What might God say?
Many Americans are worried about the future after Donald Trump was elected president. There have been futile, sometimes boisterous, and large demonstrations against the election results. A few call his election illegitimate.
I wonder what insights and advice God, the supreme metaphysical spirit connecting all living things, might offer us for guidance.
She might begin by saying that, under the circumstances, things are always as they must be. There can’t be an uncaused accident. For instance, a car cannot go off the road, hit a tree, and kill the driver unless circumstances are perfect.
Various combinations of contributing factors are possible. The road may have been slippery. The driver may have lost control of the vehicle. But the tree had to be standing in exactly the right spot to be hit. Otherwise the outcome would be different.
Similarly, given our situation, Mr. Trump couldn’t have been elected without our founding fathers having included the electoral college in our governance structure.
Some consider the electoral college a flaw in our constitution that needs to be changed to accommodate the principle of one person one vote. Absent the college, Ms. Clinton would have won the presidency by nearly three million votes.
I believe the electoral college was a stroke of genius by our founding fathers. Members of congress are directly elected by popular vote to represent their constituents back home. The president has a national constituency and must consider the nation as a whole and everyone equally. In making decisions, setting policies, and signing or vetoing legislation, the president must be insulated from the possible effects on the popular vote in the previous or next election.
Another way of looking at the wisdom of having an electoral college is to consider how it protects against intersectional conflict and domination by concentrations of wealth and population. The 2016 electoral map starkly shows how, with the exception of four inland states and the west and north eastern coasts, Mr. Trump carried the rest of the country.
In other words, if the election were purely based on popular vote, the nose and tail, with its wealth and population, would be wagging the dog.
Perhaps the biggest, secondary benefit we stand to gain from the bizarre campaign and election will come from being forced to face the sad state of our democracy.
Our angst is both nonpartisan and bipartisan. We’re frustrated and angry with our gridlocked Congress focused on thwarting each others’ agendas rather than working together. During the entire Obama Administration, Congress lurched from crisis to crisis, often passing stop-gap funding measures only hours before looming government shutdowns.
Setting the tone early, Senator Mitch McConnell publicly vowed to do everything he could to make the Obama Presidency fail. His Republicans became the party of “no,” assuring instead that Congress failed to do its job.
One of his final acts was flagrantly flaunting the Constitution’s mandate to confirm Supreme Court nominees. He refused to hold a confirmation hearing, guaranteeing that the Supreme Court would be short handed for a year and a half.
Another source of our angst is President Trump. We’ve experienced his petulance and social and psychosexual immaturity. We know he’s had no public office, governance or international governmental relations experience. Except for observing his swagger and supreme self-confidence, we have no basis for trusting him.
I can easily accept God’s insight that, under the circumstances, our situation is exactly what it must be. She might offer another one: We’re stuck with each other. Or put a little differently, if our situation is going to be fixed, we’re going to have to do it ourselves.
That reminds me of the anti Viet Nam War slogan, “what if they gave a war and nobody came?” During the Obama Administration the Republicans in Congress gave a war and the Democrats showed up. The institution battled itself into a stalemate and we’re all suffering.
Perhaps under the current circumstances Congress may find a non-disgracing way of doing it’s business.
President Trump is an unknown quantity. Circumstances will force him to adapt to situations unlike any he’s ever faced. He won’t be able to hide because the world will be watching.
The rest of us will be adjusting as best we can to circumstances beyond our control.
God’s final advice might be to remind us that, along with being stuck together, we have all of the resources we’re ever going to have so we might as well get going and stay involved for everyone’s sake.