It’s going to be quite a day.
My First Disclaimer
He wasn’t the person I expected or wanted to win the Republican primary.
And I certainly didn’t expect him to win the presidency.
Part of the reason is my life-long antipathy towards fads, celebrities, television personas, loud mouth talking heads, etc.
And he epitomized that kind of thing–and put it on steroids.
Which naturally made me ask, “How could that guy, of all people, have won the American presidency?”
My Second Disclaimer
Before I continue, let me say up front that I’m not a progressive but a values conservative, and loathe socialism and all its works.
I don’t share the Left’s dismay, have no sympathy for their vehement protests, and groan at the prospect of their beating their ideological drums for four years and their objecting to every single thing Donald Trump tweets for four years.
In fact, the last eight years have felt deeply oppressive and have been profoundly alienating to me and so many in my faith-group.
OK, all my cards are now on the table.
What I think is going on is all about shame and humiliation.
And the election of Donald Trump wasn’t so much about policy or reasoned positions, or even about moral principles or deep values.
It was about humiliating people and groups whom, rightly or wrongly, were perceived as piling on humiliation upon humiliation under Obama’s reign.
When you lump people together, and call them a “basket of deplorables”, that’s a kind of shaming, a kind of sneering disdain that evokes the deepest kind of anger possible–the anger of humiliated, wounded pride.
When you constantly tell people who disagree with you what to say, what to think, and what they can or can’t do, it feels degrading.
They’ll view you as sanctimonious busy-bodies who seem incapable of live and let live, as officious meddlers who can’t leave well enough alone.
What we therefore are left with is an accumulation of wounded racial pride in white hinterlands, of wounded class pride in rural and blue-collar areas, of wounded religious pride among evangelicals and others holding to historic, biblical moral absolutes.
As Bill Clinton so well put it, “We thought we were changing people’s minds, instead we were merely silencing their opinions.”
All About Payback
For the humiliated half of America, Donald Trump is payback–a chance to turn the tables and elect someone so repugnant to those shaming them that it would send their adversaries over the edge.
Whether it was the beltway elite, or the urban techies, or the free-trade off-sourcing big businesses, or the disdainful media, or the strident minority activists, or the purveyors of political correctness, or the pro-gay lobby–the goal of not merely victory, but humiliation, has been fully achieved.
In greatest irony, the louder and angrier the protests, the more satisfying this moment is for the previously humiliated groups.
As long as Donald Trump confounds, offends, and keeps up his diabolical genius way of poking these shamers in the eye, the more unholy glee is felt by the newly liberated.
And as long as the progressive left fails to understand these deep feelings, the more it will only reinforce them and, sadly and ironically, become dominated by its own sense of humiliation and wounded pride as well.
Perhaps, for me at least, the second most shocking thing is how Trump-like so many on the Left have now become: breaking precedents when it suited them, placing demeaning labels on those who disagree with them, etc.
A few years ago, someone noted that America has shifted away from a right-and-wrong based culture to a shame-based culture.
In our divided nation, we no longer want to see what’s right prevail, we want to humiliate the other side and rub their noses in it.
Questions We All Face
The questions that therefore face us all are these:
How do we heal and break this mutually-reinforcing cycle of humiliation and counter-humiliation?
How do we resolve this insatiable sense of outraged, wounded pride? in ourselves? in our group? in our ideological camp?
And, as Christians, how do we avoid getting sucked into and dominated by our own wounded religious pride (the flesh) instead of living under the sweet control of the Spirit?
How do we dis-associate our faith from a sense of wounded religious pride, a sense of wounded class and racial pride, so we can serve and reach even those who perceive us as wounding their own or their group’s pride?
How can we repair the relational damage our wounded pride has done, make amends, and regain a surprising hearing for the gospel?
Instead of gratifying our wounded pride through politics and repaying humiliation with humiliation, the Bible commands us to “put to death the deeds of the flesh” and to “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires”.
In other words, the biggest need right now is personal and group repentance–confessing our sins and humbling ourselves before God is the only way to break the cycle of humiliation between people and groups.
It is a choice to be profoundly vulnerable and bear the price of others’ sins through forgiveness, through turning the other cheek, through repaying evil with unexpected, undeserved good.
It is the narrow and difficult way that leads to life, as opposed to “there is a way that seems right to a man, but it’s way is the way of death.”
This response, and this response alone, is what we most need to keep ever on our minds not only on this Inauguration Day, but on every day to come.