This cycle of election for federal offices, especially President, has proven to be nothing short of a disappointment. Not only do I believe that both parties have nominated what are in my opinion less than ideal candidates but the discourse among the candidates, the electorate and the media has been nothing short of embarrassing. The sophomoric jabs about the size of a candidates’s hands, their voice, and now even their illnesses – confirmed and alleged – have made me shake my head more than once. The media have sensationalized this election like – I will dare say – never seen before in the history of the United States to the point that I almost can’t stand to even watch the local news because I have grown so tired of the reality TV show that masquerades as an election campaign.
But I suppose that beats talking non-stop about what a football player does or does not do during the national anthem.
Just over the last few days, the two major party candidates themselves have engaged in some of the most ridiculous exchanges that I have ever heard two grown men and women participate in. As has been widely reported, Mr. Trump has made remarks about Mrs. Clinton’s health, suggesting that pneumonia somehow disqualifies her from office and also gives credence to the various conspiracy theories floating around the dark web about her having a seizure disorder or Parkinson’s disease. Perhaps Mr. Trump should brush up on his history, seeing as we have had a president who was diagnosed with polio and at least one who has vomited all over a foreign dignitary.
Likewise, Mrs. Clinton engaged in her own shenanigans when she made remarks generalizing supports of Mr. Trump as “deplorables” and generally bigoted. While I am certainly no Trump supporter (or a Clinton supporter for that matter), I do not condone name-calling on people we do not agree with and I especially will not condone name-calling in a presidential campaign. Mrs. Clinton was way out of line in making these remarks and has likely alienated many people because of her comments.
The electorate has been even nastier. As I can barely stand to watch the news, I also can barely stand to log in to my social media because I know I will have to endure post after post of idiotic memes, inappropriate remarks about the candidates and their supporters, and conspiracy theories that would make chem trails sound logical. I could probably wrote another 500 words or so just on these types of things.
If it seems that I’m frustrated, that’s because I am. I realize that my words may not sound “pastoral” but understand that I am writing this diatribe as a frustrated voter who happens to a pastor. I am tired of this idiocy that poses as political discourse in the United States. We are supposedly the greatest country in the world – and I don’t doubt that we are great – but we have a strange way of acting like it. We can and should do better.
Unfortunately, Christians have been some of the nastiest commentators. I find this very disturbing in light of the calling that all of us have as disciples of Jesus Christ. On Sunday (by the way, I will post my sermon tomorrow), I preached about how love for one’s neighbor should not have strings attached to it just as God’s love does not have strings. Likewise, we also must remember that our neighbor is every single person we come into contact with on the street or on Facebook. Read the gospels closely and you will not find one example where it is outright stated or even suggested that Jesus engaged in mean spirited name calling or condoning violence against those he disagreed with. Jesus instead instructed us that we are to love our neighbors, period, full stop.
People who consider themselves to be followers of The Way have no logical reason for engaging in the kinds of exchanges concerning the election that we seem to see and hear everywhere. It’s quite difficult for one to be salt and light when the salt has lost its bite and the light is dimmed by contempt for those who do not agree with them. Instead of engaging in name-calling and backbiting, Christians should be examples of patience and peaceful debate, not the childish antics that we have seen over the last year or so.
Likewise, Christians, can we please stop claiming that God has chosen a candidate or party for office? That’s not how He works. But that’s another blog for another day.