One year ago I wrote a post about casting an honest vote in the presidential election. A year later and all I see is a growing partisan divide. Obviously, we are going to have differences of opinion in a country which covers thousands of square miles and contains 300 million+ people. That is not the issue. The issue is that we seem to be intentionally isolating ourselves into sects rather than giving ground in an intellectual debate. And even more disturbing we are willing to sacrifice our moral principles to do it.
Over the past nine months I have seen two distinct camps (and little in the middle) one camp sanctifies President Trump by associating him with Christian leaders and praising his every move. The other camp villainizes him by associating him with hate groups and denouncing his every move. The problem is neither of these is an accurate picture and these competing portraits make real discussion over real problems impossible, or at least unlikely. Now, for the record I am no fan of President Trump (I voted for a write-in candidate); and, I take issue with some of his policies. Now that this disclaimer is out of the way let me suggest something and I will use a real-world example to do it.
Recently President Trump decided to end DACA (a policy which helped transition undocumented workers). This has been extremely controversial and perhaps rightly so, but we have gone about the discussion all wrong. In the White House press release on the decision the President claimed to be in favor of immigration reform and claimed that it was the job of Congress to make it happen. He claimed that DACA was in essence, a stop-gap measure until Congress acted and that his actions were meant (at least in part) to force their hand. Ok, how about those of us who criticize the President do a wild and ethical thing, BELIEVE HIM. Let’s trust him and then hold him to his word. Instead of marching in protests and calling him names about ending this program, we should hold him to his words and criticize him when he doesn’t use his speeches to push Congress on a plan forward. Should he fail to push for comprehensive immigration reform let fall with the charge of “Hypocrisy”. Those who support him recognize he has promised reform. If you agree join your voices to those who push for reform, don’t simply praise him for ridding us of an unlawful measure; ethically you must push for a lawful measure to take its place.
To both sides, (I include myself here) admit the fault in your stance, President Trump has made promises hold him to those. I routinely point out in conversation that what I criticize Mr. Trump most harshly because he has promised to help the global Christian community; and yet, he seems to disregard Christian advisors and repeatedly makes policy decisions which negatively impact global Christianity. He has made a stand, I am trying to hold him to it; I criticize his shortcomings and (will) praise his successes.
This is all wrapped up in Jesus’ saying in Matthew 7:5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.. Those of us who criticize let us make sure that our path of criticism is clear of obstructions. And those who defend make sure your pedestal for defense is solid. I would say I stand with the President’s idea that we need comprehensive immigration reform. Yes, make it easier to enter and become a citizen of the good old U. S. of A. it shouldn’t take two decades and $20,000. And if ending stop-gap programs like DACA is the only way to achieve this, ok. BUT, we best be sure that ending such programs is the best way, and we better put some pressure on law-makers to provide a solution and provide it quickly. (In case anyone is interested if the President is right and stopping DACA is the best way to get Congress to act, I would phase it out over time, giving them a hard deadline to institute a reform and I would pledge support from the White toward working out that plan of action).
Last year I said that an honest vote is one standing for something, some ethical principle, some moral vision. Today I echo that every time we support or criticize the government we make an ethical stance. The problem is that each side seems to be lining up against the other, throwing stones (in the form of verbal jabs), and not truly listening to the honest points being made. Let’s put away the false portraits of Mr. Trump, Congress, Government, the Democrats and Republicans and listen to those on the other side. We will not be great until we hold each other up to the highest possible values. The funny thing about holding someone up is that it first requires you to stoop, to stop reaching up and to let the other have a turn on top.