I have stayed up to the bitter end on election night. Secretary Clinton has just conceded the race, and President-elect Trump is delivering his victory speech as I type. There will be much to say in coming days about tonight’s result. Before turning-in for the night, I offer five quick thoughts on what we have just witnessed.
1. This is the American Brexit. It’s a populist realignment of the American two-party system. Donald Trump won 44% of the vote during the GOP primaries, and he has achieved a stunning victory tonight. The GOP is now the party of populism, not the party of conservatism. A similar populist strain runs right through the Democratic Party as well. That strain is reflected in the 47% who voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, and that strain will endure for the foreseeable future. This populist divide runs right through both parties and has changed everything this cycle. Will it endure? I don’t know. But there’s no question about what just happened. The people spoke, and their voice astonishes the ruling class. This result leaves the nation’s media and political elites as the shocked victims of their own presumption.
2. I have been an outspoken opponent of both major party nominees. That means that no matter the result of this election, I was going to be disappointed. I thought both candidates to be uniquely unqualified for the presidency. But what now? I don’t regret opposing these candidates. I continue to believe both candidates to pose real challenges to the common good. I trusted neither of them on the issues I care about most—sanctity of life, marriage, and religious liberty. I also believe both of them to have character flaws undermining their fitness for office. In light of that, what is my duty now? If the Apostle Paul told Christians to honor Emperor Nero, then I know I certainly have an obligation to honor the president-elect (Rom. 13:1-7). I will be the loyal opposition when necessary. I will also be praying that I was wrong about him and that he will do better than what I have expected him to do (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
3. I hope that evangelicals who have been divided over this election can reconcile and come together again. To that end, I want to repeat something I wrote last week. I have many friends and loved ones who made the decision to cast a mournful vote for the GOP nominee. They care about the unborn and religious liberty just as much as I do. They have no illusions about what the GOP nominee is. They did not wish to endorse his character, and they weren’t making a public discrediting defense of the indefensible. They too were dismayed about the alternatives before them. But they made a prudential judgment about the best way to do damage control with their vote. As I have said, I disagree with their decision, but I understand and respect them. The last thing I want is to be divided from them now that the election is over. This has been the most divisive campaign I have ever seen. If this election somehow were to result in a lasting division among Christians who should otherwise be together, that would be lamentable. For my part, I want to do what I can to keep that from happening.
4. I have black and brown friends and loved ones who are deeply distressed by the result of this election. They and others are justifiably concerned about what the future holds given what president-elect Trump has said and done during his campaign. Our country is deeply divided, and many people are terrified by tonight’s election result. I have not and will not forget them. I am thinking about and praying for them tonight.
5. God is still running this show. “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?'” (Dan. 4:35). “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Ps. 115:3). Nations come and go at the sovereign ordination of God. For those of us who love our country and the good it has stood for, patriotism means celebrating a heritage handed down to us by a smiling providence. But we also know that this great experiment in ordered liberty can be a tenuous thing. That is why Benjamin Franklin defined our system of government as “A Republic, if you can keep it.” So I will be praying that we can keep it a little while longer. We don’t deserve it. But then we never did, did we?