Yesterday, I was at a meeting at UW-Madison. While not mentioning President Trump, the administrator who was speaking mentioned in passing that the country has changed in the last year or so and that we are now living in a context that is politically divisive. A few things caught my attention.
First was the speakers casually assumption that everyone in the room agreed with his assessment that we are now living in politically divided times. Second, that the cause of our divisions is the election of Donald Trump as POTUS.
While I would agree with the speaker that we live in politically fractious times and that Trump’s election as POTUS figures in this, I don’t think that Trump election is the cause. Yes, President Trump is a divisive figure. So, however, is President Obama.
Trump divides by his manner. He can be impulsive, rude and vulgar. Obama is much more polished but he pursued policies that were antithetical not only the moral values of many Americans but were also an assault on religious liberty. His rhetoric on a range of social and economic issues matters could also be divisive.
Deep, and sometimes bitter, political divisions plagued us during the Bush and Clinton administrations as well. Neither side has a lock on either civic virtue or civic vice.To suggest otherwise is wrong morally and factually.
In any case, the speaker seemed to me to be secure in his assumption that everyone in the room shared his evaluation of our current political situation and its causes. While state employees have a right to their political views, I found it disheartening and worrisome that a member of the UW administration presumed that I agreed with him.
What brought this all to mind, is a video making the rounds. In it, Hillary Clinton explains to an audience in India why she lost the 2016 Presidential election.
The take away for Christians and others of good will is this. We need to be careful that we don’t presume people agree with us. And, if they disagree with us, we need to be careful that we don’t impute malicious motives for their disagreement.
…sensed her contempt and lack of concern for their predicament. It wasn’t hard. She had contempt during the campaign even when she was under pressure to act like she cared, and it’s no surprise that she has it when she’s free of that pressure. To express her contempt and lack of empathy now is simply to revel in the freedom of not having to appeal to the people for their votes.
Contempt for those who disagree with us is never a winning strategy.
If you look at the map of the United States, there is all that red in the middle where Trump won. I won in the coasts, I win, you know, Illinois, Minnesota, places like that. But what the map doesn’t show you is that I won the places that represent two thirds of America’s gross domestic product. So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward, and his whole campaign, “make America great again,” was looking backwards. You know you didn’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women getting jobs, you don’t want to see that Indian American succeeding more than you are. Whatever your problem is, I’m going to solve it.
Source: The Weekly Standard