Thursday, November 10, 2016

Standing with the Losers

The long, acrimonious U.S. presidential election is over—and with an inexplicable result. The man whose election was unexpected by most and unthinkable by many is now two months away from becoming the 45th POTUS.
Winners and losers
Who are the winners and losers of Tuesday’s shocking election? You know how the election turned out for the candidates, but who are the groups of persons who won and lost?
It seems quite clear that the main winners of the election (by how they voted) are white men, conservative Christians, and people with limited education. More than those of other demographic groups, they seem to be the victorious ones.
It also seems quite clear that the main losers of the election (by the voting results) are women, the poor, African-Americans, Hispanics, LGBT people—and probably the U.S. as a whole.
In his infamous statement regarding John McCain (in July 2015, here), the President-elect said, “I don’t like losers.”
It remains to be seen how the new President will treat, or mistreat, my list of losers. Perhaps it will not be as bad as many of us fear. Perhaps it will be a lot worse than those who voted for him think. Only time will tell.
Standing with the losers
Since my prior article was about voting for justice, I here state clearly that I am standing with the losers that I mentioned above and am committed to continuing work for greater justice for those in each group.
Perhaps it somewhat overstates my stance, but I agree with the following statement which I saw on Facebook early Wednesday morning: 

Speaking of Facebook and one group of losers, LGBT people, here are posts from two Facebook friends. One, a gay college student, wrote to his family members who voted for Trump: “I hope your racist bigotry toward Mexicans was worth risking my livelihood as a gay man. You frankly disgust me.”
Then there is this that Robert, a gay Hispanic man who attends the same church I do, posted on Facebook: “If you voted for Trump . . . delete me from Facebook. . . . . a vote for him is a vote for my destruction as a human being.”
I stand with these two friends—and with other losers in Tuesday’s election. I will continue to advocate social justice for them all, and I hope you will, too.
The arc bends toward justice
On Wednesday morning I read an excellent article on Vox.com: “America is not, it turns out, better than this.” At the beginning of that piece the writer tells about President Obama’s new (2010) Oval Office rug.
There are five quotations embedded in that rug. One is that of abolitionist Theodore Parker as paraphrased by MLKing, Jr.: “The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Toward Justice.”
In my book The Limits of Liberalism (see p. 106) I was a bit critical of Parker’s words as they tend(ed) to feed into the over-optimism of some forms of liberalism. Things are not inexorably getting better and better every day in every way.
As the writer or the Vox article acknowledges, sometimes there are “kinks in the arc.” Tuesday’s election was, I fear, a major kink, a sizable setback for justice in this country—and I may not live long enough to see all the negative effects of this election bent fully back to even present-day justice levels.

So, while I am greatly disappointed in the outcome of the election, my disappointment is not primarily that Ms. Clinton and the Democrats lost. My great sorrow is for the losers who will quite likely encounter increased injustice.

19 comments:

  1. Thank you for this article. Your reference to "kinks in the arc" reminds me of something Alvin Sykes said yesterday at the Vital Conversations group. He said it is our duty now to work at "turning poison into medicine."

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  2. Clif, thanks for reading and responding to my new blog article so quickly.

    Yes, I thought that was a remarkable, and very apt, statement that Alvin made yesterday.

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  3. As he often does, and as I always appreciate, Thinking Friend Eric Dollard shares these comments:

    "Thanks, Leroy, for your wise remarks.

    "I too am disappointed by the election results as the Republicans will now control both houses of Congress and the White House, although I am not so sure that the Republican members of Congress and Mr. Trump will get along very well.

    "As with the 2000 election, the Democratic nominee has won the popular vote, but lost in the electoral college, which should be eliminated. I have read that under the Constitution, each state can award its electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote; ten states (all blue) have already elected to do so.

    "But I am particularly dismayed that so many Americans voted for Mr. Trump, who will evidently try to reverse many of the gains made in recent years on the environment, immigration, and civil rights, so I too stand with those racial and religious minorities and gay individuals, whose dignity as human beings is now threatened."

