A recipe for recovering from a bruising election.

(iStock photo)(iStock photo)

The last year has been a difficult one indeed, particularly for those who are in any way concerned about political life in the United States. As I write this column, the election has not yet taken place, though we are close to Election Day and early voting is already underway in many parts of the country, including my home town of Chicago. I do not know what the results are, and, like many here and abroad, I find myself nervous about the outcome.

Even as recently as a year ago I could not have anticipated the events that have unfolded. Like most political veterans and media commentators, I was convinced that Donald J. Trump’s candidacy for the Republican nomination would inevitably be a short-lived publicity stunt. Also like most people, I never could have imagined that a major-party nominee for president of the United States would do or say the sorts of things that he has subsequently done and said, let alone the inappropriate and possibly criminal things he has discussed allegedly doing.

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Some readers may have concluded that I am playing a partisan role, talking down one candidate explicitly and thereby implicitly endorsing another. That is not my intention. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, is not a perfect candidate. However, at least at the time of this writing, she has not exhibited the racist, xenophobic, misogynist and otherwise appalling views that have become commonplace across the political aisle.

I don’t blame Mr. Trump exclusively for the divisions we have witnessed these last months. More troubling to me than his individual behavior has been the response of people who express feelings of disdain for immigrants, hostility toward women in power and persons of color, and hatred toward anybody and anything that does not conform to a narrowly defined concept of what is “legitimately American.” Less than two weeks before the general election, The New York Times reported that some Trump supporters are increasingly using the language of revolution to describe their anticipated reaction to the possible news that their candidate has not won. The language has been both violent and threatening.

So now I have begun thinking about Nov. 9 after many months focused on the day just before it. What will happen after the election? Can anything be done to repair the divisions that have been so sharply drawn? How might we stem the seemingly endless tide of fear and hatred and anger?

I believe that women and men of faith have resources and the responsibility to try to do something proactive, encouraging all people in these difficult times. One such resource is found in the writings of one of the most-popular saints in Christian history and the namesake of the current bishop of Rome: St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis believed that being a peacemaker and a reconciler was not something reserved just for a special few, but rather was part of what it meant to be truly human itself. In his famous “Canticle of the Creatures,” he highlighted how all aspects of creation give praise to God by virtue of what they were created to be: The sun shines, the earth provides vegetation and so on. When it comes to human beings, Francis believed that we give praise to God when we are reconcilers, peacemakers and lovers who endure the difficulties and disappointments of life with patience. Following St. Paul, who exhorted Christians to support one another, and Jesus Christ, who modeled love of enemies, St. Francis calls us to step away from the division, the hatred and the fear-based rhetoric that leads to violence. To think and engage in these ways is to be un-human and to not praise but actually stand against God.

Regardless of how the election turns out and despite the inevitable disappointment that will come for some, Christians must be exemplars of St. Francis’ insight by encouraging all women and men, regardless of their faith tradition, to become more human. This is a message we are all in need of hearing in the wake of such a startling and, frankly, dehumanizing election cycle. The only way forward is to have the courage to be what God actually created us to be: peacemakers, reconcilers and lovers.

