Lessons from the election
The election of 2020 is over.
Or is it?
Perhaps the most divisive election since Abraham Lincoln's win for the Presidency just before the Civil War, possibly the most divisive, it seems as if everyone has strong feelings about the outcome which are hardening as the days go on.
Setting aside the rancor, or perhaps because of the rancor, this is a good time to look at what we can learn from Decision 2020, what it tells us about ourselves and what it tells us about America's future.
First, the good news.
This was the highest number of votes cast in a Presidential election. Biden's vote total was the highest in our nation's history. The second highest was the total number of votes given to Trump.
Americans believe in the institution of democracy. The fact so many people thought it was important to vote shows the interest of Americans in our government and their belief what they do and say and feel matters.
Second, no matter what side a person is on the results this past election was not the result of voter fraud or tampering.
If there had been voter suppression or fraud, the Republican party would not have gained seats in the House of Representatives and would have immediately lost control of the Senate. Knowing a President with a divided legislative branch would face great difficulty getting his agenda passed would have meant that voter fraud should have resulted in a blue wave. But it didn't.
And that should be a lesson to the Democratic party. There are apparently no coattails anymore in American elections, at least not for them. Why, they should be asking themselves, didn't they have a better night than they did? What did they do, or didn't do, to allow the Republicans to gain ground?
To really understand this, think back to the tax cut Trump pushed through at the beginning of his Presidency. The cut for the wealthy and corporations was permanent but the cut for working and middle class individuals was temporary. If the Democrats wanted to show working and middle class voters they were serious about helping and protecting them Democrats would have done everything in their power to make the cut for the middle and working classes permanent as well. They should have pursued it as single-mindedly as the opponents of the Affordable Care Act have pursued abolishing it. But their silence on this issue was proof to many Americans they really do not care about them.
True, because of Republican control of the Senate they would probably not have been successful. But it would have given them an issue they could bring before the voters. "We are trying to ease the burden on you, but the Republicans don't want that to happen. They are more concerned about the wealthy and the corporations. They may have thrown you a bone with the temporary tax cut but they made sure the ones controlling them got theirs and more."
At the same time we need to ask why Trump was not more successful. He received a huge amount of votes but still came up short. Why?
It is possible the answer can be summed up in one word: Masks.
Many people, even those who liked his handling of the economy, had trouble with Trump's response to the Coronavirus. His inability to follow the recommendations of top health professionals made many voters, particularly older voters, nervous. Perhaps if he had championed wearing masks as a way to slow the transmission of the disease and help pave the way for us to get back to normal, both personally and economically, he could have eased those fears and gained more votes.
But it remains to be seen if we have learned the most important lesson of all from this election
Voters on all sides (not both, all) feel they have not been treated fairly, that they have been overlooked and taken for granted, that their needs and feelings have been ignored, or even worse, knowingly thrown aside. Their thought is, "I have to fight for my interests because if I don't they will be taken away from me and given to others who do not deserve them. If they win, I lose."
Interestingly enough, that was an idea floated in a book by well-known Christian author C.S. Lewis, "The Screwtape Letters." Only he didn't agree with it.
Lewis wrote that the very basis of Hell's philosophy was that one person's good was not another person's good. If one person got something it had to be taken from someone else. We are all in competition and any compromise means that one person has given up their good so another could profit. Their gain is my loss and vice versa.
In other words, there is a limit to what everyone can have and if you have it it means I don't.
The upshot of this is a world where everyone is against everyone else, where every person must scramble to get theirs by any means necessary because if you don't you will lose to someone else who is getting theirs. Life is a struggle against competing interests and you must gain by taking away from someone else. And if they get something, it means you don't have it.
Even those rules we say we are following can be put aside if they no longer serve our purpose. We demand others follow them but if we can bend them — or even break them — for our own good, we will do it. We are supposed to play by the rules, but it is more important to be first however you do it. Because, of course, that is they only way they can win over me — by breaking the rules.
The philosophy of America — and Christianity — is that reality is not a win-lose situation but a win-win situation. If everyone took care of each other, promoted the good of all rather than just his/her own there would be enough for all.
I know. How starry-eyed. How unrealistic. How socialist.
But when Jesus said loving our neighbors as ourselves that is what He meant. As Christians, we are to believe God has unlimited blessings for all. If we follow the first part of Jesus's teaching, which is to love God above all else.
The failure of man-made socialism is that it rests on the will and power of humans, who are fallen creatures. We are incapable of looking out for the interests of others because we are so concerned about getting ours. And when we do look out for others they, because they are also fallen, are usually unable to appreciate the sacrifice of others and simply take their benefactors as suckers. And too often those benefactors poison their gifts by looking down on the people they are helping and/or by demanding those people live as they feel is right.
America is a country built on compromise. Sometimes — as in the Civil War — we have to pay for those compromises. But by everyone — and that means everyone — working for the common good, America has been successful. If we look out only for our own interests or nurture the idea that we do not have to compromise because we have already given enough, America is done for.
Maybe your candidate did not win. But will it help anything to turn you back on things because you are angry about it? Or if you do everything possible to sabotage things so nothing works out just to make your point?
Too many see compromise as weakness. But true compromise is a realization that no one of us has all the answers. Only one Person did.
And He compromised by allowing Himself to die innocently on a Cross.
Where would we be if that hadn't happened?