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    1. Yes, Eric, the losers of the election were more than just people. I am afraid that the environment, for example, will be one of the greatest losers.

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  4. Fantastic article, Leroy! I particularly appreciate the reference to the Vox article. I will look it up and read it. I too have been inspired--and frustrated by the Parker/King quotation about the "moral arc of the universe." In many ways it is an observable statement: As history goes on, we see justice increasing. But we also see INjustice increasing, so the moral arc of the universe bends toward injustice too. Will justice eventually win out? As Christians (and other optimists), we say that it will, but we don't know for sure. We may as well act AS IF the universe's long moral arc did bend toward justice, so that our little acts of justice contribute (hopefully) to the larger arc. (And we all can get on that arc or ark or whatever!)

    But what acts are "little acts of justice"? Do not all of our acts contain within them both justice and injustice? Aren't we all both winners and losers, saints and sinners? Sure. I suppose that such a realization might lead one to inaction. (And sometimes we ought to "inact" instead of enact.) But it also can lead to action. I think of Luther: "Sin boldly, but rejoice and believe in Christ more boldly." Whatever I do--whether I sit in silence, write this response to Leroy's blog, or drive to school today--will contain within it both the seeds of justice and injustice. (The point is not unlike noting that there are "kinks of arc.") If I am conscious of that point, then perhaps I can more intentionally work toward justice, rather than anxiously respond to every whim and blog entry and Facebook posting.

    Somebody said something about seeking first God's reign. Was that Shakespeare, Alice Walker? I forget. I don't think that it was Donald Trump, though. His coming "reign," though, does encourage us to seek first God's reign. And its righteousness, its justice too. May it be so for us, winners and losers all.

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    1. Michael, these are such good and important comments you posted, they deserve to be read by far more people than are likely to see them here. Maybe we can talk about how to find a way for more people to read what you have written here

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  5. Apparently you are in company as Newsweek pulled a "Dewey" and published "Madame President" on its cover.

    I voted Trump although I am far from a Trump fan (17 of 18 on my matrix) - the lesser of two evils. I am personally aware of three blocks who voted for Trump. Those nasty evangelicals and Catholics who had there legitimate "Biblical" and faith reasons (so what is a "Christian"?) and have had their faith threatened; The union Democrats who went split ballot; The average middle-class family people and business owners who are being crucified by the unaffordable ACA. (There is one other small group, but for special reasons I cannot disclose their legitimate rationale.) Many of my personal acquaintances voted 3rd party to avoid voting for evil.

    There was a time of mourning and prayer last night at the church I attend. Although ethnically and economically very diverse, they love one another. Many rely on the ACA for affordable healthcare, but were also aware of the threat to their religious beliefs. We had one minute of "meeting" and the rest of the time was dedicated to traditional prayers. Very somber and healing.

    There is also the real threat of violence. I have already been cursed by fellow "Christians". The union guys have been threatened and have vowed to take up arms if violence comes. Some "pacifist Christian" acquaintances have also offered curses and violence (these are a minority of that group, but the threats and curses are real).

    We are in a divided land with both polarities feeling threatened. I do not see much of a Church where reconciliation can happen - it's the militant American way. There is no humility, or fear of God.

    Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner +.

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  6. Hi Leroy, Loved your post as usua! I cried tears of happiness when Obama was elected. I was proud to be from a country in which the right person was selected for the job regardless of race, creed or gender. I’m astonished that only 8 years later, we find ourselves in this situation.

    A very large portion of our population was deceived, and they will be the biggest losers., because they are the strongest believers. They truly believe that this government will make their lives better. Their lives won’t improve and they’ll be stuck without any social support systems. Their hopes for a better more just future will crumble on the sands of history on which this house of deceit is built.

    There’s an old curse that I’m told is Chinese in origin; “May you live in interesting times, and may you always get what you desire.”. The genie is going to be out of the bottle, and I’m not sure We The People really understand the wish we made, and will now have fulfilled.