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Tom Fields
2 years 1 month ago
Well, the election has come and gone---Trump won. He calls for reconciliation while Hillary blames the FBI and does little to discourage the riots--which some believe are primarily paid, professional, destructive trouble makers. You use some negative adjectives about Trump----most--deserved. You fail to point out that Hillary may be the most documented liar in public life---a failure in most of her endeavors and a total pro abortion---late term, organs sold--paid for by my taxes---and the Little Sisters of the Poor. Let's pray for Trump!
Lisa Weber
2 years 1 month ago
The conversation is no longer about Hillary Clinton. Bashing Hillary changes nothing about Donald Trump. I would like to hear a Trump supporter make a logical, factual argument about why he is outstanding enough to be our president.
Tom Maher
2 years ago
No. Trump won which by implication is no accident. But it would be futile for Trump supporters to explain to people who do not support Trump why Trump won. The reasons for Trump winning were always out there publicly and were extensively debated and widely known. It is now incumbent for non-Trump supporters to discover for themselves why what Trump stood for was so important in this election. Trump had a relevant policy message. Hillary did not. Hillary was a third term for the Obama stagnant economic policies. Trump was for decisive change of economic policy with a strong view to create jobs in the private sector. Trump had a very good read of the pulse of the nation which is why the "blue wall" collapsed by the loss of several blue states to Trump allowing Trump's victory. It was known before the election that the loss of only one blue state to Trump would prevent Hillary from getting a electoral college majority. Hillary actually lost four blue states -- Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Iowa in addition to most battleground states . In yet another election voters found Hillary to be uninspiring and oblivious to the concerns of large segments of voters. Hillary's campaign was ignored too many voting populations. And the Obama coalition did not show up to vote in the numbers needed for Hillary. And yes in comparison Trump for many was a better choice than Hillary. Hillary's constant mess of the unsecured email server showed her to be highly irresponsible handling of thousands of highly sensitive classified content of the emails. Hillary explanations of the email server and emails lacked all credibility and were shown to be false by the FBI director in Congressional testimony. And FBI director Comey said Hillary extremely carelessly handled classified information in her sensitive State Department emails which even now have only partially been accounted for. 33,000 emails have been deleted by Hillary despite a congressional subpoena for them. The destruction of the email is a pattern of evasion, concealment and cover up of the emails and is criminal non-compliance still to be acted on. Hillary lied repeatedly to the public about the emails and this badly harmed her credibility with the voting public . Many people would not vote for her because of her constant email problems with the FBI and numerous litigators which right up to the present are still unaccounted for. A complete definitive public record and accounting of what Hillary did during her four years at the State Department does not exist. Hillary still has the email server mess and missing emails to account for. Hillary shown to be unreliable and untrustworthy in protecting and handling sensitive national secrets throughout her four years as Secretary of State.
Lisa Weber
2 years ago
Most of your comments are about Hillary Clinton and not about Donald Trump. It's an oddity of Trump supporters that they do not talk about him or the good his proposed policies will produce. Get rid of the EPA - then we will have polluted air and water. Deport illegal aliens and build a wall - then we will have a lot of civil strife. It bothers me that people can look at Trump and fail to see that he is blatantly dishonest. We will see an unprecedented level of corruption while he is in office and I hope he is impeached before he serves a year. I expect that he will give us reason to impeach him.
Tom Maher
2 years ago
One would think by now that people would stop underestimating Donald Trump. Trump's political, media and establishment opponents including the formidable Bush and Clinton dynasties have almost universally and consistently forecasting Trump's non-viability and demise as a candidate since before he announce his candidacy on June 16, 2015. One would think by now they would reconsider. But instead even now people say as you do that Trump cannot succeed as President despite Trump's numerous successes in the primaries and election where despite all forecast handily won the Presidency. Trump the highly successful business executive correctly identified and took measured of the nation's numerous economic, political and social problems and developed solutions and initiatives to deal with these problems ignored by every other political establishment. Trump correctly saw the urgent need for change after eight years of the Obama policies. The 2016 election was a change election and only Trump provided timely solutions addressing the numerous problems the political and institutional establishments ignored such as the continued stagnant economy which is failing to create new jobs. The voters however realized a change was needed. And Trump had the solutions and initiatives to correct the nation's numerous problems left over from the Obama administration. Do not be surprised to find that Trump succeeds yet again as President.
