Well, I waited until the Electoral College had voted, and they have, so here we are, unfortunately.
But before we get into what should have happened on November 8 or December 19, I want to tell you guys a story.
In 2013, I was working for a state psychological association and I maintained two Facebook accounts, one for my “work” (I put it in quotes because my job really didn’t require it, I just took it upon myself to have that account) and one personal. So on Inauguration Day I was checking my “work” account and noticed a member of the association, a psychologist, posting. And he was apparently getting drunk. He believed all the negative hype about Obamacare and was convinced that his practice would die as a result. And I felt so sorry for him, because I knew he’d been fed a line. How awful to believe the worst, especially when it isn’t true.
There isn’t an exact parallel with 2016, but some of the same principles apply. Are we jumping to conclusions by assuming that Trump will bring the Fourth Reich? Probably. Do we really think, as Glenn Beck asked Samantha Bee recently, that we will lose our freedom of speech under Trump? I hope not.
I’m not saying I’m happy with the results of the election. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a very wide margin (2.8 million votes as of this writing). It’s only our screwed-up Electoral College that is keeping her from the White House. (And I don’t think any of us really believe, as Donald Trump has tried to claim, that he really won the popular vote if you discount all the voter fraud.)
We the people did the right thing; we rejected the demagogue. But he is being thrust upon us anyway, and the progressive in me recoils at the thought. I hear (and partly share) the frustrations of those who demonstrate, who say “Not my president.”
However. Taking out our frustrations on Trump’s kids is beyond the pale. It shows a lack of class and a lack of understanding of where the (prematurely assigned) fault lies. Maybe he will ruin the country; we don’t know that because he hasn’t taken office yet. He’s already started to backpedal on some of his extreme claims (he’s not really going to build a wall at the southern border, for instance).
What about the topic of this blog? Is there a chance that church/state separation is in (greater) danger under Trump? Maybe, to the extent that Trump might feel that he owes his position to all the evangelicals who voted for him. We’ll have to be vigilant.
Other than that, I advise a wait-and-see attitude. Like it or not, our election system produced Donald Trump as the President-elect. If you want to protest the system, there are plenty of petitions circulating that are challenging the Electoral College or encouraging states to allocate their electoral votes according to popular vote. (I signed this one.)
And then give President-elect Trump a chance. He may surprise us. Am I being too hopeful? Perhaps. But I think hope is all we have left.