What we must do now.
Early this morning, around 2:38am, in what is possibly the most surprising political upset in history, Donald J. Trump was elected 45th President of the United States.
It was Wisconsin that gave him the final 10 electoral votes he needed to put him over the 270 he needed to win the White House. The final tally, with some states still reporting, was Donald Trump at 276 and Hillary Clinton at 218.
Online and around the world, people reacted pretty much unanimously: shock. Much of the conversation this morning is how much all of our polls were wrong. People on social media expressed fear and uncertainty as hashtags like "Not My President," "Mourning in America," and "The Audacity of Hopelessness" started trending on Twitter.
Personally, I don't really know what to think this morning. Like I wrote last night on Twitter, I don't think anyone really saw this coming, possibly even Trump himself. Many people are still wrapping their heads around the implications of this decision. Our first black president will be replaced by someone who questioned his authenticity as an American for years. We will not see our first female president, but instead send to the Oval Office a man who has publicly called women "pigs," and bragged on tape about sexually assaulting them.
I don't really need to go into the litany of reasons why I'm not thrilled about this outcome this morning. But I'm of two minds. We live in a democracy, and part of what living in a democracy means is accepting the results of our elections, even when we don't agree with them. I don't like that people are already talking online about fleeing the country, or that Trump "is not their President." I didn't like it when people said that about Obama four years ago. I try to think about how I would feel if the results had gone another way. I'd feel like the other side were being sore losers. After a long and contentious campaign, the most important thing to do is to fight for unity and reconciliation in America. Part of me feels like the best thing we can do is unite behind him and hope in his success.
However, I'm also not a minority. I'm not a woman. I'm not one of the targets of Trump's vitriol throughout this campaign, and I can't possibly imagine what it must feel like this morning to see your country elect someone that has been so openly hostile to you to the Presidency. I can't presume to tell people to just calm down, everything will be fine. We need to recognize that people's fears are real, and they are legitimate.
But I'm also a Christian, and as a Christian, I believe that there is a higher power that cares even more than I do about the outcome of all of this. I believe that I have just as many failings as Donald Trump and am just as much in need of mercy and grace as he is. I believe that we have a God who, yes, establishes rulers, but also hears cries the poor and the downtrodden. I take hope in that this morning. As Russell Moore wrote in a opinion piece in the Washington Post this morning:
The church must be, as Martin Luther King Jr. taught us — the conscience of the state. But we do that from a place of gospel power, not a place of cowering fear. That means that we — all of us — should see this election as important for our country, but not ultimate for our cosmos.
There will be difficult days ahead, that's for sure. and we will need to do some serious soul-searching as a nation. But ultimately, life will go on, America and democracy will be preserved, and the church will be a place where healing will - must - happen.