Chuck Kotlarz
2 years ago
Hopefully, eight years from now, all Americans can say they are better off. Of concern is Trump’s proposed tax cut. The Great Recession lagged Bush’s 2003 tax cut by five years. Obama’s job creation clearly showed improvement over his predecessor’s record. http://politicsthatwork.com/graphs/job-creation-president
Andrew Di Liddo
2 years ago
Some may believe that the organic protests are by paid professionals. Some can believe almost any thing. Many believed there were weapons of mass destruction that were never found and probably never existed; at least not in the way the cartoon sketches Colin Powell presented to the U.N. purported such as biological fermentation units on railroad cars. Protestors have been interviewed on the streets in many cities and not one has been proven to be a paid professional. So, if there is one investigative journalist left in this country, let the journalists find these paid professionals and prove the President Elect's statement. If we Start believing these lies, then people will start believing bigger lies that result in thousands of people being killed. As Christians, we are called to respect life and by not perpetuating lies we may save lives of thousands of people.
Lisa Weber
2 years 1 month ago
I have yet to think of a way I might support the worst individual I have ever seen elected to the presidency of this country. I can support the country by thoughtful opposition to the hateful rhetoric. I can comment to my representatives on decisions I oppose. I can try to listen to those who support Trump and try to figure out what they see in him. Supporting the country is different than supporting an individual elected official. I can support the country but not him.
Anne Chapman
2 years ago
Good comment. Like many I am trying to figure out the best way to help our country. In order to do so, I will most likely be actively opposing most of the president-elect's policies, cabinet appointments, and initiatives. So far there is not one named specific initiative or appointee that I can support. If ever our country needs a lot of prayer it is now. But prayer alone is not enough to save us - our country needs active opposition to the next president's agenda,. Our country and its values, along with true christian values, are at stake. If this man does what he has said he will do, the America that was once great, the shining beacon on the hill, will be no more.
Andrew Di Liddo
2 years ago
The Question I ask myself, though I cannot support him, will I remember to pray for him? My peers in my parish chastised me for 8 years for not being able to pray for George W. Bush. To boot, I was probably actively hating as well. I do believe, now, that I may be able to pray for the President Elect even though I do not agree with him on anything. I do not hate him yet, it is hard to hate a clown that makes one laugh. Friends told me that is why they liked Reagan. He was funny. The bar is set very low for so many.
L J
2 years ago
Trump was repeatedly pressed by the MSM if he would accept the results of the election. He won bigly. Trump carried 30 states out of 50, the Dems lost State Governor Mansions and Legislatures and are more fractious than the Reps. Yet, Hillary supporters are acting viciously, hysterically and hatefully as the losers. In 2009: Barack Obama to GOP: "I won" http://www.politico.com/story/2009/01/obama-to-gop-i-won-017862 Now with Obama's party losing, Hillary's agitprops are burning America full speed ahead by pouring gasoline and throwing matches gleefully like the KKK. By their fruits you shall know them. But we always did.
Chuck Kotlarz
2 years ago
Voters sent the establishment a message. So far, so good. Unfortunately, a 2014 Princeton Study found that much of the American public has a statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” The study shows that the US is no longer a democracy. No longer a democracy? Voters appear to have been replaced by Washington DC’s 10,000 lobbyists who pay little, if any attention to the voter’s “message”. And who pays for Washington DC’s 10,000 lobbyists? It’s not the owners or employees of Riley Plumbing or ABC Lawn Care. Look at Trump’s proposed tax cut which would give taxpayers $6 trillion over ten years, half to the 99% and half to the 1%. What’s not obvious is that up to $1 trillion would go to the .0001% (150 of the richest US taxpayers). $1 trillion could easily pay for 10,000 lobbyists. The entire judicial and legislative branches of federal government only cost $9 billion. http://www.businessinsider.com/major-study-finds-that-the-us-is-an-oligarchy-2014-4
Douglas Fang
2 years ago
Actually, to my surprise, even though I did vote for Clinton, I strongly agree that we all own Trump a chance. If he succeeds, then it would be good for America. You can never satisfy everyone at the same time. For me, my biggest relief is that Trump seems to be very flexible. He is not ideological and to me, this is his biggest asset. Who knows? God always acts in mysterious ways. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/11/trump-flip-flops-president-elect-214478 I hope that I can keep him in my prayer.

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