    I found this article on FB.

    https://www.theatl
    antic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/donald-trump-has-broken-the-constitution/507146/

    The summary is that our system is broken and We The People are the only ones that can fix it.

    During the Civil Rights Movement many took a stand and suffered the consequences, including imprisonment and for some, death. As I contemplate what lies ahead I think the time has come again for the people to use peaceful civil disobedience to push for change. Our actions may put us in uncomfortable situations and result in personal discomfort. We need to stay active in the system to push for the change we need as a nation. Time will tell. In the meantime, it’s our duty to stay vigilant and hold our leaders accountable to the commitments they’ve made to We The People to uphold the constitution and the ideals on which our union is based.

    Craig Doeden-

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    1. Thank you for writing Craig. It is always good to hear from you, and I much appreciate the comments you posted here.

      What you wrote reminded me of the online article by Jim Wallis that I read yesterday. Here is the URL: https://sojo.net/articles/time-healing-and-resistance

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  7. I was happy to receive the following email (with posting permission) from Thinking Friend Glen Davis, a Canadian who used to be one of my closest friends in Japan.

    "Thank you, Leroy.

    "I would just add that the major loser in this election was, is and will be God’ creation, our earthly home. Trump’s disdain for environmental protection of the planet will, if it results in increased dependence on a fossil fuel based economy, lead to environmental destruction that threatens creation. So, the biggest losers will be our children and grandchildren who will be denied the basic human right of a healthy environment. That is, all of us will be big losers.

    "One other comment: I cannot fathom the support of evangelical Christians for Trump. What Bible are they reading? To vote for a man who has had 5 children by three different women, who uses women as his playthings, who has no concept of 'loving our neighbor as ourselves,' who boasts of not paying his fair share of taxes that benefit the common good, etc, etc, etc. Where are the Christian and family values that these 'Christians' talk so much about?

    "This is a time for biblical lament of the deepest kind. It is time for crying out to the God of justice, 'O Lord, how long?' And it is time to find a way to hang on to God’s promise, 'I will give you a future with hope,' even though it is impossible to see hope in the midst of this darkness."

    In sadness and hope,

    Glen

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Glen. It was so good to hear from you again.

      I fully agree with what you said about the likely threat to the environment in the years ahead. In case you don't see a brief comment I made earlier in this section, here is what I wrote to Thinking Friend Eric Dollard:

      "Yes, Eric, the losers of the election were more than just people. I am afraid that the environment, for example, will be one of the greatest losers."

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  8. After I posted a link to this blog article on Facebook this morning, Thinking Friend Mike Greer in Kentucky posted the following comments:

    "Well said. We must remember that Trump lost the popular vote in this crazy system. He will always be illegitimate and a loser in my eyes because of this and because of the hateful and obscene way he came to power. So much has been lost. The office of President has lost its relevance and will perhaps never regain a respectful regard by most. Power and greed have triumphed and civility and a sense of common decency has been lost.

    "I conclude that the USA will and has finally lost its soul in this election. I have lost my last sense of optimistic about any national redemption. Unity will be roundly spoken of but not achievable. Hope has been lost. The values of intelligence and education will be lost in this maelstrom as liberals and progressives will continue to be demonized and have their dignity, jobs, and freedom stolen from them.

    "The hope that women can aspire to the Presidency has perhaps forever been lost as has respect for women in general in this society. The environment will be continue to be raped for the almighty buck. Global warming will not be addressed in this critical and forever lost moment. Evangelicals lost their last shred of credibility and viability among the new generations. They have even managed to make Jesus a loser in so many minds.

    "My personal sense of loss will only be assuaged by the productive, concrete, and courageous unification for action by the majority that voted Democratic in this election. Perhaps the greatest losers are the masses of the world who are being crushed under the thumb of religious and political tyrants in every corner of this globe. The USA will be of no help and will likely only hasten their deaths.

