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OpEd: Postelection reflection: Ears to Hear and the Courage to Respond

It’s time to dial down the rhetoric, listen, and love courageously.

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Jeremy Del Rio's Reflections. Illustration by A Journey through NYC religions. Photo provided by author

Jeremy Del Rio's Reflections. Illustration by A Journey through NYC religions. Photo provided by author

 

After the gloating, the hand-wringing, the lamenting and dread, the fact is that "We the People" spoke collectively to the nation on Election Day. The question now is whether we have ears to hear what was being said, and the courage to respond.

Among the people I know, one thing is obvious: this was a deeply divided outcome which reflects a conflicted electorate struggling to choose between two deeply flawed candidates. Beyond a few idealists, demagogues, and partisan hacks, I don't know many people who enthusiastically pulled the lever FOR Secretary Clinton OR President-Elect Trump.

There are at least three narratives about how Trump won. We need to hear them and respond seriously to what each story tells us.

The first story is that Trump's unapologetically narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, and xenophobic bluster and public lifestyle galvanized a bigoted base to turn out en masse to preserve a fading way of life.

The fact that he won now has our most vulnerable neighbors, and the objects of that bluster - immigrants, Muslims, women, Black and Brown Americans, the poor and disenfranchised, people with disabilities - afraid that he will carry out his threats to be Bully-in-chief.

Racists and hate groups did indeed vote for Trump. But they alone could not have brought him victory. They were joined by millions of disaffected voters who generally reject racism, sexism, and sexual assault and voted for him anyway. We need to understand these millions of fellow citizens.

 

Post-election anti-Trump demonstration, evening of November 10th. Photo: A Journey through NYC religions

Post-election anti-Trump demonstration, evening of November 10th. Photo: A Journey through NYC religions

 

The second narrative: Trump's victory repudiates the self-dealing corruption of Washington, D.C., the Clinton political machine, and smug elites.

Millions of Americans resent the undeserved influence of unaccountable lobbyists and elected officials who lecture them about what's good for the people and, then, fail to deliver on promises. The villains in this story are Teflon politicians who have learned to avoid responsibility for moral failings at the behest of special interests. Too many of Washington, D.C. politicians escape accountability by hiding evidence and conveniently "not recalling" incriminating events under oath.

The believers of this narrative portray Clinton as the worst embodiment of Washington's status quo. Many of them have never forgiven and forgotten the sins of the first Clinton presidency. Neither the prospect of the first woman President nor Trump's noxious record and toxic stump speeches were more important than purging Clinton from the D.C. cesspool.

The third narrative says Trump gave white evangelicals assurances that he would appoint conservative Supreme Court justices who would strike down laws that allow hideous late-term abortions.  So, they delivered him the White House with a whopping 81%.

As a group, evangelicals recoil at the fifty-nine million legal U.S. abortions since 1973 and were willing to disregard glaring character defects in the hope that a Trump-appointed Supreme Court majority might curtail abortion-on-demand.

All three stories are right in some ways. Bigots do love Trump. But millions of regular Americans are also tired of business as usual in D.C. And white evangelicals did ignore immorality to embrace Trump as a tool in their decades long anti-abortion fight.

 

The results

The emotions are raw and the passions run deep. Those who were scorned by Trump now fear reprisals by him or his supporters. America has a four hundred year history of exploiting the poor and marginalized in insidious ways. Less than 24 hours after the election, emboldened race-haters are already vandalizing schools and private property around the country.

Racist graffiti was put into the girl's bathroom at school in St. Paul, Minnesota. Del Rio's long-time friend is on the local school board and has two children in the school.

 

Those who resent business as usual in Washington, D.C. must remind Trump and the Republican Congress that America is great when it is great for all Americans, not just the White and privileged. Christians today have to deal with how they compromised long-held values to gain judicial appointees. They are going to need to take steps to reclaim their moral authority on behalf of the most marginalized Americans.

 

How then Shall We Respond?

Moving forward to unite a profoundly divided country requires uncommon courage in my house and yours, regardless of who occupies the White House. Here are five steps to effective bridge building.

First, rediscover the humanity in those who voted differently than you did. Most aren't jerks. They just see the world differently than you do. And those who act like jerks are still somebody's mother / father / son / daughter. Be kind to them anyway.

Second, talk less and listen more -- especially to protesters. Really, listen. The fear and angst half the country feels right now is real. If you don't feel what they feel, maybe that's because your story is fundamentally different than theirs. Stop trying to argue them out of their experience and their emotions. Find out what caused their pain, and fight for their healing as you did for your victory.

Third, stop arguing with those who disagree with you. You already won (or lost) the election. It's time to lament (or celebrate) with dignity and class. As Michele Obama reminded us throughout the campaign, when "they" go low -- whoever they are -- courageous people go high.

Fourth, love and serve your neighbors well. Find ways to work together to make America truly great, by making America good. At America's best, its people reject political expediency to fight for the vulnerable through sacrificial leadership and humility. Advocate for a more just world and offer your best to make it so.

Today, we celebrate our veterans. Do something to remember their sacrifices so that we can freely vote. Email a veteran among your family, friends or co-workers, say a prayer for protection of our soldiers overseas, or ask that God will make you a veteran healer of the wounds in our body politic.

Finally, stop cloaking political arguments in religious and spiritual mandates. God is not a Democrat or a Republican, nor does he wear any other partisan label. God neither roots for nor is surprised by the outcome of any election. And God's will shall be done regardless of who wins or loses a political contest.

 

The courage of hope

Our increasingly violent, sexually turbocharged, cynical culture got the Presidential candidates we deserved and the President-Elect for whom millions voted. Now we must live with the consequences of our collective choices -- good, bad, or otherwise.

