President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump last week to become the 46th president of the United States.
Even though the current president remains defiant, refusing to concede the election based on debunked claims of voter fraud, the stark reality is setting in that his presidency is coming to an end.
While Good Faith Media and our subsidiaries have spent a lot of time over the last four years critiquing Trump’s policies, the 2020 election revealed an even more troubling trend.
As votes were counted, 70 million of our fellow citizens – nearly half of those who cast ballots – assessed the last four years and concluded they wanted four more.
This reveals that Trumpism will remain as a political and theological ideology of conservative America. Zach Dawes Jr., GFM’s news and opinion editor, reported that Trump received wide support from white evangelical Christians.
While the Biden victory was celebrated by many across the country, the United States of America remains a deeply divided country. While Trump will eventually leave the White House, Trumpism remains an influential and significant force.
Therefore, I’m left to return to the questions I’ve posed over the last few weeks, “Who are we and who do we want to become?”
Jon Meacham wrote in his masterful book, The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels, “The war between the ideal and the real, between what’s right and what’s convenient, between the larger good and personal interest is the contest that unfolds in the soul of every American.”
The 2020 election revealed the American identity in its rawest and most honest form. We are a nation waging an ideological war with ourselves.
Since the inception of the U.S., the country has struggled between dominance and freedom, exclusion and inclusion, privilege and justice, and a temptation to do evil against the opportunity to lean into our better angels.
Many decried the travel ban on Muslims and the caging of refugee children at the border. Many have railed against blatant racism coming from the White House and its disregard of science during a pandemic.
However, we must confess something significant: The last four years revealed America’s dark past has not disappeared over time.
We are a country established on stolen lands and built with slave labor. We are a county that offered white males a privileged status while subjugating women to second-class citizens. We are a country that caged Japanese Americans while patting ourselves on the back for fighting foreign oppressors.
Put simply, we are a deeply flawed and great country simultaneously.
The evils of the last four years were not new to the American experiment but only a reminder of the darker portions of our national history with which we are still reckoning. The alarming message of MAGA (Make America Great Again), Trumpism’s mantra, rests in one word from the expression itself: again.
When the word “again” is used in this context, an immediate question arises, “For whom?”
Do we want to return to the days when native lands were stolen, Africans were enslaved, women could not vote, skilled laborers had no rights, the minimum wage did not exist, Japanese Americans were interned, Blacks were lynched, healthcare was denied for pre-existing conditions and LGBTQ people were denied human rights?
For whom does Trumpism want to make America great again?
While often tempted to give in to the evil parts of our nature, permitting the denial of liberty and justice for all, we are also offered opportunities when we can lean into hopeful possibilities. America remains a great paradox, truly great and truly flawed.
As great as the founders were, we also know they were deeply flawed. Many of the founders embraced freedom for themselves while denying it to others.
With that said, the founders believed in an eternal hope constantly improving over time. Under divine providence, humans could always strive to find their better angels and create a more just, peaceful and prosperous existence for all people. This is the true American dream.
Even with America’s flawed past, it is also filled with moments when our better angels shone brightly. Moments such as the emancipation of slaves and the defeat of fascism provide examples when America acted in truly great ways.
These moments – and many others like them – were not attempts to drift back into history but to move forward toward a future when more people can prosper from the American experiment.
With President Trump leaving office but Trumpism still before us, people of good faith need to refocus our strategies in order to convince 70 million fellow citizens that America is great when we lean into our better angels in an attempt to live out the Golden Rule, treating others as we would want to be treated.
The following are suggestions for combating Trumpism and working for a better tomorrow:
- Model our words and actions after Jesus of Nazareth.
There was no greater social revolutionary than the carpenter from Nazareth. Jesus offered honest and challenging words, asking listeners to see the world through God’s eyes and not just their own.
His actions were both compassionate and confrontational, demonstrating compassion for outliers and confrontation with the privileged. His ways should be our own.
- Do not disengage and stay in the arena.
After four years of hard and difficult battles against evil rhetoric and actions, it would be easy to disengage once the president and his ideas leave the office. That would be a mistake. Trumpism is here to stay.
People of good faith cannot shrink away but must continue to fight for freedom, inclusion and justice for all people. Silence is still our enemy, thus remain vigilant and vocal.
- Denounce tribalism while embracing diverse solidarity.
Trumpism, and other “isms” before it, thrives by convincing the general public to hate one another. As people of good faith, we must recognize the honest differences humans have regarding an array of issues. At the same time, we must never jeopardize personal conscience.
Therefore, we must maintain diverse solidarity centered on shared humanity where every person is created equal and endowed by their creator with unalienable rights. America is great when reason, respect and rights lead to a healthy and productive debate.
- Advocate for consistent justice and equality.
While a variety of issues can be argued from a number of perspectives, justice and equality for all must remain consistent. When justice and equality are compromised, then America falls to the temptations of injustice for some and inequality for all.
The foundational ideas that make America truly great are the notions that all humans are created equal and possess equal rights under the law. Justice can only be rendered when equality is observed and enacted.
- Let the younger generations lead.
I continue to be inspired by emerging generations. Their knowledge of issues and passion for advocacy inspire and challenge me.
In a recent analysis of young voters (18-29), a surge of expected voters increased from 45% in 2016 to 53% in 2020. In Georgia, where Biden’s lead is around 12,000 votes, an estimated 21% of the ballots cast were from younger voters, netting the president-elect 187,000 votes.
These numbers suggest younger voters overwhelmingly rejected Trumpism. To give the country the best chance for a hopeful tomorrow, we must not only listen to emerging generations but also let them lead.
- Remember, love is the most powerful tool in our arsenal.
The truth of Martin Luther King Jr.’s words cannot be overstated, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” King’s words echo those of Jesus who emphasized the most important part of faith is love. Without it, freedom and justice cannot prevail.
Jesus declared that loving God and neighbor were the two greatest commandments, for all that is good in the world streams from unrestrained love. As we remain vigilant in our struggle against Trumpism, we must also remember that love is our best defense against becoming what we oppose.
America remains at a crossroads with two paths staring back at us. The next steps we take are extremely important.
Do we want to return to the days when freedom and justice were not offered to all people? Or do we want to look forward, acknowledging our imperfections and working toward a more perfect union?
America is great when we right our wrongs, opening the doors of hope and opportunity. So, may we quickly denounce the worst parts of our nature in order to embrace our better angels, always striving to love more and hate less.
CEO of Good Faith Media.