For the last several weeks, I have been pondering what I might write on the eve of the inauguration of a new President of the United States. Those who know me know that I am no fan of the soon-to-be POTUS. Neither was I a fan of his primary opponent in the campaign. Nor am I a fan of the outgoing POTUS. I guess I just dislike a lot of people. (Not really, but it sure feels like it sometimes.) There is not much that I can write that will not alienate me from, well, just about everyone. Still, I encourage you to assess my words based on the person that you know me to be.
I have a good friend and fellow pastor who is in the District of Columbia right now, eagerly awaiting the inauguration of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States. He has been a fan of Mr. Trump since the beginning of the campaign. I don’t get it. I understand the “But Hillary . . .” argument, but there were quite a few better choices. It should never have come down to a choice between these two. But it did, and the States chose Mr. Trump. Regardless of how flawed I think the President-elect is, I know my friend, and other friends, who are people of good character. I see very little worthwhile in Mr. Trump, but because I know quite a few people, who are good people, that voted for him, I presume that I am missing something. I hope that I am proven wrong in my concerns about the President-elect, and I hope that his time in office is a prosperous time for all Americans.
At the moment, I am experiencing an interesting combination of emotions. It is part dread, part apathy, and part hope. It is surprisingly similar to what I felt on the eve of the inauguration eight years ago. I liked President Bush. I thought that he did an excellent job with all of the challenges that came during his time in office. I did not vote for him in 2000, but I happily voted for him in 2004. I did not vote for President Obama. I was very concerned about the direction he would take the country in. Now, eight years later, I continue to not be particularly fond of his presidency. However, I have grown to appreciate his character and the way that he conducts himself. Based on the way that Mr. Trump ran his campaign, and the way he continues to use Twitter, I think that I am going to miss President Obama’s character.
And that raises an interesting question: During President Clinton’s time in office, the Christian Right opposed him for being an immoral person. It was a relief to have a good family man like President Bush follow him up. And after the Bushes moved out of the White House, the Obamas moved in. What a beautiful family! President and Mrs. Obama have done well, and I hope that as they transition to private life they will be able to continue as a wholesome family. And now . . . the Trumps. I do not need to elaborate. The President-elect’s history is well-known. What baffles me is that the very things the Christian Right condemned in President Clinton have been excused by that same group in President-elect Trump. Yes, I know. “But Hillary . . .”
Regardless, the States have spoken, and a new President of the United States will take office tomorrow. Eight years ago, conservative spokesperson Rush Limbaugh very publically wished that President Obama would fail. In recent weeks, I have seen many memes and comments expressing how all Americans should want President Trump to succeed. Their argument has been along the lines of this: Why would anyone want the pilot of their airplane, or the captain of their ship, to fail? I agree with this. I want President Trump to succeed. However, it seems a little hypocritical to me that many who agreed with Mr. Limbaugh eight years ago are now condemning those who have raised concerns about Mr. Trump’s presidency. But . . . everyone is free to his or her opinion, and they have the freedom to voice their opinions. That is part of what makes this country great.
Speaking of which, that reminds me of one of the things that I have found particularly annoying about the President-elect. His slogan, “Make America great again,” implies that America is not currently great. Hogwash. The United States certainly isn’t without flaws. However, it has been a great nation, it currently is a great nation, and hopefully it will continue to be a great nation. Every time I see and hear the slogan, I want to punch . . . well, nothing, because I’m not a violent person. But I am annoyed by it.
As Mr. Trump’s administration takes the reins of power, I will be praying for them. I will be praying that God gives them wisdom. I will be praying that they would learn humility. I will be praying that they not only focus on greatness, but that they also seek to stand in solidarity with the marginalized and the oppressed. I will be praying that in all things, God’s eternal Kingdom, defined not by secular borders but rather wherever shalom reigns, is made known.
Mr. Trump, you’re up. Mr. President, I wish you success.