President-elect Donald Trump offered positive statements after his victory.
“Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country,” he said. “I mean that very sincerely.”
Trump said, “Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, [we] have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”
“I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all of Americans, and this is so important to me,” he added. “For those who have chosen not to support me in the past … I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.”
No matter how we voted or how we feel about the results, Trump’s call to “bind the wounds of division” and “to come together as one united people” should be applauded and embraced.
Let’s take seriously his appeal for guidance and call for working together.
Let’s also take earnestly Secretary Clinton’s gracious words in her post-election remarks.
“Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead,” she said.
“Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power,” Clinton continued. “We don’t just respect that. We cherish it. It also enshrines the rule of law; the principle [that] we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them.”
Trump’s words on immigrants, women, Muslims, his political opponents and other groups were morally troubling. Folks on both sides of the political and religious aisle recognized this and spoke out.
These statements and actions should not be dismissed as irrelevant now that the campaign is over. Nor should we dismiss his positive statements following his victory.
The Hebrew prophets boldly critiqued injustice and immorality, while they pointed to a better, more righteous way with a genuine hope for individuals and nations to change for the better. Both sides must be held together.
We should not only condemn and critique sinful behavior, but we should also affirm and praise proper conduct.
This focus is as needed following the election as it was during the campaign.
On Tuesday afternoon, I expressed my hope that people of faith would help shift the national focus from a divisive election to consensus, common good initiatives.
In light of Trump’s much-needed shift to a more constructive, conciliatory tone, and Clinton’s gracious concession speech, what are some ways that we can re-unite in pursuit of the common good?
Here are three issues around which there is significant bipartisan consensus and collaboration already underway:
1. Criminal justice reform.
This issue has been one of the few “lights” amid the darkness of increased political partisanship and the resulting gridlock.
For the last three years, many governors from both parties have focused on criminal justice reform in their annual State of the State addresses.
Several bipartisan proposals are currently being considered by the U.S. Congress. Focal points include reduced mandatory minimums as well as increased mental health and substance abuse treatment options as alternatives to incarceration.
2. Predatory lending.
Payday lending involves short-term loans taken out by consumers to make ends meet. The loans have high-interest rates and loan terms that trap people in cycles of debt in which excessive fees and interest are paid.
As Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), explained, “At the heart of the business model for the average payday lender is rolling the customer into loan after loan after loan, so that eventually you’ve recovered more in fees than [the customer] borrowed in the first place.”
A free PDF download is available to help churches better understand and engage this issue, including resources from the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
3. Human trafficking (modern-day slavery).
More than 40 articles focused on human trafficking have appeared on EthicsDaily.com to help congregations better understand this global scourge, and a July 2014 series highlighted ways that global Baptists are working to end trafficking in persons.
These are three issues for which there has been broad support and bipartisan work. They can become rallying points for cooperative work following a divisive presidential election.
No matter your view of the election results, let’s affirm and capitalize on the call to “bind the wounds of division” by re-uniting and re-engaging these consensus, common good issues.