It’s Monday morning, July 18th. Every single news station and affiliate is tuned into Cleveland to watch as Donald Trump swoops in to either unite or destroy the Republican Party. Frankly, I think most news groups would like to see it implode; it would boost ratings and Hillary Clinton’s chances in the polls.
As I was watching the morning news here at my desk, one of the delegates interviewed for a news bit on CNN caught my attention with something he said (watch the entire segment here: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/18/politics/rnc-2016-party-unity/index.html). This delegate, John Martin, referenced a quote saying, “It’s not Trump vs. Jesus; It’s Trump vs. Hillary Clinton!” In this piece, he was speaking directly to Senator Ted Cruz or Dr. Ben Carson supporters, but in reality, he was speaking to a larger group than we would like to admit.
I identify myself as a Protestant Christian; I attend a Christian university, I go to church regularly, and my Bible is sitting open near my right elbow at the moment. Christ is a part of my life, and a large one as well. I also identify as a Conservative, or Republican, or Freedom Fighter, or believer in personal, inalienable rights. Use whichever of those terms ruffles the most Liberals, frankly. Throughout this entire rough and bloody election, I have had many of my friends raise different banners. Some felt like Dr. Ben Carson was sent from the Father and was the only righteous choice for America. Others felt like Senator Ted Cruz spoke Truth and would stand up for Evangelicals everywhere. Still, many wanted Senator Marco Rubio because they believed he could win in Washington, and other believed in Dr. Rand Paul and his unwavering view of pure politics. Either way, my religious and Right wing friends fractured into factions quickly as candidates lined up as hopeful GOP nominees.
Then, slowly, these candidates started to be weeded out. Rubio didn’t win enough votes, Carson didn’t make it, and Kasich was close, but not close enough. Suddenly, it seemed like we all woke up one morning with Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee. Some fled to the safety of Libertarian lines; others indignantly declared that they would not be able to sleep at night knowing that they voted for an unrighteous or conniving man like Trump. I watched as my friends held home Bible studies talking about how in times of persecution and trouble, the Lord would draw near. I watched Facebook explode with Bible verses declaring the End of Days and the quick and easy steps to Repentance.
The few Trump supporters around me tried to angrily debate these others, and only succeeded in coming off as angry and ignorant.
Then came the anti-Hillary rhetoric. I participated in this. I could focus on Trump and feel sorry for my party, or I could get on the Hillary bashing train. Or so I believed. I believed that by bashing Hillary I could stay true to my belief systems. What I didn’t realize was that this fight wasn’t against my Christian beliefs at all; Christ wouldn’t be President either way.
Jesus isn’t running for President.
If you think about it, when was the last time you saw Jesus run for GOP nominee in any election? Has Heaven ever opened up so that God could run for political office? If anyone is familiar with the story of Christ, they will remember that He never took over the country from the Roman Empire while He was on Earth; He frankly declared that it wasn’t His goal. Why then have Christians been so concerned with putting Him in the White House?
Too many people, myself included, have put specific Presidents on pedestals. We look at Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, or Reagan and imagine them to be the most Godly, most righteous and influential men ever to walk the Earth. Religion News (http://religionnews.com/2015/02/16/u-s-presidents-religious/) ranks former Presidents on their religious merit. George Washington doesn’t even make the list! Former President Jimmy Carter was at the top, and most people will admit he was not a very influential President. We put so much weight on the Oval Office that we forget that it is simply another office. Each one of these men had issues; liars, adulterers, killers, slavers, celebrities, and even non-believers. We somehow think that by being President, it is a God-ordained role. Frankly, it’s not.
But what do we do this week then?
This week, we have to remember that the Presidency is a J-O-B. It is a position held for a maximum of eight years, and then it is over. Our President is not God ordained. He or she does not have supreme authority, no matter what our sitting President believes. Jesus is not going to be the White House President; He is not even running. Even our best Presidents were nowhere near that. Right now, we have Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. That’s it. We have to stop thinking that some miracle is going to change that.
We have two doors to walk through and maybe, just maybe, we have to vote with what we think BEST lines up with our values. That’s all we can do. Either way, it’s still one of these two. It breaks my heart to say it; I write all of this feeling anti-Christian. But as the President in these incredibly troubled times, you have to be able to speak to each and every American. Black, White, Christian, Muslim, Straight, or Gay, you have to have a President. It would have been much simpler to run when these polarizing demographics did not exist! I truly believe that. Yet, too many Conservatives still believe that a candidate cannot speak to these other groups; they must only be for Christians and anti-everything else. That’s not how America works; we have always preached the “Melting Pot” mentality, and we are still too afraid to face it apparently.
I want to be able to sleep at night. I want to know that I used my right to vote to the best of my ability. But perhaps I have been viewing this all wrong; maybe I expect too much out of the Presidency. Maybe I want it to be a bigger job than it is. I think it is time for all people to just breathe. Step back and stop assuming that we cannot have anyone who is not perfectly aligned with our values, whatever values we support. I plan to live my life in love, justice, and kindness; I know Hillary supports none of those traits. I think Trump is better than Hillary in every situation; He just isn’t Jesus and for that, I am so happy. Better to have a President who just doesn’t follow the line than one who rejects it all together.
This week, support whichever of these two candidates best lines up with your values, and then leave it at that. Don’t expect too much from either, and strive to do the best in your community that you can. We are America. Our government is for the People, and by the People; if we aren’t the People, then who is? Because Trump and Hillary are simply just individual persons; they will not control We the People.
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