1) Talk to a friend who did not vote the way you did. If you have no friends who voted differently, make some. Now! In a pluralistic society, you cannot afford to live in a self-imposed exile of ignorance. Most people have reasonable reasons (at least reasonable to them) for their behavior–in particular for whom they vote. Learn those reasons, and you will grow as a person and as a citizen. You may even change your mind on some matters. Take the risk to grow.
2) And while you are growing spiritually, grow intellectually. Learn more about the wonderful heritage of your democratic government and the Founding Fathers’ vision for the limitation of powers. (I do not apologize for urging you to use your excellent mind!) Our ancestors immigrated from societies where the King’s word was law (thus often conflating executive and legislative and even judicial powers). The United States was birthed out of the Protestant construction of the nation-state, which in turn was based on two tenets:
- legitimate government is the protector of the people first and foremost
- the right of national self-determination
These two principles arose from the Old Testament’s separation of powers, which preserved each person’s unique standing before God as a morally free and responsible agent. The court prophet Nathan, without recrimination, could rebuke the King for adultery because the King was morally accountable to God’s law, not free from it (see 2 Samuel 12). If you are eager to read how this biblical way of government arose in the context of Israel’s pagan neighbors, then please read Created Equal: How the Old Testament Broke from Ancient Political Thought, by Joshua Berman.
3) A few people are drawing parallels to Trump’s election and the Brexit referendum in Britain earlier this year. I think it is an apt and accurate parallel. So, reflection on one phenomenon will help you understand the other. As I see it, the West is in the thrall of an ideological battle between the ancient biblical vision of the nation-state versus varied pretentious imperial globalizations (whether they are state or economically inspired empires). The single best wide-angle analysis on this phenomenon is Yoram Hazony’s essay found here: bit.ly/mmnatl.
4) Once you have spoken to thoughtful people who disagree with you, as well as having done some serious reading and reflection, you will hopefully begin to realize how deep and resilient our constitutional democracy is. Obama did not destroy this heritage, nor will Trump. Let us pray that our new President-elect will return to the roots of our political legacy, as reflected in the literature cited above, and find inspiration and renewal for his presidency and for our country. If he does not do so, he will only generate another kind of backlash in four to eight years.
5) You will not be able to attend my Rector’s Forum this winter-spring when I will teach more about this ancient, biblically-inspired way of governing, but you can download my talks from the web. I am uneasy with calling the class Trump the Nations: Make America Jewish Again, so maybe you can help me find an appropriate title?