Early Tuesday morning, Donald Trump became our president-elect. It was shocking, and it feels like an Orwellian nightmare. My Twitter feed Wednesday morning was full of so much pain. “Vote for the platform, not the person” leaves a bitter taste in the mouth when said person ran an openly racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, bigoted campaign. It’s a bitter example of white privilege, hear me out on this, when you vote for someone who makes large swaths of our country feel put down, kept out, demonized, only because “he’s going to appoint pro-life judges.” And the overwhelming support of evangelicals? I think I can be forgiven for feeling like the American church went the way of the pharisees. It’d be one thing if the church collectively said “Look, you can have our support if you change A, B, and C.” Challenged him, and hard, just like the church should challenge everyone to be a better person, like Jesus did, continually standing with the downtrodden, weary laden, outcast, prisoner, orphan, widow. But they didn’t, and secured their political wishes for 30 pieces of silver.
I had skin in the game on this election, too. I work in local food systems, and contribute a little bit on some policy work at the state and national levels. A new Secretary of Agriculture picked by Trump will certainly affect me. In the past, I really only had values at stake, but this time I had actual tangible things my hands help make at stake. It’s a new perspective for me, and it helps me understand politics a little better, actually.
But I’ll be fine, though. I’m a straight, white, college educated male. While this election will affect me, my family will be OK. And here’s the thing, I knew that going in. So when I stepped into the booth on Tuesday, I chose to keep in mind the marginalized. The outcast. The poor and disenfranchised. I voted based on furthering the work I’m involved in, yes, but more than that I voted to amplify the voice of these people. The people who are saying “we are hurting,” or “we’re not being treated fairly.” Muslims. Immigrants. Black and brown. LGBT. Women. Refugees. Because they are my brothers and sisters.
That’s why the morning after was so hard for me. I’ve sat and listened to these people the last couple years, just listened to their stories and tried to imagine what life is like in their shoes. Sat in solidarity with their suffering, just trying to understand, really understand. Why? Because that’s what Jesus did, and for all my doubts and questions and struggles, I still know that following in those footsteps can still open you up to beauty and love. So when these same people start expressing their pain at the results and what it stands for, I felt it deeply. I gained a new understanding of what it means to “mourn with those who mourn.” Make no mistake, I had no illusions about Clinton, and I don’t align with either party. It was just that Trump’s defeat was supposed to be a resounding “NO” to fear and hate. It was supposed to say that no matter your platform or policies, the moment you lower one group of people is the moment you lower us all. But instead, America (not the majority, ironically), said “YES.”
The morning after, I had to catch a flight. One of my flight attendants was a black woman, and her feelings were painfully evident on her face. She looked crushed. At O’Hare, the entire airport was somber. People, especially of those groups, wouldn’t meet my eyes. I don’t blame them. I literally walked through the terminal with tears. In the bathroom, I watched a black man walk to the very last sink, wash his hands, and then take a moment to put himself together in the mirror, giving himself a silent pep talk. I tried to give out extra smiles and show extra kindness, but I felt so helpless.
So what am I going to do with that? After the sadness, after giving space, I’m going to carry on. Keeping listening. Keep finding ways to give voice to those on the fringes, and trying to be a part of changing the way we talk about things. This blog is a tiny part of it. If we each do a little bit, if we reach out to those that are different, if we embrace the other, keep loving more, keep our hearts and minds open – then maybe, just maybe, our collective little pieces will add up, and America will not be made great again, but will become greater than it’s ever been.
Let’s get to work.
Peace and tenacity,