It simply doesn't matter which candidate gave the victory speech.
Fear won this election.
Fifty-five percent of Democrats say they are afraid of the Republican party, and 49% of Republicans feel the same way about the Democratic party (Pew Research).
What are we all afraid of? Are we afraid that the Republicans are going to bring back Jim Crow and make pregnant women stop working and carry us into a fascist dictatorship where all Blacks and Hispanics and LGBT folks will be forcibly rounded up into ghettos? Are we afraid that the Democrats are going to take all our money and guns away from us and make us commit suicide when we get old and sick and carry us into a communist revolution where we all have to wear the same ugly pajamas and go to work camps for questioning the party?
I think some people do fear these things. This morning, a liberal friend pointed out that this is the anniversary of Kristallnacht, and a conservative friend celebrated that she doesn't have to worry about the death squads today. So much fear.
About the same time as the Pew findings, Gallup reported that the numbers of Americans reporting to identify as Democrat or Republican are near historic lows: 29% identify as Democrats, 26% identify as Republican, and 42% identify as independent.
Who wants to belong to a demonized party? Not me. I've identified as independent for years, ever since I realized that as both parties drifted further to the right and left and shut out compromise and cooperation, I was anchoring myself in the middle.
But just how demonic are these parties?
The answer, I think, is this: they are a demonic and radicalized as our fear makes them. The more we react in fear, the more demonic they become. The more we react in love and build bridges of understanding, the more we realize that those so-called demons are a lot like us. We might come at things from different directions, but we all love freedom and peace and sharing a hot cup of coffee and a slice of apple pie.
My last post pointed out that God tells us repeatedly in scripture to fear not, but last night fear won. Fear would have won regardless of which candidate won because so many on both sides are reacting out of fear. Fear's victory began two years ago along with the trench digging of this epically-long-fought election and when we became more focused on our fear of losing to the demons than on our joy of the freedom to shake the other's hand and move forward as Americans.
The other. Those people. When we demonize them, we are lost to God's love.
Nelson Mandela said, "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner." Thankfully, I see so many people working hard and praying hard to diffuse the fear, to celebrate freedom for all, to push kindness and cooperation, and to speak the truth in love. I am not a weird lone voice crying out in the wilderness for peace.
There are legions of us.
We are all, quite literally and also figuratively, in this together.
For the love of God, jump on the bandwagon and start building bridges, folks. Ignore the media divisiveness and sensationalism and misrepresentation and lies, and follow the example of those who are already doing the good work of unification. Reach out to your neighbor in love and compassion and a spirit of freedom and unity-in-difference. Speak up against the fear and speak clearly with healing words and hearts. The view from the bridge is extremely beautiful.
You can do this. I can do this. We can do this. Together.
Because that's what America is all about.