This essay was also released as an episode of Exvangelical. Link below.
There’s a lot to unpack about what we just went through, but I want to reflect on what we just saw unfold here in the United States over the past week, which is quite remarkable. We saw the country elect Joe Biden as 46th president against incredible odds, including achieving the greatest voter turnout in modern history in the midst of an uncontrolled pandemic. Credit is due to the Black women and stellar organizers who worked unrelentingly to register voters in battleground states such as Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, and to ensure voter turnout through early voting, mail-in voting, and Election Day voting. Stacey Abrams and the Fair Fight organization are the best known organizers and deserve all the credit they have received & more, and I am certain that we will learn the names and stories of other organizers as the ensuing weeks unfold.
Along with the election of Joe Biden, voters have elected Kamala Harris. She is the first woman, the first Black person, and first South Asian American person to be elected to the office of Vice President, and as she said on Saturday, she will not be the last. I am thankful that Vice President Harris can serve as an example and representation to so many women and girls.
It was reassuring to listen to the victory speeches of President-elect Joe Biden and VicePresident-elect Kamala Harris. It was comforting, as a citizen, to hear him speak well and seek to move our country forward together.
But for all this light, shadows loom. The unchecked pandemic runs rampant, and loss of life, livelihood, and normalcy continues apace. Despite clear evidence of Trump's myriad corruptions and failures over the past four years, including his callous response this spring and summer to protests calling for racial justice, 70 million people still cast a vote for them. Such a vote is an endorsement of the same policies and leadership that ripped children from families seeking asylum at the border, that pulled us out of the Paris Climate accord, that instituted a Muslim ban, that said there were 'very good people on both sides' of the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally (one of those sides was populated by white supremacists and neo-Nazis), that accepted the word of Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence agencies, that sought to enlist a foreign power in digging up blackmail on their political opponent (and was impeached for it), that enriched himself and his own family, that pays so little in taxes and is personally liable for nearly $1B in debt, that encourages police violence, and has utterly failed to contain the pandemic.
White evangelicalism of course rallied to support Trump. It's estimated that between 76 and 81% of white evangelicals supported Trump in 2020. While this was expected, given the steady support that churches and individuals from my faith of origin provided to Trump since 2016, it was still heartbreaking. It is heartbreaking to know that white evangelicalism and Christian nationalism play such a defining role in holding back progress, but it's wholly something else to see it played out in the millions. It activates the latent grief that is a constant companion for people who have tried to reform white evangelicalism, and it spikes during national election years, when evangelicalism makes its true values known. It shows to everyone that it does not want to be reformed.
Other shadows loom, and they are entrenched in white evangelicalism. Racism. Sexism. Authoritarianism. But we know now, better than ever, what we face.
We also face divided information ecosystems, and a GOP desperate to hold onto power. I am writing this script on Sunday, November 8th, and President Trump has not conceded. Lindsey Graham is sowing the Trump's misinformation campaign that the election is somehow invalid on TV. Eric Metaxas is directly rallying to this cause.
Team Trump (Text VOTE to 88022) @TeamTrump.@mschlapp on a whistleblower who says he saw suspicious activity at a voting center in #Nevada https://t.co/MhK8G2B4sY
The hypocrisy of these "court evangelicals" is apparent. It's Google-able.
David Brody @DavidBrodyCBN.@JoeBiden was just declared president-elect by the media. That doesn’t mean anything. It’s not about who is pronounced president-elect in November. It’s about who gets sworn in come January. The next stage is the legal fight ahead. Clearly not over. @realDonaldTrump
There is so much work to be done from here. Conversations that must be had. Norms of racism, sexism, homophobia and Christian supremacy that need to be challenged. Misinformation streams to study and disrupt. More than can fit into a single short post. But I feel more optimistic now, 6 days since the first Election Night of 2020, than I did 6 days after the election of Donald Trump. The podcast I recorded then, which is still in the feed, has a much different tenor.
The GOP has revealed who they are, and so have the Christian nationalists who empower them through their votes and their dollars. But the last four years have revealed much more. It has revealed who we are, too, and it has revealed our capacity to grow, to become stronger, to resist and challenge the powers & principalities that hope to restrain the efforts to build a more equitable society. But we know the work and can see it more clearly now.
Like many progressives, I'm also a little dismayed that Biden's rhetoric sometimes seems a little too olive-branchy given how horrendous the right has been under Trump & I hope they keep them accountable, including bring charges. Conservatives have to demonstrate quite a lot of contrition before they can be considered meaningful partners in governance.
However, I am somewhat glad to have a leader who pushes us to be more compassionate. Match that compassion with responsibility, accountability, and consequences - especially for the sake of those who have been marginalized & harmed by this administration.
Now is our time to get to work.
Ok everyone. Talk soon.