A little more than three weeks out from the presidential election, and the anti-Trump riots have subsided, at least for now. This might be the calm before the proverbial storm, if some predictions are correct. In any case, extreme negative responses on the left continue, as do exuberant responses on the right. Such strong reactions among Christians are especially dismaying—suggesting that there is an inordinate hope and trust in political power for human flourishing in this country. We need to heed Augustine’s important reminder that there is only one reasonable Kingdom hope, and that is in the Kingdom to come where Christ is king. Of course, this does not mean we should be apathetic or unengaged in civil matters and political work. But it does mean that we should not be distraught or desperate when those we vote or campaign for do not win elections.

Slate.com
Slate.com

In 2008 many felt a sense of doom when Obama was elected. They expressed the same sort of desperation and distress that some on the left have been experiencing lately (though I don’t recall any rioting as a consequence of this). Well, those eight years passed, and we’re all still here. Will we survive the next four years under a Trump administration? I think its safe to say that we will, that is unless the populous reacts in severe and destructive ways, which certainly seems possible if anti-Trump sentiments continue to grow.

Often in politics the response to a negative situation can be more dangerous than the negative situation itself—like an allergic reaction to a relatively minor health issue can prompt a serious, even fatal condition. As a nation, we need to avoid such a deadly “allergic” response to the Trump presidency. Many of these responses, by the way, seem to be aggravated by media exacerbation of Trump’s vices, which are numerous, for sure, but hardly out of step with those of past presidents—including the severe racism of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson and the womanizing of JFK and Bill Clinton. I didn’t vote for Trump and am disappointed that he is poised to be our next President (though I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton and think she would have been an even worse choice). But I do think we owe Trump a chance to govern and we should apply the principle of charity when it comes to interpreting many of his comments. Just as many conservatives gave Obama a fair chance and responded peacefully while critiquing his policy decisions along the way, liberals should likewise give the Trump administration a fair chance, and this includes responding peacefully even while offering well-reasoned and respectful critiques.


8 Responses to “Anticipating a Trump Presidency”


  1. Xan

     

    I don’t disagree with what I take to be the main message of this post, but I think the emphasis should be laid elsewhere.

    That his vices aren’t out of step with vice-ridden presidents of the past isn’t terribly comforting, nor is the fact that it’s not the 1920s or the 1940s. The fact that Trump’s rhetoric could be normalized so quickly in 2016 in one of the world’s leading liberal democracies should cause grave concern, even for those who voted for him because they felt that they were left with no better option. All people who value virtue and the ideals behind a liberal democracy — whether liberal, conservative, Trump voter or not — should be sounding sober alarms. There are a million reasons to do so.

    Reply
    • Rick

       

      Nicely said, Xan.

      Comparisons are helpful to a point, but our president-elect is operating in a context unlike any in history, has public evidence of moral failings (and doesn’t seem to see them as moral failings), and his “policies” seem to depend on how he’s feeling on a given day more than any coherent framework. Yes, as Christians we know better than to rely on human government for flourishing, yet we are also called to sound the alarm as the prophets did, both about the character of leaders and of affeft of their actions on those close to the heart of God – the poor, the orphan, the widow, the alien, those marginalized by society. Okay, so maybe I should be posting this elsewhere (or not at all); I recognize the sentiment of the blog post, yet believe we have more cause for concern than suggested. And I disagree that Clinton would have been a worse choice than our president-elect. But that’s another story.

      Reply
    • Dave

       

      Is it a fact that in 2016 we are in human history (at least in this country of ours) at the height of right moral understanding? That’s what you seem to imply. And against what standard is that to be measured? Also, define “ideals behind a *liberal democracy*” versus the ideals of the *democratic republic* that the United Sates was founded upon.

      Reply
      • Xan

         

        Thanks for the response Dave.

        Nothing about what I said implies that we’re at the height of moral understanding. At most it implies that we’ve attained a better state of moral understanding or consciousness. I don’t really see how that can be controversial (fewer lynchings, interracial marriage is legal, slavery is abolished, greater respect for children, women can vote, work, and hold office, a greater consciousness pertaining to the well-being of animals and the environment, and of course more controversial issues that I’ll leave out). Indeed, the very possibility of having knowledge of the past in itself contributes to the likelihood of having greater understanding. Do you believe that we are in no better position to recognize injustice in 2016 than in the 1920s?

        I’m also not really sure how my “ideals of a liberal democracy” would differ from the ideals that this country was founded upon. Perhaps you can elaborate? I include the following among the ideals of a liberal democracy: freedom of and from religion, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly; the right to life, liberty, and property; the right to not be subject to discrimination and harassment; respect for the freedoms and equality of others (even those you disagree with); etc… You get the idea. The common denominator: freedom and equality. Certainly nothing I’ve said here is incompatible with a republic?

        Again, thanks for the comment.

        Reply
  2. thomas spiegel

     

    Yoh, my Bro…there will be NO George Soros funded further domestic reaction to a Pres-Elect Trump…it’s gone…well before inauguration…These reactions…somewhat normal, per USA politics and reactions…Trump will , like Reagan, push and get passed several needed economic reforms to induce higher productivity via tax reforms of all types….I’ve seen it before, and so have you. He’ll be a good president…perhaps even a great one. He’s smart, a great leader, a proven BUSINESS SUCCESS, one should always remember…a non-politician, a NY street fighter who does NOT turn the other cheek. Refreshing.

    Reply
  3. Gabriele

     

    Thanks Dr. Spiegel,

    I think the fundamental moral dilemma you are addressing is one of RESPECT, respect for persons, including those in government and recognizing that in our modern world of sound bite, tweets, and a failure to listen and understand what a person means by what he/she says– we may misunderstand the intent of a person because of their inability to correctly articulate their point. So Trump is likely misunderstood as well as Hillary was likely misunderstood due to the nature of reporting in a fair and unbiased fashion and the inability for some people to properly get their view point clearly stated in a manner that is not misconstrued by the hearers ears.

    However, because the fundamental issues of RESPECT and inherent value of persons IS at stake– when a person uses words freely and liberally and seemingly WITHOUT concern for the effect they will take place– we should be very very concerned. Especially so, because we live in a society that only listens to words and tidbits and at times false information if it confirms one’s own bias. We must be TRUTH seekers and in whatever realm, but we also must seek to have WISE governors, and ‘loose lips sink ships!’ Or theologically ‘set a blaze on fire’. So let us not underestimate peoples real and visceral gut reaction to someone whose tongue seems to be setting many fires ablaze.

    When we take time to speak to the ‘other’ the people that are marginalized by these ‘comments’ it has a very REAL and profound effect on the way they are viewed by others due to a leaders standpoint. Words are meant to bring LIFE not strife…

    But I agree- it is certainly a time for much need of wisdom and Discernment– perhaps like we have never seen before. So LETS PRAY for that!!

    Reply

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