About a year from now, all sorts of “experts” will write books trying to explain the election of 2016 to us.
Thousands, if not millions, of words will be employed telling us what Donald Trump and/or Hillary Clinton did wrong, how the news media helped or hurt each candidate, and why this or that demographic group voted the way it did. Sociologists will tell us what the results show about the American people; political scientists will analyze the vote to explain why this group or that one voted the way it did; and economists will tell us how the economy influenced the vote. Historians will enlighten us about how our past led to the results, and psychologists will try to explain what was wrong with our brains that made us vote the way we did.
Theologians will likely contribute books as well. One theologian will explain why the election results represent the triumph of good over evil, while another warns how the election shows that the end is near and we should prepare for the apocalypse.
I don’t intend to write a book. I’m not one of those guys who has a book inside me, waiting for my fingers to start working a keyboard. Besides, I’m a generalist, not a specialist, which means I know a little about everything, but not much of anything — or at least not enough to write a book. So, if there is a book inside me, that’s probably where it should stay.
If I were to write a book, though, I have a couple of titles that would be perfect. My first choice would be, “I Wish We Had Different Candidates”; my second, “Electing (that candidate) Would Be a Disaster.” We’ve heard both of those statements over the past year, and they sum up the feelings of many, if not nearly all, voters quite nicely.
The common thinking among Americans is that both of the major party candidates are not just flawed, but deeply flawed. Clinton is believed by many to be greedy, power-hungry and dishonest. Some even call her a psychopathic liar, who has covered for her husband’s adulterous behavior by attacking the integrity of his accusers. Others say Trump can’t open his mouth without lying, and even lies about having lied. Lately he has been accused of bragging about committing sexual assault, and a writer who worked with him says he believes Trump is a sociopath, which puts him in the same class as serial killers.
As a born-again Baptist currently keeping company with Presbyterians, I’ve been especially interested in the quandary many evangelical Christians have found themselves in as the election draws nigh. For more than two decades, they have been arguing that presidents should be of good character, and most believe the Clintons don’t have it. Now they are faced with a choice between someone whose character they have been attacking for years and a guy whose character exudes racism, bigotry and misogyny, not to mention some shady financial shenanigans. Worse, he has a shaky grasp on the way our government functions, including the fact that there are some things the president can’t do.
Not surprisingly, then, Christians are a bit divided. Some are openly opposing Trump, although not going so far as to support Clinton. Just last weekend, a group of 94 influential evangelical ministers issued a letter denouncing Trump’s bigotry and urging evangelicals to withdraw their support. They join many other evangelical leaders, a group that includes Sen. Ted Cruz’s father, who have opposed Trump from the beginning, citing his racism, his threats to discriminate against Muslims in conflict with the First Amendment, his attitudes toward women and the general nastiness of his campaign.
Other evangelicals, however, have decided that, whatever Trump’s faults, Clinton’s support for the right of gays to marry and women’s access to abortion are worse. In addition, they see Clinton’s election as leading to socialism, which they believe is ungodly. Some believe, or at least hope, that somewhere along the line, Trump has become a Christian. Others are putting their faith in Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, apparently in the belief that he can moderate Trump once they are in office. The fact that Pence hasn’t been able to do this so far makes this unlikely, though, as does the fact that the vice presidency is a nearly powerless office accurately described by one of its previous holders as “not worth a bucket of warm spit.”
Among the statements from evangelical ministers in support of Trump was the reminder that, biblically, God often used flawed people to achieve his purposes — men like Samson, Gideon and Peter. That, of course, opens the door to supporting a really flawed guy in 2016. But that argument itself has a flaw. If God could use a flawed man like Trump, why couldn’t he use a flawed woman like Clinton as well?
What it all boils down to is that, with any political choice I might make, I’m choosing the lesser of two evils — and so is everyone else, whether they realize it or not.
That being the case, I will close with one of the most comforting verses in the Bible, Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.”
Take comfort in the fact that, no matter who you vote for, it can result in good, at least if you love God.