Parson to Person December 2016

“13 Reasons for Hope”

A number of you asked for a list of the “13 Reasons for Hope” that I mentioned on Sunday, November 20th. The whole sermon would be too lengthy to include in this space, or course; but here is a summary of the reasons, along with a few explanatory notes.

1. Donald Trump did not actually win the popular vote. He actually received 1.7 million votes less than Hillary Clinton, garnering 47% of the vote to her 48%. But, as in 2000 with Bush and Gore, our electoral-college voting system gave the “loser” the presidency. So when you hear people say he won a “mandate,” please correct them.

2. Since this is the second time in recent history that the winner of the election did not win the votes, perhaps people will now begin to work for an end to our present (outmoded) electoral-college system.

3. Younger people (18-30) voted more for Clinton (54%) than for Trump (37%).
This may foreshadow a more progressive future.

4. Not all Trump supporters are racist or agree with his total agenda. Some folks voted for him because they believed (however erroneously) that he could deliver on bringing jobs back from overseas and lowering income inequality. Or because they thought he was the outsider, and they were tired of “politics” as usual.” Some even voted for him for the same reason they voted for Obama 8 years ago–they wanted hope and change. It’s also important to remember that 13% of African Americans and one-third of Latinos voted for Trump. And as for women, although the majority (54%) voted for Clinton, that was helped along by Latina women (two-thirds of whom voted for Clinton) and black women (94%). If you look at white women only, the majority of them (53%) voted for Trump! (That was still less than the percentage of white men, however, who voted 63% for him.)

5. Though not all his supporters are racist, Trump’s campaign did bring America’s racism to light.
If anyone thought America has already solved its problems with racism and civil rights, and thus women and people of color should quit “whining”–America’s dirty little secret is no longer so little and secret. This may be a good thing in the long run, because now we will see more clearly who and what we are up against.

6. Donald Trump will never be able to deliver on all the things he has promised. Eventually people will expect to see results, and he can’t deliver on everything he has said he will. When that happens, we can expect some change in politics.

7. Trump won’t be able to use the argument that Congress is against him, since the House and the Senate will be in Republican hands.

8. The Republican Party is not united. Although the executive and legislative branches appear to be controlled by one party now, there are at least 2 wings in it today, notably Tea Party Republicans and the more moderate and mainstream side. Not all legislation will pass easily in this divided environment.

9. Donald Trump is probably not as conservative as he has made himself appear. He has already backtracked in several areas, and some of his more radical proposals may not come to pass–for the simple reason that he either won’t push for them, or will do so half-heartedly.

10. Midterm elections are in 2 years. Historically, the party in the White House tends to lose members in the House and Senate at the midterm.

11. Despite Trump’s promise to abolish the Affordable Care Act, it will be difficult to overturn. Some of Obamacare’s more popular promises–like the one that lets young adults stay on their parents’ policies until they’re 26, and the one saying insurance companies can’t exclude people from coverage because of previous conditions–will be difficult to simply abolish. Obamacare as we know it will undoubtedly change; but it will probably not be completely overturned.

12. If Clinton had been elected president, it would have been very difficult for her to accomplish a lot. With the entire legislative branch against her, imagine how hard it would have been for her to get a progressive agenda through. If we remember how difficult it was for Obama to get anything passed in Congress, imagine how hard it would have been for Clinton? And if she wasn’t able to get anything passed, she would have been blamed for the government failure.

13. This election has created a surge in progressive activism and donations. Already the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has gotten its biggest surge of support in all its 94-year history–with over $7 million given by over 100,000 donors in the first weeks after the election. Planned Parenthood has received donations from more than a hundred thousand donors during that time, and the Sierra Club has experienced a surge too. (Maybe even UU churches will see an uptick in support?)

14. This country has lived through worse presidencies. (Consider Andrew Jackson.)

15. We have history to guide us. We now know about the Jewish Holocaust in Germany, and seen how a dictator can get into power and do unspeakable harm. So we have a model of what to look out for when so-called charismatic leaders rise to power. The German people at that time did not. We do. We must never forget.

16. At least Ted Cruz didn’t win. As much as Donald Trump has debased presidential politics, think about what might have happened if Ted Cruz had won the Republican primary? As president he would have pushed an extremely right-wing agenda, and he would have had the respectability that might enable him to get it through.

There you have it: 13-plus reasons for hope. They should not be taken as reasons to be complacent. They are reasons why we should not give up on our work for social justice, or on our vision of a “world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all” (our 6th UU Principle). In other words, they are not reasons to sit back and do nothing. They are reasons to roll up our sleeves and get to work!

And with that, I wish you …
peace and unrest,

Tony Larsen

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