Thought-Provoking Reads, vol. 4: Election Aftermath

Lauren Meyers, “Election Year: A Time for Mercy”:

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With that in mind, I encourage all Christians to stand in hope. In the midst of this election year, which has been anything but inspiring, hold fast to the hope given to us in Jesus Christ. Do not walk in endless gloom and despair, throwing your hands up in frustration and walking away sad. Do not fall into the lie of futility and despair, because to do so is, in a sense, to deny the goodness of the Incarnation. If God did not hold Himself back from the reality of humanity, neither can or should we. Pray. Study. Discuss. Work. Walk through this seeming mess as Jesus walked to Golgotha—with perseverance and hope.

Jenny Uebbing, “The Greatest, Freest, and Most Decent”:

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America is not great because she is rich.

America is not great because of her many modern conveniences and all the newest technological advances.

America is not great because she is powerful.

America is great because she is good.

Let us not lose sight of that. Especially tomorrow as our nation wakes in the light of a new administration, a new page turned in our national history. Whomever the heavy mantle of the Presidency falls upon tonight after the polls close, and however great the disappointment of half the country, we can still walk forward together in pursuit of a better, freer future for this great land of ours. We might have to work against our leaders and elected officials to realize these goals, but that does not mean they are unattainable. It just means we have to roll our sleeves up further and bend our knees in prayer more frequently.

Because America is still good. She is not perfect, but she is good. And she is worth fighting for.

Meg Hunter-Kilmer, “Moving Forward after This Election”:

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This is the trouble: we don’t understand each other. Being angry and depressed won’t fix that. But trying to love people we disagree with–even people whose choices threaten our very lives–that is the greatest act of defiance against a campaign of hatred.

America is already great. We’re great because we band together after tragedies and natural disasters. We’re great because we support each other in spite of our differences. We’re great because we celebrate the freedom to protest. We’re great because when we disagree, we still work together. Let’s honor those whose vision gave us this great country by loving each other in the midst of feelings of anger and betrayal and terror.

Whatever side of the political spectrum you fall on, you must understand that there are people who are unlike you who are terribly afraid. So whatever you feel today, fury or despondency or relief or elation, make this promise: I will not define people by their ideologies. I will love.

Then make a concrete resolution to reach out to people who may be feeling particularly attacked or endangered because of last night’s decision. Make a donation to a group that serves refugees, speak out against domestic violence, commiserate with a friend, volunteer to tutor ESL, invite an immigrant family over for Thanksgiving, keep an eye out for sexual predators when you’re at a bar, befriend a person of color who seems nervous in an all-white situation. Just find someone who isn’t like you and learn how to be an ally.

Charles Camosy, “Trump won because college-educated Americans are out of touch”:

The most important divide in this election was not between whites and non-whites. It was between those who are often referred to as “educated” voters and those who are described as “working class” voters.

The reality is that six in 10 Americans do not have a college degree, and they elected Donald Trump. College-educated people didn’t just fail to see this coming — they have struggled to display even a rudimentary understanding of the worldviews of those who voted for Trump. This is an indictment of the monolithic, insulated political culture in the vast majority our colleges and universities.

Sometimes the college-educated find themselves so unable to understand a particular working-class point of view that they will respond to those perspectives with shocking condescension. Recall that President Obama, in the midst of the 2012 election cycle, suggested that job losses were the reason working-class voters were bitterly clinging “to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” The religious themselves, meanwhile, likely do not chalk their faith up to unhappy economic prospects, and they probably find it hard to connect with politicians who seem to assume such.

Thus today’s college graduates are formed by a campus culture that leaves them unable to understand people with unfamiliar or heterodox views on guns, abortion, religion, marriage, gender and privilege. And that same culture leads such educated people to either label those with whom they disagree as bad people or reduce their stated views on these issues as actually being about something else, as in Obama’s case. Most college grads in this culture are simply never forced to engage with or seriously consider professors or texts which could provide a genuine, compelling alternative view.

