This post will be a place of kindness. Of safety. Of respect.
I value your differences because I know your Creator. He is purposeful. Your heart beats faster at images and words the exact way it was meant to. Your eyes well up at news, songs, tragedies, and celebrations the very way they were intended to. Your righteous anger on behalf of this marginalized group or that one is of vast importance. You were fearfully and wonderfully made to do so. Why would I ever want to silence you. Or at the very least, turn my head and ignore you.
My purpose in writing this is to give you an ounce of peace. That is my heart. If you read this and feel the tug of becoming offended, keep reading. Please.
In order to give you context, I need you to know: I did not vote for Trump.
I also need you to know why:
I did not vote for Trump because he has never been an elected official of any kind.
I did not vote for Trump because he has no policy track record that could corroborate what he says he will do with what he will actually do. (This should actually give Hillary voters some relief)
I did not vote for Trump because he is lacking such integrity that I find myself struggling to refer to him as Mr. Trump, much less President Trump.
I did not vote for Trump because I knew I could never justify endorsing him to any of my loved ones.
I did not vote for Trump because at the end of the day I didn’t want to place him in the most powerful position in the world as simply a strategic decision to get Republican seats on the Supreme Court.
I did not vote for Hillary either.
My list for her is shorter but just as important:
I did not vote for Hillary because I don’t trust her.
I did not vote for Hillary because I believe in a smaller federal government.
I did not vote for Hillary because my heart is specifically fashioned to fight for the unborn child inside of a woman that does not desire to carry it to term. (Please note that I am talking about the 90% of abortions that occur in the first trimester and happen due to “concern for or responsibility to other individuals; the inability to afford a child; and the belief that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents.”)
Most people reading this already know, I voted third party.
Honestly, I wanted neither candidate to win the 270 electorates needed to be the president-elect and instead for the House to appoint Johnson as President. However pie in the sky, Harry Potter magic, unicorn spotting, big-foot capturing ridiculous dream that sounds like, it really was mine.
I voted for Gary Johnson because you can teach foreign policy to someone. Humility, integrity, honesty, tact, respect, valuing equality, treating others as you would want to be treated, the ability to apologize…these qualities are intertwined in every decision a person makes. There is no crash course in that.
But like you, I have dear people in my life who voted for Trump. And who voted for Hillary.
The only thing I could think to do after receiving news of the election results was check on everyone. How were they feeling?
So, I called my sister in law who voted for Hillary. And asked how she was doing.
“Not good”, she said. “I am sad for our country. I am embarrassed about what the world must think of Americans, if we are capable of electing this man. I am scared about what he is going to do.”
Understandable. No argument here. Some people would have answered with “…but Hillary…”. But, friends, that isn’t the point. My sister, one of the most important people in my life, is sad and embarrassed and scared. That is the point.
A very smart woman recently wrote, “People are very, very afraid. This is not the time for shaming one another’s fears. Actually, there is no time at all for shaming one another’s fears. There is, however, a time to testify to the fact that love casts out fear.
This is the time that we run, do not walk, but RUN toward the hurting, the marginalized, and those who believe that the church is the last place that they would be received with love.
We are meant to be the compassionate ones, fellow Christians. May we lament that image bearers of God are terrified, weeping, wondering if they need to leave the country, and may we move toward them like we never have before.” – Abby Perry
Like a good sister that she is, she turned the question back towards me and asked how I was doing.
“A little of the same as you. It was weird to see the electoral college number rising for a Republican but not feel excitement. However, I am not going to lie to you. I am a hairline fracture more okay with Trump being President than Hillary.”
Grieving pause. Palpable tension. Feelings being felt. Guts being checked.
And then out of complete respect and love, Erin continued the conversation. She didn’t end it. She didn’t say, “I can’t talk to you about this.” She didn’t ignore me. She responded.
“That is hard for me. That is really hard for me to believe. After every thing he has said about women and minorities and the LGBT community. How can you be ‘okay’ with someone who doesn’t desire equality and wants to oppress people?”
THIS. I knew the implication if I voted for him. This is why I didn’t vote for him. I felt I had to remind her of that. But still, my admission of the teeny hair line fracture of “okay-ness” was enough to be considered a “Trump Supporter”.
At that confession, assumptions were almost automatically made. I now aligned myself with someone who wants to punish people who think different than them. I now wanted to track all Muslims coming into the United States. I now thought women should be treated less than and that sexual assault was acceptable. Calling a deaf woman “retarded” was now reasonable to me. Assassinating innocent people related to terrorists was now admissible. Deporting US citizens because of their illegal immigrant parents was encouraged. Shutting down mosques was now justifiable.
I could go on…
Obviously, that is not the case. All of those things are insane. But why in the world was I more (even if so so so tiny) “okay” with the results of this election?
After making sure Erin knew I could not and would not defend ANY part of Donald J. Trump, I answered her question.
Thirty years ago, my birth mom got pregnant outside of a committed married relationship. She was young, without stability, without money, and decided that it was not the right situation to bring a baby into. She had two options. Every woman in this situation has two options: abortion or adoption.
She chose adoption.
If an abortion was cheaper, less dangerous, more socially acceptable, labeled as a “women’s health” issue, or any other way easier for her, who knows?
I could not be here.
The group that I have to fight for is the unborn child. Because that could have been me. As we all know, an abortion is protected under Roe v Wade because the “constitutional right to privacy ‘is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.’ I will never be able to support it, but I understand why the Supreme Court did it. It is a slippery slope when we start telling other people what to do with their bodies.
But here is the thing…if my mom did that with her body, I would not be here. I would not BE HERE. Help me explain that to my children.
Erin gets that. She always has. She has cried more tears over this reality than I have. Really though.
But I understand her assumptions. I am guilty of the same. I also have had to be careful not to take it personal knowing she was voting for Hillary. I have had to remind myself that she does care about the lives that I care about. Every vote for Hillary is not a vote to kill innocent lives. It should NOT be taken personally by me.
Because it’s not personal.
After I explained my heart, it immediately clicked. She said, “That is your oppressed group that you must speak up for. That’s your priority as a voter. To protect the rights of the unborn person. And although I also value the life of the unborn, my priority as a voter is to protect the rights of the born.”
She then said, almost as if she was speaking to herself, “Of course, you don’t support abuse of people, of course you love people of all nations, color, and abilities, and want them to have rights and equality.”
We are way too likely to assume the worst in each other based on who we voted for. Or who we by even the very narrowest of margins “support”. Because we aren’t asking the question, “Why did you vote that way?” We are not doing the hard work by leaning into conversations and letting them play out patiently. We are ending them too early.
We demand fairness, but are unwilling to be fair. We want respect and tolerance, but are unwilling to tolerate. We want love over hate, but when love gets hard and painful and sometimes confusing, we choose hate. Love should have no conditions.
If you know someone who is scared of our nation’s future, lean into that conversation. Don’t talk about what life would have been like if Hillary was chosen. That’s not the point. Tell them you understand. That no matter what, you’ll be there to speak up for them.
Don’t depend on Donald Trump to unify this country. Republican or Democrat, it starts with you.