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Post-election: The Conscience of America Speaks Out

 

… and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice,

and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

                                                                                                            Micah 6:8

 

In everything do to others as you would have them do to you.

                                                                                     Matthew 7:12

 
Now that people have voted in the midterm elections (Note: Georgia votes again on  December 6th in a runoff for the senate), for the defenders of the Constitution and our democracy, a welcomed sense of reassurance is settling in over the land.  To be sure, we needed to be reassured.  We’ve been living through one of the darkest and most ugly periods of the last fifty years. 

In a recent article for ProgressiveChristianity.org, I referenced a YouGov-Economist poll of self-identified “strong Republicans” where 54% thought “a civil war was at least somewhat likely in the next decade.”  My guess is, if another poll were taken now–post election–this percentage would  be notably lower.  Putting it mildly, the elections were a good day for democracy. 

Takeaways from the midterms voting

In these post-election days, there have been no reports of the violence many had forecast.  Certainly, this is most encouraging.  There is no place for violence in a civil society.  Projections of violence and actual violence, like the hammer attack on Speaker Pelosi’s husband, Paul, cannot be tolerated.  Still, moving forward, the fact there was no violence bodes well for the future.   

Another takeaway is that virtually every election-denier who lost conceded to his/her opponent in a civil manner.  We cannot have a democracy if candidates who lose elections refuse to acknowledge their defeat and agree, peacefully, to move on. 

Think of the incalculable pain and astronomical cost of former President Trump’s refusal to concede his 2020 loss to President elect Joe Biden.  If he had conceded (as all previous presidential losers have done), there would have been no BIG LIE; and, therefore, there would have been no insurrection, along with the deaths and imprisonments that followed.  There would have been no January 6th Committee.  There would have been no second impeachment.  There would have been no cult of election deniers who fell in line with Trump’s false claims of fraud.  Furthermore, the polarization in our country would never have escalated to pre-election levels.

As it turns out–another takeaway–the midterms proved to be a referendum on Donald Trump in which he suffered a resounding defeat.  Simply put, people have had enough: enough lies, enough fake news, enough misinformation, enough conspiracy theories, enough election denying, enough threats of violence.  The massive voter turnout signals that people want to move away from the crazy.  People are tired of election workers (a dedicated group of fellow American citizens) being threatened at polling sites.  Unmistakably, people have said this is not who we want to be as Americans.  In a word, the consequences of Trump’s malignant narcissism and the evil it spawns have worn people out. 

So, what does this all mean?  How did it happen?  Why did  people vote the way they did?  How do we explain this denouement in our national politics?

The conscience of America speaks out

Just as Abraham Lincoln, our greatest President, believed in the capacity of conscience to help shape events, it was precisely this capacity of conscience that appears to have informed our voting behaviors during this election.  At the end of the day, we’re human beings, not robots.  We think, we feel, we care, we hurt, we love.  We want the best for ourselves and our families.  And at our best, we want the best for our neighbors as well.

Most Americans come from some religious tradition where “the better angels of our nature” speak loudly.   

And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and

to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.  (Micah 6:8)

In everything do to others as you would have them do to you.  (Matthew 7:12)

 

The words of the prophet Micah and of the Golden Rule sound out in our conscience and spirit.  These words move us to embrace these “better angels of our nature.”  We’re reminded that “doing justice” and “loving kindness” reflect our “better angels.” 

As people of conscience, we know when things aren’t right.  We know when our behaviors lift us to the spiritual high ground and when they do not.  In a metaphorical sense, when we entered the voting booths on November 8th, we listened to the impulses of our conscience.  We heeded the promptings of our “better angels.”  How we voted reflected a deepening sense of our identity as Americans and who we want to be as human beings.  And as Americans, as we filled out our ballots, we didn’t want to lose our democracy. 
 
The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Frantz is a retired United Church of Christ minister.  He had long term pastorates in San Diego County and in Miami Lakes, Florida.  His service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama in the late sixties spurred his commitment to social-justice ministries and to a spirit of ecumenism as a local church pastor.  He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Pacific School of Religion. He is the author of The Bible You Didn’t Know You Could Believe In and his just published book: The God You Didn’t Know You Could Believe In. Dr. Frantz and his wife, Yvette, are now retired and living in Florida.

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