So things have calmed down here in DC and elsewhere now that the election is over.
There was an article in Make Travel Fair which noted that the day after the election things seemed rather muted and quiet on the streets of DC. Nothing like the fanfare after 2008. There was plenty of excitement election night – down on U Street and at the White House, but the next day, things were basically, well, back to normal.
I have a number of friends who are glad or at best indifferent with the results.
People of varying backgrounds, including many Christians.
The incumbent won. No big deal, right?
No big deal, except for the people who are acting as if the world just ended.
No big deal, except for the sector of our society—including some friends—who are certain that doom and gloom are now upon us.
No big deal, as evidenced by this reaction from a friend on election eve, after the race was called for Obama (pardon the French):
Friend: “This country is in the shitter.”
Me: “Maybe. But a Romney win wouldn’t have changed that.”
Friend: “That is a lie. It would show a trend back to the values that built America. Now we’re headed for socialist Europe. Obama is an utter disgrace and a massive move toward communism. His top people are evil. Obama and his people hate Christianity.
This is one of the worst days in the history of the nation. Do you have any idea the effect this will have for decades?”
Me: Stunned silence.
Friend, a few moments later: “Obama is the Great Deceiver.”
One prominent evangelical blogger wrote: “Election 2012: It’s the End of America As We Know It.” He noted: “We have re-elected a President who, at best, sympathizes with the very communistic ideas our nation risked everything to crush.”
Where are people getting this stuff? Why the harsh (over)reactions?
Perhaps one too many viewings of 2016: Obama’s America?
In any case this is a far too common reaction, as evidenced in an NPR news story today:
Many religious conservatives thought this might be the year of an evangelical comeback, when voters would throw President Obama out because of his support of same-sex marriage and abortion, and his health plan’s birth control mandate. It didn’t work out that way.
“I think this was an evangelical disaster,” says Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
Mohler says white evangelicals moved in lockstep: Seventy-nine percent voted for Republican Mitt Romney, the same percentage as voted for President George W. Bush in 2004.
All over Facebook there were responses by friends who suddenly were posting about ‘these dark days’ while quoting verses from the Psalms and saying it’s time to get on our knees. While prayer for our nation is never a bad thing, the reaction that we’ve somehow entered the dark ages is somewhat unfathomable to me.
Some of us here in DC and elsewhere across the country attended an Election Day Communion service, which reminded us of the words of Psalm 146: “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God.”
Yet it seems we’ve put our hopes elsewhere: on candidates and parties, on referendums and proposals. Yes, these are real issues, and they are our nation’s best attempts at creating a fair and just society. Each one is flawed, but nonetheless, reflects real attempts to ‘make things right.’
My hope is that followers of Jesus will spend less energy on our partisan system (which, as noted on DemocracyNow! this morning, just spent over $6 billion combined on advertising but somehow failed to mention poverty, among other crucial issues), and more on getting our hands dirty, seeking justice and the good of our own neighborhoods and communities.
And may we pledge our allegiance first and foremost to the Kingdom of God, and put our hope not in candidates, but in the cross.
The recent Sojourners article, “God is still not a Republican, or a Democrat,” by Jim Wallis and Wes Granberg-Michaelson articulates this well:
“For Americans who claim an allegiance to Christian faith, we simply plea for a reading of the whole Bible when they reflect on how their faith may influence their vote. Much is at stake, and not just on one or two issues, including the fate of immigrant “aliens and sojourners” in our land, the hunger of one-in-five children, our growing and crippling economic inequality, the stubborn and unforgivable rates of poverty in our society, the deterioration of the earth’s life-sustaining capacities, and the fragile chance for peace in the Middle East and other dangerous places.
To be sure, a biblically prophetic voice will never be content with the performance of any president, and it shouldn’t be. But it’s an obligation to speak clearly and consistently into the deafening cacophony of this presidential campaign and expect that people of faith truly do vote the values — all of the values — of their faith. And because no candidate or party comes close to expressing all of our values, we need to respect the different choices that Christians make. For all of us believers, we pray that acts of citizenship may reflect, above all else, allegiance to a vision announcing that God’s love and justice continually seeks ways to break into this world.”
May it be so.
P.S. Fears that Obama is some kind of radical progressive (or even a regular progressive) are simply inaccurate and unfounded, as was well articulated in this morning’s conversation between Amy Goodman and Cornel West and Tavis Smiley. It’s well worth a watch or a listen.
P.P.S. As for those who seemed surprised that Obama won, and thought it was going to be a Romney win or even possible blowout, check out Conor Friedersdorf’s article in The Atlantic: ”Before rank-and-file conservatives ask, “What went wrong?”, they should ask themselves a question every bit as important: “Why were we the last to realize that things were going wrong for us?”
Also, check out the interview with David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush, who noted that conservatives have been “fleeced, exploited, and lied to by a Conservative Entertainment Complex.”