Now is the Time to Engage and to Pray

Unlike most normal human beings, I eschewed the excitement of hitting "refresh" on election results and listening to the talking heads into the wee hours of the night, and instead went to bed at my usual (early) hour.  Over and after dinner, family members discussed
what we thought would happen, with my original prediction of Hillary winning 300+ electoral votes adjusted slightly downward to reflect early tightness in key swing states.

I awoke to the stunning news that most of the rest of my friends had received bit by bit over the course of a historic night.  Donald Trump will be President of the United States.  Credit the "Bradley effect" for skewing polls, in that more people told pollsters they weren't voting for Trump but in the privacy of the polling booth pulled his lever.  And/or point to Clinton's under-performance in Midwestern states teeming with working class voters hard hit by the negative consequences of free trade.

Whatever the reason, the result is surprising, and for many of my friends profoundly troubling, as indicated by the somber, furious, and frightened tone of their social media posts.  On a macro level, financial markets, which abhor surprises, especially in the wrong direction, also told a story of panic and volatility.

As a parent, I often process matters from the perspective of "how will I explain this to my kids."  That can over-simplify things, but more often than not simple is right.  My daughter in particular has threatened to move to Canada if Trump wins, and asked me to promise her that when she saw me this morning that I know what had happened and told her right away.

To be sure, it is discouraging to think that the first election she was really able to follow involved a qualified female candidate losing to an unstable, sexist, fear-mongering candidate.  And we have spoken about all of that: issues, character, and who supports who and why.

But we've also talked about our nation's political process, and how it yields a winner, and how even with two historically despised candidates whoever wins will have won fair and square and will have a mandate to lead the whole country.  And we've talked about how our form of government has checks and balances, such that the president is not a dictator and that ultimately he or she is held accountable by we the people.

Most of all we've talked about the fact that God is still God no matter who is the leader of the free world.  It is possible that the election of Donald Trump will augur a very bad moment for the US, in terms of how we treat immigrants and racial minorities, how we are perceived by the rest of the world, and what our chances are of nuclear Armageddon.  We may feel we know the future and do not like it and are helpless to change it, and that can engender somberness and fury and fright.

But, on a human level, now is the time to engage and not withdraw.  And, on a spiritual level, now is the time to pray and not give up.  We trust not in kings but in One who holds the hearts of kinds in His hand.  Here's hoping I can convey that to my daughter and live it out myself.

PS I cannot sign off without first saying a word about Hillary Clinton.  First in 2008 and now in 2016, she was the presumptive favorite and ended up not winning.  There is a lot about her that a lot of people dislike.  I am not sure how the history books will treat her.  But, having voted for her, I can she is someone I would have been proud to have as my president.  However you feel about her positions, her character, or how she ran her campaign, you can't doubt that she brought a long resume and significant leadership ability into the race.  She departs not having won the prize she sought, but she should still be considered a winner by posterity.
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