It’s not too late to do what’s right

I tried to vote for Hillary Clinton. I really did. As Election Day drew near, though, I realized that a vote for Clinton would be interpreted as an endorsement. It did not matter that my vote for her was meant simply as a vote against Trump, it would not be catalogued that way.

And so, in the end, I voted for independent Evan McMullin. I understood that I was voting for someone who could not possibly win, but I also understood that votes are interpreted as endorsements, and we need to be very careful with them.

I wish my friends who voted for Trump had been more careful. I understand that many of them intended their votes simply to be votes against Clinton. Perhaps they couldn’t abide her extreme abortion views. Maybe they were tired of progressives’ condescending finger-wagging. They may believe the Obama economic policies have failed to serve the country, and they are fearful of insurance premiums rising even higher.

All of these are reasonable objections in my view. Unfortunately, in the service of these beliefs, my friends also endorsed dangerous and racist views. The intent of their votes does nothing to mitigate their impact.

Just ask the KKK—who are planning a parade in North Carolina to celebrate Donald Trump’s victory. Or the hundreds of Americans of color who have faced graffiti swastikas or been told to “go back to your country” in the last week. Or the young girl in my own town whose behind was grabbed by a man who declared, “This will be mine. I’ve seen you around before. This is a free country now, bitch.”

Friends who voted for Trump — all these people who are harassing, grabbing, and threatening your fellow Americans understood your vote to be a vote for white nationalism and sexual degradation of women.

President-elect Trump’s very brief statement on 60 Minutes does little to counter that impression, especially since it was quickly followed by his appointment of Stephen Bannon as his new “Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor.” Until a few months ago, Bannon was the chairman of Breitbart News which he happily declared was the platform for the alt-right, a group relentlessly pursuing white supremacist nationalism.  Or as National Review described it yesterday,

The alt-right is a hodgepodge of philosophies that, at their heart, reject the fundamental principle that “all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.” The alt-right embraces an ethno-nationalism that has its counterparts in the worst of the European far-right: Golden Dawn in Greece, or Hungary’s Jobbik.

So, what are you, my friends who voted for Donald Trump to do? You yourselves are not white nationalists or racist bullies, but now what? It is too late to retract your vote, but I do not think it is too late to mitigate some of its impact. I actually think the answer is quite simple—you could consider repenting.

If you are open to repenting, you could start by listening deeply to the pain your votes caused. If you do not have friends of color (perhaps an underlying problem), I recommend these articles:  I want to help you understand my lament, What I wish my white friends and family understood about our election grief, and Open letter to conservatives. 

You well-intentioned Trump voters may need to admit (perhaps first to yourselves) that you did not understand the impact of your vote, you did not foresee its consequences. You may need to examine why you did not believe Americans of color when they explained the danger a Trump presidency would put them in. Then you need to speak, loudly and publicly, to denounce the racism and hate that is being spewed in your name. And you should be ready to race to the sides of Americans of color who are being threatened and harassed in your presence.

I personally am repenting that I did not use my own platform to make a case for a third way, that I did not outline a way to vote that endorsed neither Clinton nor Trump. I failed to understand how troubled my friends were by Clinton and did not think to suggest there was a way to vote against her without voting for Trump. I neglected to do one important thing I could have done because I underestimated fellow Christians’ discomfort with Clinton and overestimated their discomfort with Trump.

Christian friends who voted for Trump, can you acknowledge your vote has lent support to dangerous, evil impulses in our society? Can you join the public lament that is grieved to see the KKK parading and an alt-right supporter preparing an office in the White House? It may be too late to repair all the damage, but it is not too late to do what is right. It never is.

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6 thoughts on “It’s not too late to do what’s right

  1. Pingback: What a vote for Trump says to Black Americans – Thinking about such things

  2. I think this article expresses ideas and actions of President Obama as well as President-Elect Trump. Racism is at the forefront under Obama, not just as it may be under a Trump administration. Are you trying to tell me that Trump caused some girl’s behind to be grabbed? That hasn’t happened under Obama? Are you saying that only Trump harasses, threatens? I believe we have had plenty of that under Obama who has used his executive power to do things that the people’s representatives haven’t approved. We live in interesting times. Your generation’s values are quite different than those of past generations. Our generation can take responsibility for rearing a selfish, egotistical, know-it-all generation who think they have all of the answers. The work ethic that was necessary for survival in my generation has somehow missed this generation. Rather, we are expected to give hand outs and repent. I’m sorry, I’m no buying this. What I do know is that if our generation had been as judgmental as you are in this article, we would be ostracized instantly.

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  3. I am sorry that this post offended you, Deloris. That was not my intent. I imagine it was my use of the word “repent” that bugged you. I wanted to suggest, though, that there is an option beyond feeling bad for anyone who voted for Trump and is now troubled by what some of his supporters are doing to harass other Americans. I do think there are Trump voters who are now concerned, and I wanted them to know that they can act in redress.

    I also know that there are Trump voters (probably like yourself) who feel jumped on and are tired of being condemned for their vote in what was a very difficult election. I get that. Yes, I agree much of what we are seeing play out are generational differences. Yours seems to prioritize different values than mine, and I believe that many of the values being championed by your generation are important.

    So, it still seems to me that a pressing question for the members of your generation who voted for Trump for reasons that were truly not racist or sexist, is how do you fight the racism and sexism that are now being perpetrated in his name (and yours)?

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  4. Pingback: If I could have a word with my Christian friends – Thinking about such things

  5. Pingback: My most-read posts of 2016 – Thinking about such things

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