concern is that, where we do agree with him and say as much, we’ll be brushed off as racists, misogynists and xenophobes (all the boxes will be checked off) just as disagreement with Obama was typically brushed off, for the same reasons. But we’re used to it by now, so ignore it and just make your case.

Democrats and liberals; just keep fighting the fight. A vigorous debate is necessary to keep both sides from falling off either edge. But please try to avoid the aforementioned brush-off; that’s not debate. And in fact Trump will have some policies that you can get behind, if what I’m hearing is any indication. His ban on government employees lobbying for 5 years after they leave their job, or renegotiating the huge, secret trade deals are but two of them. Trump is, I think, more moderate than the media give him credit for. At the same time, Republicans have an historic lead in the federal and state governments for a reason. I’m not saying to shut up. I’m just reiterating what this politician once said.

“You don’t like a particular policy or a particular President, then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it.” – Barack Obama

Underlying all of this concern over Trump is a sense of fear. It’s understandable, I know where it’s coming from, and the reasons for it are real, but I think it gets stoked by those who stand to gain from exploiting it. Now, you can attribute that to Republicans or Democrats as you see fit, but I want to mention someone who rose above fear, and asked those to whom he spoke to do the same. Here’s how he put it.

This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

Yes, Franklin Delano Roosevelt; a Democrat. He said this in his first inaugural address in1933. Economically, the country was in the depths of The Depression. Socially, racism was far, far worse than it is today. So let’s turn retreat into advance.

But here’s the thing; this can’t be done by government. You can’t legislate fear away. You can pass laws to punish racism, but no law will remove it from the hearts of people. It can only be accomplished by other people.

And I would argue that it can only make a lasting change if it is done with God’s help. Many people have noted, some approvingly, that we live in a post-Christian culture. Andrew Breitbart, agree with him or not, once observed that politics is downstream from culture; that is, the politics of our country is a reflection of, and starts with, what our society values. So then, what we continue to move towards is post-Christian politics, featuring Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. How’s that working out for you?

Filed under: ElectionsRace Issues