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When God Shouts

Mea culpa and discipleship in the face of an impending Trump presidency.
Nov. 15, 2016
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"To sin by silence, when we should protest, makes cowards out of men.”" – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Like many of you I woke up the morning after the election in a state of shock. For eight years we've been under the leadership of our first African-American president—a man of character, compassion, and vision, and a Nobel Laureate. Our First Lady has been the very embodiment of grace and dignity, and a graduate of Princeton (BA), and Harvard (Juris Doctor). Now, standing on those august shoulders We the People of the Unites States of America just gave leadership of the free world, and control of its largest thermonuclear arsenal to... a racist, misogynist, reality TV host... with a history of sexual assault, and the only POTUS candidate in our history to be openly endorsed by the KKK, a former head of the KGB, and the government of North Korea, the world's most brutally repressive Communist regime. And our new First Lady...? A former men's magazine nude model (I hear the Brit's are now referring to it as the "Ogle Office"). For days I've been asking myself how we got to this place.

How could a nation founded on Liberty and Justice for ALL disgrace itself like this...? And in the same week it celebrated Veteran's Day in honor of the men and women who DIED protecting those things?

Now I find myself looking in the mirror and asking, "Really? What exactly did we expect...?"

I'd like to have a nickel for every time I've heard pollsters and "progressives" (more on that label shortly) say they were "stunned" or "shocked" and frankly I'm tired of hearing it. Let's be honest... the only reason we were stunned was because we've been living in a BUBBLE of our own making... and more importantly, one that shut out nearly half our nation and left them in the cold, without a voice we were willing to listen to. For years we skipped happily along our yellow brick road singing sweet ballads of "progress." NAFTA opened trade doors, tech boomed, the Internet brought with it a brave new world, and "diversity" flourished. Economies grew as jobs moved overseas, foreign citizens flooded in to take urban jobs in new industries, etc. etc. etc. I'm not suggesting any of that was bad per se. We still have a long ways to go, but we've also come a long ways as well and much economic and social progress has been made. Now I don't have the slightest idea whether NAFTA and similar treaties were good ideas—I’m a physicist and tech guy by training, and in no position to speak to such matters. But given the latter I've clearly benefitted from the shifting landscape, as has my community and many others who've enjoyed the blessings of gentrified urban population centers.

But... while all this manna from heaven was bestowed on some of us, a growing sector of our society was being left behind. As corporations flourished in the new global economy, jobs at home evaporated... a "rust" belt grew... health care and college education became increasingly expensive and for many, out of reach... and before long entire regions and their communities crumbled. By some estimates our productivity (per GDP and other measures) doubled over the last 20+ years, but during the same period something like 80-90% of the total wealth we generated ended up in the hands of a few percent of us... and tens of millions of our fellow citizens watched helplessly as the sun set on their children’s future.

What did the rest of us do...? Basically, not a damn thing!

Yes, we made some token gestures—we gave them a few hundred bucks off taxes here and there, a little bailout money to one or two industries, and of course, our rambling op-ed. But it was little more than fun-pack trick-or-treat candy. We went right on electing leaders who preferred political food-fights and deadlock to working together. A leader with character and vision who actually SAW what was happening rose up in the Democratic Party and rallied behind him a clear majority of support (including many of them). What did we do...? We sat back and watched while the head of the Democratic National Committee, with an agenda of her own, saw to it that the party nomination went instead to a woman who was the poster child of 20+ years of status quo, and... [wait for it] ... the wife of the man who pushed through the very trade agreements that sent their jobs overseas.

Did we listen to them...? Did we hear their despair...? Did we even see their tears, much less walk beside them and do our best to dry them...? No. If we "listened" at all, it was only to reply to them from our ideological play-books. We never really had the slightest interest in understanding them. And let's not forget all the fun we had at their expense... they were a never-ending source of fodder for Facebook memes, and for Bill Maher and Comedy Central a gift that kept on giving. Even as our very legitimate concerns about Trump's character and behavior grew, our bubble thickened, until even nationwide pollsters stopped paying attention. They had become invisible.


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