When the 666th text from a political candidate dinged in on my phone, here’s how I replied. “I think I’ll vote for the person who sends me the least number of texts.”
STOP2quit would have been a more mature response.
I’m going to be brutally honest. It’s hard for me to be nice right before an election, not because I’m politically passionate about candidates and causes. You won’t find me plastering social media with propaganda and videos and if you do, presume I’ve been hacked. But this is my space, where I offer up what I have and you choose to read it—or not. And so I will tell you that I’m disillusioned by the political machine and their grimy mud fights. I resent the continental divide that has grown between family members, friends and neighbors over political players and their self-promoting interests.
Case in point, it’s going to be agonizingly hard for me to vote for the same candidates on my ballot as the dude down the street. Back in November 2020, he crudely painted a 4 x8 sheet of plywood and in gigantic letters wrote “Trump Won”, then screwed it into his deck fence for all the world to look and be amazed. Afterwards, he added spotlights so nobody would fail to see his important message even in the dark.
I get it. He’s frustrated. His candidate didn’t win and he considers it a breach of justice but DT is not the first presidential candidate in recent history to be declared “the loser” after a razor close and contested race. Remember the Bush-Gore election of 2000? Ultimately the results turned on a couple hundred votes in Florida that did or didn’t have faulty chads. Was he morally incensed about that as well and publicly grudging for two subsequent years or was he confident about the investigation, maybe even smug as he praised the integrity of our checks and balances because his party came out on top. Does his sign actually represent an amplified moral compass or is he the kind of dude who you’d never want to play a game with because he’s so mean if he doesn’t win.
Can you hear it? Obviously my neighbor triggers me. I’m not even done complaining yet….
Can you imagine what it might be like for his wife if he navigates his marriage like he does his political preferences? If he rams his opinions down her throat day after agonizing day. If he has to be right and requires that she agree that he is. That sounds both like a narcissist and a living hell. Actually, I don’t even know if he’s married, but if he is, my sincerest sympathy goes to his spouse.
Listen to me. I am not being nice. That single sign—well actually, it’s been a whole series of graffiti like billboards littering his yard the past 7 years- should not cause this level of hostility in my spirit but my neighbor and I are experiencing a Grand Canyon like fissure in our relationship and we don’t even know each other. A counselor could more fully unpack what lies behind my strong response and perhaps someday, I’ll process it with him—or her. Today, the Holy Spirit reminds me that my attitude doesn’t replicate God’s posture toward my neighbor.
So, I take a moment to box breathe like the Navy Seals do. To regulate my cortisol levels and lower my blood pressure. When I decompress, I can think with my rational brain rather than my emotional brain. And I tell myself, this is the truth.
My conviction was that Trump’s character and moral qualities deemed him unfit for the prestigious position of President of the United States. Other people thought differently. Neither of us are more or less virtuous than the other.
And this election is not actually about Trump. His rule and reign is in the history books.
His influence, however, does still dominate the party that I historically affiliate with and most of the current candidates have publicly amalgamated themselves to his endorsement. Even so, they are their own unique individuals and should be assessed on their particular records, platforms and character. This is a new year, a different election with separate candidates. Be a big girl, Hope, and vote your conscience, regardless of how the guy down the street votes.
After November 2016, I felt disillusioned. Got lazy. Maybe I was throwing my own little temper tantrum, less conspicuously than my neighbor. Anyway, I missed the 2018 mid term election and our state was voting on whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana. That’ll never pass, I thought. Who on God’s Pure Michigan green earth would think it’s a good idea to have mass cannabis usage permitable in the public square, if for no other reason than our communities would start perpetually smelling like a skunk. Turned out that more than 50% of voters did and now I am destined to tolerate mass nasal pollution for the foreseeable future and I have only myself to blame.
So I am taking that lesson from the school of hard knocks to heart this time, pulling up my big girl pants and researching the candidates and proposals in preparation to vote. Actually that mostly means my husband is doing the research and sharing his recommendations with editorial. My ballot won’t necessarily replicate his but he knows what matters to me and will comment on that with his recommendations, which I appreciate.
And this election is particularly epic with the overturning of Roe vs. Wade earlier this year and our state’s opportunity to shape new policies about life and death for the unborn going forward. So, this time around, I’m all in.
Some of you reading this blog are cringing right now. I get it. I feel the same way sometimes when I read what you post too. We don’t agree on everything politically. We might not agree on Trump, but here’s the bottom line.
Trump should not have the power to divide us as family, friends or neighbors. We should not ostracize each other from our affection or our mutual respect because of political differences of opinion.
So, I need to preach to myself first and say, “That neighbor of mine, he gets to express his political stance on his property however he chooses.” My job is to smile and wave when I drive by. And, better yet, I could start praying for him, but not the prayer of the pharisee, the one who says, “Thank you God that I’m not a Trump enthusiast like he is.” Rather, I need the tax collector’s prayer, the one where I cry out to Jesus, because I recognize the judgement in my heart with, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.”
More than any particular political outcome, humility is what I most need this election.