This is an email I sent to the students in my ministry the morning following the 2016 presidential election:
I would like to say something to the despondent and the jubilant: the despondent should not be too despondent and the jubilant should not be too jubilant.
To The Despondent:
You just woke up and feel as though you woke up in a different country than the one you thought you lived in. You feel as though you don’t belong. I want to encourage you: this will pass. There are rarely permanent defeats in politics. You will get another try at the presidency in four years and at the legislative branch in two years. Remember when Obama rode into office? The Democrats had the House, the Senate, and the Executive Branch along with most state gubernatorial and legislative offices. The days of the Republican party seemed over, yet now the Republicans have usurped the Democrats in every one of those roles. Your turn will come again. Be patient.
A few practical pieces of advice for you in the meanwhile:
1) If you did not register to vote, do it now while you’re motivated. It will not take much time and is one of the few productive things you can actually do right now.
2) You may be tempted to blame the other side’s victory on the basest of motives. The other side is racist. The other side is misogynistic. The other side is driven by hate. Please hear this: they don’t think they are. “But they are – I know it!” Even if you are right that there are vile motives floating around inside their souls, you will not change their minds by pointing that out. Instead, you must understand your opponents in order to persuade them. If you are genuinely shocked that a large chunk of Americans are afraid of the Democratic party and what it would have done with four to eight more years of power, you need to read more widely. Add to your reading list authors such as Mollie Hemingway, Ross Douthat, Thomas Sowell, Matthew Lee Anderson, Russell Moore, Rod Dreher, and David French. If you use Twitter, follow each of them. If you don’t, pay attention to their writings. They pop up from time to time in the Friday emails I send out – begin deliberately reading the entries you think you’ll disagree with. Also, consider watching Fox News from time to time.
3) Pray. This is something you will have a chance to do at Chi Alpha tonight. #justsaying
To The Jubilant:
It’s a good feeling when your side wins. Enjoy the moment, but recognize how ephemeral it is. Whenever one party sweeps into power across multiple branches of government, corruption and infighting ensues. Your team is likely in for a rough time two years from now in the midterm elections and will face a serious challenge four years down the road.
A few practical pieces of advice for you:
1) Recognize that some of your friends are genuinely terrified right now. People who are made in God’s image – some of whom are your brothers and sisters in Christ – are in pain. Be empathetic. Even if you think that their emotions are overblown, acknowledge that their emotions are real.
2) Prepare for disappointment. Politicians rarely deliver what you hoped for. The Democrats didn’t deliver immigration reform when Obama was in office even though the Democrats held the House and the Senate. The Republicans will almost certainly get bogged down on issues that later prove to be inconsequential and as a result will let some of your highest priorities slip out of their grasp. Two years is not that long and Republican officials will refuse to believe that’s probably all the time they have.
Yesterday America elected a president for the next four years, but we know the King who reigns forever. So acknowledge the president, “but in your hearts revere Christ as Lord” (1 Peter 3:15a).
Remember Philippians 3:20: “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Elections matter, but eternity matters more. Keep perspective today and always.
God bless and I hope to see you at worship tonight. I’ll talk more about these things there and we will pray.