I feel compelled to write one last time about the 2016 election before Election Day.
Steve Schmidt, Republican commentator and the man who ran John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008 recently said this: “Fascism did not rise in the ‘30s because it was strong, but because democracy was weak.” He was, of course, speaking of Donald Trump. This is no ordinary election: Obama vs. McCain or Romney, Bush vs. Gore. Donald Trump is like no other candidate who has run for the presidency in our lifetimes.
Over the weekend, I was comforted by the opportunity to go to church with my family. I prayed yesterday and I am praying today and tomorrow against racial and gender bigotry—which are core gospel issues. I am praying against Trump’s bigotry winning this election. As I understand the Bible, Trump’s campaign of bigotry attacks the very doctrine of creation―that God made us ALL in God’s image. And all the things Trump has said about Mexicans, African Americans, Muslims, women, and even the disabled also literally rebukes the doctrine of reconciliation in Christ—how all of us are brought together. I was thinking about all that yesterday in church.
My great hope and prayer in this election is that white Christians will be more Christian than white on Election Day and stand with their brothers and sisters of color. When I shared this hope on Twitter, several people of color made the point that white Christians voting more Christian than white has yet to happen in this country. And that’s sadly true.
Which leads me to this question. For the majority of white people in this country: Will any white man do? Will the majority of white voters support any white man with an R next to his name for the highest office in the land, no matter how antithetical to Christian and other moral values that man’s life, behavior, and statements might be? Let me be clear about the kind of person we are dealing with here―Donald Trump is a vile man and a despicable human being who has lived his life contrary to the moral values that most Christians say they espouse.
Will a majority of white Christians really support Donald Trump? How embarrassing for white Christians is that? And how painful and disgusting that must feel to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are African American, or Latino/a, or women who have been directly insulted and assaulted by Donald Trump. Will any white guy do? We will find out soon enough.
It is very likely that if Trump is defeated this week, it will be because people of color and perhaps half of white women stood up against his racial and gender bigotry. If only white people could vote, Donald Trump would win the election in a landslide—and if only white men voted he would probably carry all 50 states. Think about that for a moment—especially if you are a white person who opposes Donald Trump. And, even worse, it is unlikely that the majority of white Christian men will be voting any differently than the majority of other white men. Think about what utter hypocrisy that is: their Christian identity makes no challenge to their white identity. Deeply disheartening.
If Trump is defeated, it will be because people of color (including millions of Christians) saved all Americans from what a Trump presidency would mean for America. I find that morally astonishing and stunning. In fact, it will be poetic and justice if it turns out that Trump’s presidential ambitions were doomed to failure by his insults about Mexican immigrants on the very day he launched his campaign, and his promotion of racist birtherism against our nation’s first black President that marked his emergence as a political figure. How ironic that would be: if the racial bigotry that began his political career and defined the speech that launched his campaign were to undo his ultimate candidacy—from the start. What would that teach us about the new America in the making?
We have an enormous racial divide in America, including in the churches. Donald Trump has revealed that. And no matter who wins the election, we have an enormous amount of work to do. Lord have mercy. I’m not going to say God Bless America. But rather this: on this Election Day, may God have mercy on the United States of America.