These institutions should consider using quotas in hiring that help faculties and administrations more accurately reflect the wide range of norms and values present in the American people. There should be systemwide attempts to have texts assigned in classes written by people from intellectually underrepresented groups. There should be concerted efforts to protect political minorities from discrimination and marginalization, even if their views are unpopular or uncomfortable to consider.

AnneMarie Miller, “What Now?”:

When I woke up this morning, I soon jumped onto social media and news websites as I read about the election. While this is good, it does not substitute for actual human interaction. The man that I came across, my neighbor, was all alone. He lives alone, is a liberal Democrat in a fairly red state, and doesn’t have many people around him who he can talk or relate to. But talking with me—and finding common ground that we could discuss and agree on—made his day better and helped him muddle through this day.

Alyssa Pintar-Breen, “A letter to my unborn son on Nov. 8, 2016”:

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Our nation’s wounds—racism, sexism, elitism… one day we’ll talk about these things—have been bleeding in the public eyes for years now… and we need people who will look into these wounds as they appear within both individuals and systems with compassion, skill, rigor, and endurance, but most of all, with a faith that they, themselves, are instruments of a great Good Who seeks to heal, repair…  and that their strength is not their own, but given by this Good God.

David Wong, “Don’t Panic”:

The truth is, most of Trump’s voters voted for him despite the fact that he said/believes awful things, not because of it. That in no way excuses it, but I have to admit I’ve spent eight years quietly tuning out news stories about drone strikes blowing up weddings in Afghanistan. I still couldn’t point to Yemen on a map. We form blind spots for our side, because there’s something larger at stake. In their case, it’s a belief that the system is fundamentally broken and that Hillary Clinton would have been more of the same. Trump rode a wave of support from people who’ve spent the last eight years watching terrifying nightly news reports about ISIS and mass shootings and riots. They look out their front door and see painkiller addicts and closed factories. They believe that nobody in Washington gives a s**t about them, mainly because that’s 100-percent correct.

Stop being baffled. Understand why it happened. Do the opposite of panic. Work through the problem.

That sick feeling some of you have right now? They’ve had that for the last eight years. Call them racists, if you want — some of them definitely are — but mostly they’re regular people who want jobs, security, and safety. Part of that bubble effect is that we’re often shielded from “the other side” just enough that only the loudest, craziest a**holes leak through. Some of you never had a single polite conversation with a Trump supporter, but did hear about hate crimes and the baffling Reddit spammers and Breitbart bigots. You didn’t think Trump would win because you didn’t think half the country could be crazy a**holes.

Well, I’ve got good news: You were right. If you focus on the racism and ignore the economic anxiety, you’re intentionally blinding yourself to much of the problem. It doesn’t matter how much you hate them; their concerns must be heard and addressed or else this will happen again….

They don’t need your sympathy, they don’t need your thinkpieces. They need f**king jobs. They need to feel like they’re not getting left behind and they need to not actually get left behind. The system needs to change, and only one candidate promised them it would. If he fails, they’ll turn against him too. Watch.

Marc Barnes, “Christian Voting in a Time Near the Apocalypse”:

No, we need to deny the Apocalypse and begin the difficult and losing work of political revolution. We need to block off the 50 years it will take to establish a party that seeks to establish a genuine common good, in solidarity with the poor, beginning at the level closest to the human person — the home, the street, the neighborhood, the city, and so forth. We need the radical reform of the Republican party according to the principles set down by the Church’s social encyclicals. We a need a slow de-emphasizing of the importance of the nation-state and its national leaders in exchange for an emphasis on the importance of the work of justice and charity, which begins locally. We need building up of the city of man that will gather no cameras unto itself. We need time, and, contrary to the apocalyptic posturing of the politicians, we may very well have it.

Ryan Kraeger, “I still can’t care”:

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I just have a lifelong habit of not allowing myself to care about things that I cannot affect in some way. In this way I think politics, especially national politics, is really a distractor for a lot of people. We get all wrapped around the axel and bent out of shape over these huge things that really don’t concern us. Worse, the fact of getting engrossed in them distracts us from the good we should be doing.