    "2017 must be a year when we all sacrifice and be willing to lose something personally treasured in the struggle for human rights, survival, and personal freedom. Obstruction, civil disobedience, and public demonstrations will need to be supported and joined in by us all. We will need to lose our need to be comfortable and safe in this brave new world of Trumpistan.

    "My deepest sadness is over what we have stolen from my grandchildren and their generation. I have lost faith in the collective goodness and generosity of the citizens of this country.

    "How can that loss ever be restored?"

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    1. Mike, you expressed the sadness and hopelessness that many of us feel in a very graphic way. I appreciate you articulating those feelings so well.

      But I want to encourage you, and myself, to not give up. I hope you will see my fiend Ed Kail's comments posted on the blogsite just below your comments. You and Ed are not far from the same age and would agree on most things, I assume.

      I particularly like Ed's hopefulness in writing, "I am standing by, practicing poise until the 'arc of history' bends my way."

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  9. After moving through surprise to disappointment to dismay, I have chosen a stance of curiosity. If "the tree is known by its fruits", I am really curious to see how much of what Mr. Trump said he would do actually comes to pass, and how much of it was strategic campaign rhetoric or simply falsehood. What our "standing with losers" looks like will be shaped by his behavior going forward, so I am standing by, practicing poise until the "arc of history" bends my way.

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    1. Thanks so much, Ed, for your hopeful comments. I really like your last statement and have just commended it to a Thinking Friend about your age who lives in Kentucky.

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  10. Thinking Democrats went through a painful education during Obama's presidency, and that education is continuing. While he did many things we valued on civil rights, he also proved that Wall Street, even its "liberal" side, cannot be trusted to run the country. There were big rebellions in both parties this year, and Wall Street Hillary very nearly lost again in the primaries, even with the DNC pulling every trick in the book to stop Sanders. On the GOP side Trump was the face of a somewhat similar rebellion which has shocked the nation by winning both the nomination and the election And yes, like Al Gore, Clinton won the vote and lost the election in our banana republic, but why was it even that close? Why did a relic of slavery manage to trip her up? The answer is fly-over country. Rural and rust belt poverty rose up and smashed the Wall Street elites in both parties. Whether Sanders, burdened by his self-imposed "socialist" label, but unburdened by emails, Benghazi, and Bill Clinton could have done better is one of life's mysteries.

    Both parties are in danger of exploding at this point, and civil libertarians need to think carefully and clearly to minimize the damage and to start America towards a better future. I see too many people only seeing either the rights or the economics issues. This is difficult, because a lot of nonsense is floating about and leading many people astray, on everything from the false religion of the god "Invisible Hand" and its theology of austerity to global warming denial to over-emphasis on identity politics to fear of vaccinations. We need a commitment to critical thinking and science-based answers (guess what, abstinence-only education is a proven failure). We need to tell unemployed former coal miners more than that "something" needs to be done. Donald Trump did worse than Mitt Romney, but Hillary Clinton also did worse than Barack Obama. All Hillary proved was that Trump was not qualified to be President. A large part of the electorate consisted of people who both agreed that Trump was not qualified, and who also voted for him. Clinton rarely made the case of why they should vote for her. You cannot beat something with nothing.

    The Republicans control all branches of government, but they have to govern. When they try to govern, huge internal contradictions in their ideology will come into play. For instance, they want to repeal and replace Obamacare. Well, I would like to do that too, with a single payer system. What are the Republicans going to replace it with? Or will they try to brave it out with a simple repeal and head into the next election with the nation echoing with the horror stories and massive protests of tens of millions of people who thereby lost their health insurance? Can even our healthcare system even survive such an uproar? What if doctors and hospitals go increasingly bankrupt? If so, it probably will be the worst in the very fly-over country that elected Trump.

