Saturday, February 18, 2017

You Regret Your Vote. What Next?

Earlier this week, the Twitter account @Trump_Regrets was the subject of a fascinating New York Times article which noted that people were regretting their votes for Trump for a wide swath of reasons, but especially because they now feel personally hurt or harmed by Trump's complete lack of presidential behavior and judgment in the past four weeks. The tweets themselves might be a source of schadenfreude in my more grumpy moments, but truthfully, they're really quite heartbreaking to read.

Here's just a sampling:

I believe all of these folks when they say that their regret for having voted for Trump is sincere. And while confession is generally good for the soul, part of confession from a Christian perspective is always what comes afterward: penance. We teach that repentance must not only be sincere, but substantive--it must result in not just a change of heart or nature, but also in spiritual fruit that you and others can benefit from.

So, if you have come to regret your presidential vote last November, what can you do to repent, to show penance? Here are just five ways to do so:

1. OWN YOUR VOTE. Don't try to diminish it by saying you had no idea that Trump would do the things that he has spent the past four weeks doing--plenty of people were trying to warn you of that, and for whatever reason, you chose not to listen when the moment of truth in the voting booth arrived. This isn't me saying "I told you so," this is me asking you not to try to sweep your enabling of Trump under the proverbial rug, because it is important for the efficacy of ways #2-5.

2. If you have friends who are genuinely worried about their well-being because Trump represents an existential threat to their livelihoods, listen to them. Really listen, too. Don't talk over or interrupt them. Ask them how you can help them. Then, do what they ask of you without debating them or playing devil's advocate.

3. Put your money where your mouth is. Donate to the ACLU, Northwest Immigrants Rights Project, or any number of other organizations doing the good work that needs to be done during the next four years. If your finances allow, set up a recurring donation.

4. Get involved yourself. Attend a protest. Write or call your Congressional representatives and senators. Explain exactly how and why you came to regret your vote and ask them to act as a check on Trump's various excesses.

5. And finally, remember this profound feeling of regret that you feel now when Election Day 2018 and Election Day 2020 both roll around, and cast your vote accordingly, with forethought, care, and deliberation.

This list is by no means exhaustive. It is meant to be a springboard, not an index. I encourage you to get creative with regret (man, we clergy really don't say that enough, do we?). I hope that, instead of just wallowing in it, you can find life, energy, and meaning in it. Our consciences exist to make us better people, and I pray that for you just as much as I pray that for myself.

We're in for a long four years, brothers and sisters. Be there for one another. Even if you weren't before. Especially if you weren't before.

Vancouver, Washington
February 18, 2017

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