The government does not adequately take care of the poor in America. So? How does that prevent me from taking care of them?

The president has not solved homelessness and poverty. Does that prevent me from donating to my local homeless shelter, or volunteering my time, talent, and treasure?

Abortion is legal in America. This is a tragedy, but it is not the greatest tragedy. The root of that tragedy is selfishness. It is selfishness that makes it so that babies are unwanted, that mothers feel like they have no other option, and that some so-called doctors do not care about human life. I can do foster care, or adopt, or sponsor an unwed mother, or engage in conversation with my fellow medical-care providers. The government does not and cannot prevent me from doing so.

The president has not provided free healthcare for everyone. So? Why can’t I provide free healthcare, or reduced cost healthcare for patients who can’t afford it (once I get my PA certification, that is)?

The president has not stopped pollution, or saved the planet. So what? How does that prevent me from living simply, reducing my own trash and exercising stewardship of the environment.

Elizabeth Hansen, “The pro-life old guard has lost its way and must now step aside”:

If pro-lifers are okay with a Catholic priest trotting out the body of a child, arranging him for the camera like a slaughtered lamb, and then launching into a nearly hour-long, wandering tirade against the Democratic party before chirpily telling viewers to “go out there and get more votes” – then truly, theirs is a house of cards built on yet another ideology where the ends justify the means.

(To be fair, the Diocese of Amarillo, in which Pavone is incardinated, issued a strongly worded statement against his actions and said an investigation is underway).

Is Pavone representative of the established pro-life movement that signed their names to Trump’s campaign and mobilized countless others to vote Trump, in hopes of ending abortion? I hope to God he’s not, and after watching part of his “election victory” video posted Wednesday, in which he triumphantly tells his webcam, “We have nothing to be ashamed of,” I truly question his state of mind.

I’m a JPII Generation Catholic who spent weekends in college praying outside abortion clinics, froze in D.C. Januaries to march for life, and studied theology at one of the most unapologetically pro-life universities in the country. And when I look at the pro-life movement that was so formative for my childhood and college years, I see the old guard that has lost its way.

Simcha Fisher, “I’m a single-issue pro-lifer in a swing state, and I cannot vote for Trump”:

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So what happens (and what’s already happening) when pro-lifers openly support Trump and say that he represents our goals and values? Checks come pouring in to pro-choice candidates. Sane people take one look at him and say, “If that’s what it means to be pro-life, then helllllll, no.” A Trump presidency backed by pro-lifers would energize the pro-choice movement in ways we’ve never seen before, ever. Money, enthusiasm, legislative pressure, local and state election — all, all will go shrieking away from pro-lifers. And this is one thing that you really can pin directly on who’s president.

Kathryn Whitaker, “The Dangerous Thing We All Do”:

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We’re quick to blame and quick to migrate toward those who are like us. We surround ourselves with only Catholics, or moms, or Aggies, or whites, or straight, or {insert whatever label I missed here}. But God doesn’t call us to be hospitable to just those who are like us, but those who are different from us.

It’s a dangerous game of judging people by their social media profile picture or a single tweet. We’ve boiled down opinions to 140 characters, or less. We’re making dangerous assumptions about people we’ve never met, shaken a hand with or even been in the same room with—how dare we do that.

Kathryn Jean Lopez, “Love and the Election Ruins”:

In terms of now and the days ahead, that could mean calling a friend you may have vowed to “unfriend” or avoid because of vocal election decisions and saying you’re sorry and coming up with a project or social occasion that will raise spirits or help people in your community or a world away.

As the burden of this election nears an end, humility and love won’t veil differences, but see the richness there and more. We’ll get down to our common identity as created beings called to good stewardship of gifts, most especially of our lives. It’s a start at beginning again — avoiding a repeat, or worse. It’s a way to keep moving forward.


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