They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
WHAT DO WE DO WHEN OUR CANDIDATE LOSES?
I recently had a discussion with a close friend that drifted into her dismay over the candidate who had won the most recent election. She was angry and in a state of disbelief that such a despicable candidate could win. Her main question was, “How could these people who voted not see his weakness.” From her perspective she was right. I pointed out that from other perspectives she might not understand why this person won. I suggested that she try to sort through why the other candidate won to discover their point of view.
What could she do? For this moment very little, except emotionally accept the result. But for the future, there is a lot. First, she had to accept the result as the voice of her nation. Accept what others had said. Perhaps the candidate was immoral with a poorly directed life compass. More importantly it is the understanding of why the voters chose a different candidate then hers. Perhaps they chose this candidate because they were angry they weren’t being listened to and desired a change at any cost. Perhaps they were tired of paying taxes and seeing a bloated government. Perhaps they felt their candidate was one that could resolve their fear of not being represented in the halls of our government.
Whatever the reason, it is not always about the candidate but about the strength of the voices that voted. Knowing why they voted the way they did is more important than the candidate that won. This is the voice of the people and the way our democracy has been set up. We live in a country that has the longest continuous democracy in the world, because we allow voices to be heard. It has survived when many others have faltered. It survives because the voices of the people have the right to choose who leads. Maybe in error the voices have spoken, but the system works.
We are left with two directions we can take, when our candidate loses. The first is to understand how we can help our voice be better heard the next time. Perhaps this includes helping the candidate of our choice. Perhaps this means helping with forums or marches to state our position more strongly. Perhaps it means changing individual minds about our position. Perhaps even being a candidate ourselves. This choice is one of civil change.
The second direction is one of despondency. One of civil discord. A direction we should not take. Letting our anger overrule our intellect. We see this when we hear about pipe bombs being delivered to those who disagree. We see this when people are forced out of a restaurant because of who they support. We see this with calls that encourage violence against opponents.
The second direction doesn’t work and will only lead to greater harm. We cannot put out a fire with gasoline! Jesus himself told those in the first century to respect the voices of the government. Jesus didn’t preach or ask for violence, but for peaceful demonstrations. Jesus would ask that we give to the emperor what was the emperor’s. But at the same time to give to God what is God’s. This last statement limits the power of the secular when we act on our disappointment through the ways of God.
There are many examples of civil protest that works. Certainly, that of Martin Luther King and the peaceful, but assertive demonstration that led to desegregation. Or perhaps we can look to the efforts at the turn of the 20th century to enable women the right to vote. They made progress in two obvious errors of society.
Discord that leaves our neighbor injured or left behind is not what Jesus would want. Jesus would want wrongs righted. He would want justice served. But not through civil discord. But through those positive steps we can take to change the world.
Perhaps our candidate lost and we feel unheard. The first step we should take is to change the future, by respecting our democracy and enacting the freedom our democracy gives us through our voice. A voice that sees what should be and acts to peacefully make our country better.
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman
- What did we hear about the direction of our country through the election results?
- What steps should we take to help get our voices heard in the next election?
- How can Jesus and prayer help our country?
Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter
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