Friday, November 11, 2016

Trump, The Disunited States of America, and God

America is more divided than ever before in living memory, so much so that it should be called the Disunited States of America as the results of  the November 8 election illustrate, One half of the country is wondering how the other half could have voted for Donald Trump. The rest of the world can only look on in dismay as I did. Now, after a few days I am able to channel my dismay and offer a few remarks.

All of us had better get used to saying, "President Trump." The unimaginable has happened! And as a result, we also need to get used to talking about "The Disunited States of America." The USA is no more, it seems, except on paper.

On November 8, 2016, a new country called the Disunited States of America was born. It is not official yet, but is already a reality. This new country has had a long gestation period. Election Day 2016 was the delivery date. The birth of  the Disunited States of America was inevitable after what has happened in the last few decades but even more the last few years with Trump's victory. He will be the first president of that new country.

Several questions might be asked, however: How long this new country will survive? Is it possible to bring back the old? Unfortunately, these questions are too big to answer now. At the moment, I merely want to look at what we can learn from the aftermath of November 8 about the disunity that exists in America,.

"Disunite" is in the dictionary. When used transitively, it means to cause disagreement or alienation among or within, or to separate, sever, or split; used intransitively. it means to disintegrate;or to come apart. Both uses are possible in this case.

"The Disunited States of America" is also the title of an alternative-reality novel, The country it envisions is one where the different American states never united and went to war with each other. This is not the reality we have known for so long. This name, however, strikes  me as highly appropriate.for what is currently happening. The election of Donald Trump is an expression of that disunity.

The dissolution of the United States is a possibility that many people have discussed in the past. Yet most people are frightened by that idea, The American Civil War was fought to stop such a breakup. What will happen if California secedes, as some people there are now threatening to do? But what is happening today is different from what happened a century and a half ago.

What prompts today's disunity is not expressed in the divisions that exist between the various states that were illustrated aptly on the electoral map that evening, but the divisions that exist within the entire\populace. These divisions have existed for a long time, but they have never been as visible as now. That is why, after November 8, I suggest that the United States of America be renamed the Disunited States of America.

In my admittedly limited experience, the polarization in the USA has never been greater. An entire nation, as well as many people all over the world, were stunned by the results of the presidential election. Half the nation is elated and a slightly larger number are depressed. It is important to understand that this is not normal. In any election, of course, there are winners and losers.. But what is happening before our eyes is not typical of  bare-knuckle politics. Something extraordinary is happening: something much more nefarious and dangerous.

The idea of America as politically polarized -- that there is an unbridgeable divide between right and left, red and blue states -- has become a cliché. What we must realize, however, is that the increasing polarization in recent decades has been closely accompanied by fundamental social and economic changes -- most notably, a parallel rise in income inequality. This phenomenon has been noted in many other countries as well.

As a result, in countries all over the globe and not only in the US, many political parties have moved right, away from re-distributive policies that would reduce income inequality. Economic inequality has fed directly into political polarization, and polarization in turn creates policies that further increase inequality. This has become a vicious circle. In America the result has been catastrophic.

Donald Trump capitalized on the growing inequality and won the election as a result. People who wanted change flocked to him. His racist, sexist remarks and his misogynistic behavior added to his appeal. They hate Obama because of his race and his policies, especially Obama Care.

Also, people did not want to vote for a .woman candidate. As the consummate insider, Hilary Clinton represented the powerful elite who did not want change. Above all, she was a woman and carried a lot of political baggage, not least her alleged untrustworthiness.. Clinton would not be able to bring about real change, not the spurious changes Trump trumpeted.

Bernie Sanders, even though he represents the far left in American politics, might have been a better choice for the Democrats. His program also advocated change, and thus addressed the concern of many young people in particular. I doubt, however, that he would have attracted much support from the "angry white men" who form Trump's core constituency.

America faces many serious problems: a costly and cruel healthcare system, an energy system that contributes to damaging climate change, and an incoherent immigration system. None of these problems can be solved or even significantly ameliorated under the present setup.

Trump was the advocate of change. He promised to undo Obama Care, build a wall on the border with Mexico.. He also denied the human factor in climate change and threatened to deport Muslims.. If Clinton had become president, the present setup would likely have continued unchanged, but she would not have adopted Trump's absurd policies. Those are not the changes that America needs.

Trump's vices seem to outnumber his virtues. He is a lot of things to many people., depending largely on their attitude to him. For those who oppose him, he is all the things that the media has repeatedly cited. How could this man be even considered for the presidency? He is a nightmare for many. Perhaps the world will wake up soon from this collective nightmare.

How does God enter into the picture? Some, even many, Christians (as well as other people of faith) blithely assume that God will bless America because they, as righteous people, have voted for certain politicians who agree with their supposedly biblical stance on issues, whether that be abortion, same-sex marriage, gun-control, immigration, and so on. These are all polarizing issues and have become more so since Trump appeared on the scene.

In Trump's case, what they overlooked is his un-Christian language and behavior. Trump has played the evangelical Christian card even more than his recent Republican predecessors. Holding up a Bible, as he has done on occasion, does not make him a Christian.

Not surprisingly, Trump's candidacy has served to polarize the American populace even more.  He used the popularizing issues for his own benefit. His election victory is the  result. Now the world shudders with the though of him taking office. He may be the least qualified presidential candidate of all time, as Obama has stated. His moral qualities are equally lacking.

Trump is a polarizing figure in his own right. People either love him or despise him. You cannot be neutral with regard to Trump. Those who love him were elated on November 8, while those who despised him were depressed when the evening was over.

These feelings are intense and will continue to be for a long time. The division runs so deep that I have renamed America "The Disunited States." In a previous post, I suggested that all people of faith pray for the election, praying in particular for peace and reconciliation. No doubt, many people did any way.

Thankfully, there was peace for the most part during the election itself. But the intensity of the feelings involved was evident already when many protesters in America's largest cities holding signs with the slogan, "Trump is not my president."

Since I am a Canadian, he is not my president either, but he is the president of my daughter and her family who are Americans. In my house, many of us had a sleepless night as we watched the election results. Admittedly, Clinton was a terrible candidate. This judgment has nothing to do with her being a woman. I too had hoped that the greatest glass ceiling of all in America had finally been shattered. That did not happen, not yet.

Out of 330 million Americans, surely two people could have been found to be the standard bearers for the two major parties. Would God bless America because of these two candidates. Hardly! Both are less than the best. America needs the best!

I don't want to list the shortcomings of each of them. That they already did for each other, and the media finished the hatchet job. Future presidential campaigns must never be allowed to descend to such depths again. The office of president is the most dignified one in the country, and the campaigns must demonstrate that.

What I suggest now are renewed prayers for all who were involved in this election. Special prayers are needed for Trump. Even if he himself does not fear God, we who do must pray for him, although not the way some Christians prayed that Obama would be removed from office and replaced by someone else. If we pray sincerely for the president, then we will not need to remain fearful for the next four years.

No doubt, some people may wish to go to sleep for a few years, somewhat like Rip Van Winkle did, But that is not possible. What we can and must do is pray for good leadership during the next presidential term. Then we will be able to get up every morning and great a new day. Obama promised that after a long sleepless night the sun would get up in the morning after the election, and it did.

Maybe the Disunited States of America.will become truly united again -- united in fact and not only in name. That is my earnest prayer. Please pray with me for unity. May God richly bless America!

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