Hope does not reside on Pennsylvania Avenue. The hope for America resides on Main Street, your street and my street. When the splinters of the electorate rediscover each other’s humanity, the love, compassion, and creative energy that grows in our hearts will provide hope that will not be disappointed.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Jeremy Del Rio, Esq. leads Thrive Collective, which provides arts, mentoring, and other services in 100 NYC public schools; and is a minister at Abounding Grace Ministries in Manhattan's Lower East Side.

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24 Responses to “OpEd: Postelection reflection: Ears to Hear and the Courage to Respond” Leave a reply ›

  • In all sincerity, i think it is time for even writers to stop using disturbing labels for the president-elect. It simply stokes up the wrong type of emotion when the article is actually trying to convey a positive message. So far, Trump has been very conciliatory as president-elect and has made no threats to anyone. Christians are supposed to be above the rhetoric of the left-wing media and accept the fact that many voted simply to be heard as Washington has ignored them for years. Let the love of Christ reign.

  • Great article and great insights. However living near a community of immigrants who have been paralyzed by fear over this election, there is something I don't get. One little cowardly girl hides in a bathroom stall and expresses her anger. That makes all the news. Hundreds of her classmates respond in dismay and reach out in love.

    http://blogs.mprnews.org/...ht-back-against-the-racists/

    That doesn't make the headlines. Why not? I feel the media make my task of encouraging and reaching out really difficult.

  • A fair, wise and extremely helpful insight. Thank you.

  • There IS no "winner" of the popular vote. The race was ran on an electoral basis -- The campaign would have been completely different if popular vote what was determined the winner. It's changing the rules of the game after the game has been played to say anyone "won the popular vote". Not to mention the vote tallies announced were only the votes that were COUNTED. Millions more ballots are never even looked at unless they become crucial to determine the winner of a state. These ballots very easily (likely) could have given Trump more votes overall.

  • Remember first of all Trump did not win the popular vote, Hillary did. Trump was elected by the electoral college not the people. The people spoke but once again they were not heard.

    For all you people that voted for Trump I understand that probably most of you did it not because of how he spoke with his hateful rhetoric. The things that came out of his mouth were racist, bigoted,misogynistic, Xena phobic, disrespected women, etc. etc. and I know many of you voted for him despite this because you don't feel in your heart that this is who you represent. But nonetheless it gave legitimate reasons for groups like the KKK and other white supremacist groups The go ahead to spew their hate and racist rhetoric and Reese's actions into mating and putting fear into many people. As Trump supporters it is now up to you to take a stand and let him know that this needs to stop and he will not tolerate racism, bigotry, misogyny, and terrorizing marginal groups ! Please send a loud message to him for the children to stop the bullying in the schools that is now taking place in his name. Please I am pleading with you to come forward as his supporters and ask him and tell him to take a stand against the hate and the hateful speech that is going on in his name and that he will not tolerate it. If you want the country to truly come together and heal then he needs to step up and call for a stop and you as his supporters need to encourage him to do this. What I didn't they were for your lunch just put them in the cupboard for right now they were over at the house for your lunch today but you had something else OK just please please put them in the cupboard there for your lunch on Monday OK

  • Thanks for putting the issues into proper perspective.

  • My hope Brother Jeremy is that a majority of our people will pause and reflect and consider these sentiments you've expressed. Otherwise violence begets violence, and America would face a new Civil War. God help our nation!

  • "The fact that he won now has our most vulnerable neighbors, and the objects of that bluster - immigrants, Muslims, women, Black and Brown Americans, the poor and disenfranchised, people with disabilities - afraid that he will carry out his threats to be Bully-in-chief."

    Your words are generally encouraging, thank you, but pointing out that you left out our LGBTQ sisters and brothers in the above sentence.

    Just. Be. Nice. We all bleed the same color blood.

  • Grateful for this incisive and insightful analysis postelection by my brother Jeremy Del Rio.

  • Read this article by my friend + colleague Jeremy Jeremy Del Rio. It's thoughtful, honest + hopeful. #election2016

  • oh but it is hard kid.

  • Incredible reflection by my brother Jeremy Del Rio. "...stop arguing with those who disagree with you. You already won (or lost) the election. It’s time to lament (or celebrate) with dignity and class. As Michele Obama reminded us throughout the campaign, when “they” go low — whoever they are — courageous people go high."

  • "America is great when it is great for all Americans." Jeremy Del Rio

  • Thanks Jeremy. Let's get to work my friends...

    Hope does not reside on Pennsylvania Avenue. The hope for America resides on Main Street, your street and my street. When the splinters of the electorate rediscover each other’s humanity, the love, compassion, and creative energy that grows in our hearts will provide hope that will not be disappointed.

  • Thanks, a good analysis and healing article

  • My wife and I read this article written by our good friend and kingdom servant Jeremy Del Río. It was helpful (and healing) for us, as we try to process and make sense of the results of this past election. Highly recommend reading and passing on.

    “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them...
    For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.”
    ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭11:3-4, 7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

  • This is the most insightful, fair, & hopeful post-election reflection I've read. There is something here to challenge everyone. (HT: Robert Guerrero)

  • Thank you for this article Jeremy Del Rio ...

  • I like this!

  • Hope does not reside on Pennsylvania Avenue. The hope for America resides on Main Street, your street and my street. When the splinters of the electorate rediscover each other’s humanity, the love, compassion, and creative energy that grows in our hearts will provide hope that will not be disappointed."
    So good....thank you, Jeremy Del Rio

  • Words of wisdom. He who has ears let him hear! Jeremy Del Rio if you ran for president you'd have my vote! 🙂

  • Thank you for the words Jeremy Del rio

  • The best post-election analysis that I have read thus far. Well done, Jeremy. 👊🏽

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