I went to bed early last night and woke up really early this morning, and even though I like to remind myself that no one knows the future, I was still surprised by the election result. Here are some early thoughts, in no particular order.
Donald Trump’s victory reminds us once again: no one knows the future. I wrote last year about how the experts always want us to believe that they can predict the future, but that they are always wrong. None of the experts predicted Mr. Trump’s victory in the primaries, and none of the experts predicted his victory last night. I’ll say it again: No one knows the future. Though the inherent obscurity of the future could seem terrifying, I tend to find this truth strangely comforting: it means that there is potential in every situation for the grace of God to be at work.
The reason our politics is so bitter is because we don’t believe in the transcendent and the eternal. If naked political power is all there is, then you have to fight tooth and claw to achieve it. Since we’ve killed off God in the West, we have nothing else to live for.
We should pray for Barron Trump. A ten year-old little boy, thrust into the spotlight.
I cannot imagine what Hillary Clinton must be feeling this morning. As with any celebrity, it’s easy to forget that Mrs. Clinton is a real person. She’s been reaching for the presidency for much of her life; the bitterness of her loss this morning must be overwhelming.
This election proves how distant the elites that run our country are from millions of ordinary people. The establishment–including the conservative establishment–was opposed to Donald Trump’s candidacy. And yet he won anyway. It cannot be good for America in the long term for the people with power–in the media, in academia, in business, and in government–to be so different from the people without it.
We have no shared purpose as a people. I think Rod Dreher’s metaphor is helpful:
Here’s the problem, as I see it. Is the American nation (or any nation) more like:
- The diverse crowd that gathers at the shopping mall on Saturday afternoon, or
- The diverse crowd that gathers at the football stadium on Saturday night?
The difference is that the only thing the first crowd shares is little more than a geographical space, but the second crowd shares not only a geographical space, but a purpose.
Our problem is that we want the solidarity and sense of purpose that the football stadium crowd possesses, but without its shared sense of a mission greater than the individuals engaged in it. I don’t think this is a problem that politics can solve, but it is certainly a problem that politics can exacerbate. As the next four years will demonstrate.
Instead of the Stadium as a symbol, I might have used the Cathedral, but of course America, as a foundationally secular nation, is better represented by a stadium. Plus, these days, Cathedrals function more like Malls, in the sense I mean in this post. There’s not much shared sense of purpose there, only a diverse group of people gathered in a particular geographical space to pursue private ends. The Mall really is the symbol of our place in this time.
I suspect the Bradley Effect was in effect yesterday. I wrote about the Bradley effect in yesterday’s post.
Politics exposes our idols. Millions of people would be in despair this morning had Mrs. Clinton won. Millions of people are despairing because Mr. Trump has won. Ravi Zacharias has it right: “The loneliest moment is life is when you have just experienced that which you thought would deliver the ultimate and it has just let you down.”
I’m glad the Church is “of no party or clique.” My job is to be a pastor, a shepherd of people. That responsibility does not depend on the fortunes of any party or clique, and my calling is to people, regardless of how they vote. I’m glad of that, this morning.
As my friend Matt Judkins, a pastor in Oklahoma, puts it:
The church I serve has people who voted for Trump, Hillary, & even Johnson. I'm going to keep pointing them to the One who can save.
— Matt Judkins (@matt_judkins) November 9, 2016
The fox knows many things;
The hedgehog knows one big thing.
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