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How to Respond to President Trump’s First 10 Days

January 30, 2017

For those who thought Trump was exaggerating during his campaign (I was one of them) and wasn’t really going to do what he said he was going to do, it’s now clear he meant it: e.g. a wall on the Mexican border, shutting down immigration from much of the Middle East, and depending on the “alt-right” for trusted advice.

For those who thought Trump would act more “presidential” once he became president, we have been disappointed. He has been astonishingly braggadocios and defensive, living in his own made-up world of “alternative facts,” revealing a level of deep-seated insecurity more alarming than I had imagined.

And we’re only 10 days into his presidency.

Some thoughtful people are mostly glad about what they’ve seen so far. They are glad that abortion is going to be addressed with moral seriousness; they are hopeful that Christian refugees–who have suffered some of the worst persecution and been unable to get to the U.S.–may now get special consideration; they are grateful that religious conscience will be respected in the public square (and the marketplace); they are relieved that high taxes and red tape may now be cut; they are enthused that working-class jobs will get some protection; they are joyous that political correctness is not going to rule everything we can say and think; and they prefer a president–vulgar though he may be–who says exactly what he means.

This is why I think it may be a mistake for those who oppose Trump’s policies to pull out all the stops and engage in mass resistance, attempting to block anything he does. This will lead to even more polarization in a nation that is already dangerously polarized. Those who support Trump should not be written off as “deplorables” (to be accurate, Hillary said “half” of his supporters were a basket of deplorables). Many who support Trump have a rational and moral basis for believing his policies may help get us out of some of our political logjams and mistakes.

When Obama became president, the Republican leadership decided to do whatever it could to make his presidency a failure. They forbade Republicans in Congress from engaging in compromise or support of Obama’s proposals. Much as Democrats are tempted to do the same thing now, they ought not. Democrats should be as reasonable as possible: working with Trump and compromising with him whenever they can for the common good; and opposing him only when he is clearly doing something destructive (which will possibly be often). If Trump is to fail (and I believe he largely will), let the failure be squarely on his shoulders. Only then will his supporters desert him. Otherwise, they will blame his failures on the unruly, unreasonable left, and the cycles of paranoia and fake news and dysfunction will continue.

Faith in our political institutions and our electoral processes are at a low-point. We must build them up and improve them, not tear them down. Democracy works only if we believe in it. I’m not against protesting, but let’s protest for what can reasonably be done and can be supported by reasonable people of both parties.

Am I afraid of what Trump may do (and is already doing)? Yes. But he is restricted in doing too much damage for too long if reasonable leaders in both parties simply say “no.” We also have a judicial branch that can stop him if he acts unconstitutionally. Who knows? Perhaps a Trump presidency may even result in the rise of a moderate middle made up of Democrats and Republicans who can actually work together for the common good.

But regardless of what happens in this presidency, we must remember that nothing stops us–the church–from continuing to do what is good and decent and visionary and courageous in our own neighborhoods and towns. More is accomplished through our own daily, ethical, faith-filled actions than by laws handed down. The real transformation is here, among us. Don’t overrate what a president can do. Don’t underrate what a community of faith and love can do.

“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7)


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  1. High taxes and red tape are NOT going to be cut. We will pay for a wall that we did not want and will effect wildlife migration on a horrific level. Our media is banned from reporting information vital to our very survival as a planet as large corporations begin the assault on National Parks, environment protection and civil liberties with a deaf ear. We are in trouble. I thought worshipping the Golden Calf was a sin. I guess it all depends on what book we’re reading and what day of the week it is

    • Thanks, Jill, for these important thoughts. I’m not saying I agree with the accuracy of Trump’s supporters’ hopes; I just want to be fair with what I have heard them say. I want to work together across “the divide” whenever possible. And you’re quite right–we always have to be on guard about worshipping the Golden Calf.

  2. Bob Briscoe permalink

    Ryan: I was thinking a similar thought about a more moderate group forming. With the Executive Order on immigration, folks on both sides of the aisle are upset. Maybe a more solid “middle” will begin to emerge. That’s an encouraging thought amidst these crazy times. Thanks for your

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