    A gaffe is popularly defined as when a politician accidentally says the truth. Obama's most famous gaffe probably was his statement "They cling to their guns and their religion." Well, even the people he was talking about agreed with him. We have been struggling with both subjects for a long time. The Second Amendment debate has been joined on all sides, but the religion question has been more one-sided. Fundamentalists have made many wild claims, most largely if not totally unsupported by their respective scriptures (try finding the word "abortion" in a concordance of the Bible). So, on this day when PC has been declared dead, let me suggest we should a subject which I think should be publicly joined, for it goes to the very roots of at least Christian fundamentalism.

    See Part 2.

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  11. Part 2

    Scholars looking at the history and structure of Mormonism have noted that the Book of Mormon fits far too neatly into Joseph Smith's times and thoughts, even into his local geography. What has been buried under heavy burden of Christian pious fraud is that scholars know a lot about the foundations of Christianity, and what has been found is so radical that it even undermines secular understandings as well. I suggest we start with the hypothesis that the duopoly of metaphysical god of very god versus the incredible shrinking illiterate peasant Jew is a failure all around. Saying this I threaten the standing of virtually every religion professor at both religious and secular colleges, so it may not get much traction. But the American people are tired of PC, so I say give them an honest discussion about what we know about what they value above all else.

    Cyrus, the king of the Medes and the Persians was the most famous Jewish messiah in Jewish scriptures. Do not take my word for it, take a look at Isaiah 45:1-8. Now, was there a gentile who had a similar relationship to Jews around the time of Jesus who might be the historical Jesus? Actually, there was. As Francesco Carotta argued at length in "Jesus was Caesar" (1999, translated 2005) and Gary Courtney argued more briefly in "Et tu, Judas? Then fall Jesus!" (1992) there was such a man. Luke 17:23-24 gives us a hint: "They will say to you, 'Look there!' or 'Look here!' Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day." There was such a man. Scott Reynolds Nelson writing in "A Nation of Deadbeats" (2012) illustrates how Jesus in the scriptures could be an echo of the historical Jesus, rather than a literal history by discussing the relationship between the thunder of Captain Ahab in "Moby-dick" with the lightning of President Andrew Jackson. Turns out the historic whale was the Bank of the United States, with which Jackson had a running battle. So who could have been a gentile Jewish messiah whose reputation was so great his mere identity would light up the sky until noonday bright? Whose story was so powerful it was ultimately wound up in the gospels with the life of Titus Flavius, as argued by Joseph Atwill in "Caesar's Messiah" (2011)?

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  12. Part 3

    His name is Julius Caesar. As Suetonius explains, it was the Jews who stayed the longest at Caesar's funeral, for they had volunteered and fought at his side by the thousands when he crossed the Rubicon and confronted the desecrator of the temple, Pompey the Great. Before he died, he had ruled Rome under an astounding methodology, known in the ancient world as the Clemency of Caesar. When that Clemency was translated in the Judaized story of the New Testament, the results gave birth to what became modern Christianity. Caesar was by family lore descended from the god of love, Venus, and was from the stump of the ancient Alban kings of Rome. He served from twenty years until his death as the Supreme Pontiff of Rome, and taught his successors a new fashion style by wearing the red shoes of the ancient Alban kings. However, when the crowd in Rome called him king, he laughed and said, "My name is not King, but Caesar." When he died, the very Romans who had praised him and dressed him and purple and gold suddenly pulled his finery and jointly stabbed him. (OK, Jesus was merely beaten at that point, but never says much afterwards.) On the third day, Marc Anthony famously came "to bury Caesar, not to praise him." However, the historical Holy Ghost was sent as comforter to his followers, and a plague to his attackers. To this day it is known as Great Caesar's Ghost. It was an unforgivable sin to have sinned against the Ghost. Well, that is the hypothesis in brief, and some books in which to learn more about it. I hope Trump's eradication of PC will be taken by some as an opportunity to join the hunt. Is fundamentalism about to see a great light, brighter than Copernicus and Darwin combined? By the way, Caesar was in modern parlance a Democrat. The plutocratic Optimates who killed him would be Republicans.

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