Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Plus Ultra

In a few hours there will be a new president in the United States. Either way, America will not be the same again, as this election has been the undoing of this nation. In Latin, the phrase ne plus ultra signifies the climax, the highest point that can be attained or the ultimate. As events unfold, the question that begs to be answered is if this is the ultimate, the height that will be attained in how America deals. Without doubt, this has been the most divisive election season I've been privy to or have simply witnessed. Being an immigrant in the United States, my first chance to vote was in 2008 as I became a United States citizen just in time to cast my vote for Barack Obama. I still remember where I was when Wolf Blitzer called in a victory for Barack Obama. To say it was surreal is an understatement. Then in 2012, Obama went up again for reelection and won, making the American Dream and its promise of upward mobility for all [as long as you made the effort] somewhat possible.

When I went to the polls in 2008, during the Presidential Primaries, I was conflicted. On the ballot was an African American, Barack Obama and a woman I respected, Hillary Clinton. My thoughts at the time were, was I black first, or was I a woman first? Given the nature of our births our gender is what is announced and not race. However, living in the United States, I learned that I was only female secondarily but was primary identified by my race. I was a black woman and the woman was just an addendum as I was black. Thus, I walked into that polling station and cast my vote for Obama, identifying with my race and a candidate I believed in.

However, as much as I have clung to my blackness, and still do cling, in this electoral season, I brought my blackness though, but importantly my gender. For as long as I have remembered, I have always admired and respected the Clintons, importantly Hillary, and I remember the holiday when all I got were books either written by or about the Clintons. Thus, when news about another run began brewing, I knew that I would be voting for Clinton. At the time, I thought the usual suspects, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Mitt Romney would run for office on the Republican ticket, then Ben Carson became a candidate and then Donald Trump reared his toupee clad head.

I could write a dissertation about Trump, but a lot has been said about him already. But one thing is certain, for all his racist diatribe and divisive rhetoric, Trump is a reflection of the American consciousness. When he talked about Mexicans as rapists, expressed his intentions in building a wall, mocked a disabled reporter, talked openly and with great gusto about sexual assault, mocked a deceased military veteran, his surrogates only supported or found ways to explain his vitriol away. What I soon realized was Trump was no different from the man at the grocery store who smiled and gleefully bagged my groceries while wearing a hat that promised to "Make America Great Again." What Trump had that the man at the grocers didn't have was a platform to spew his vitriol. So while the man at the grocers didn't have the grand hotels and hefty bank accounts and affiliations to hide behind and perhaps tell me what he thought about me, he had Trump who could.

While I have been baffled by Trump's vitriol, his vile behavior and blemished reputation, I have been even more befuddled by the people who have trumpeted his virtues. Importantly, I have been confused and shocked by Christians who have heralded Trump and have both overtly and covertly pushed his agenda. While I might give a pass to those in the pews, I have been shocked by those from the pulpit that have through aggression and coercion talked their flock into voting for Trump. As an evangelical Christian I cannot reconcile my Christian faith with an endorsement of Donald Trump.

His list of sins though not irredeemable keep increasing daily. Are Trump's cocktail of bigoted and sexist remarks locker room talk, bluffing, or are they a reflection of his character? I'll go with the latter and assert that with Trump, what you see is what you get and any pastor endorsing him has some deep soul searching to pursue. It is no secret that the church has been aligned with the Republican party because of the need to preserve traditional values that are the core of the Christian faith, but there is a major flaw in a theology that endorses a bigot  simply because he manages to speak your dialect or finagle his way into your bedroom. But alas, politics does make strange bedfellows!

Mention the name Hillary Clinton and her candidacy and those who are opposed will bring up a history of corruption and then finally segue into talks about emails. Now I will say this, while Hillary Clinton is not the savior we want, Donald Trump is without doubt the Messiah we do not need. Hillary surely has been caught with her hands in the cookie jar a number of times and it is not a secret that her record is blemished and leaves room that allows for aspersions to be cast. Yet, one cannot point out her faults without noting her commitment to public service beginning with her activism as a young girl, following through to college, law school, the Children's Defense Fund and her service in the White House, the United States senate and in the State Department. In every election there are always imperfect candidates and Hillary is no different. Thus, I will admit that as much as I was excited by Obama's candidacy, I was worried by his inexperience and I would be veering from truth if I assert that I have no concerns about a Clinton candidacy.

Surely, Clinton will never be a candidate for canonization, however history would be remiss to not celebrate her ambition in spite of her shortcomings. While Clinton is my preferred candidate, I will not gloss over her mistakes. Did she err on the issue of the emails, of course she did. Despite the final verdict [even after the recent revivals of the probe last week] that prove that there was no wrongdoing, her actions had the appearance of an attempt to either cover up or mask some type of misconduct or grossly illegal behavior. I do not say this lightly as I will always vote for integrity and transparency. But to quote a meme I saw leading up to the election, "if you had to undergo heart surgery, would you rather a surgeon who has been accused of malpractice operate on you or the manager of a fast-food restaurant?"

In all, this election has surely been like no other as it has shown that Americans do not respect their core democratic ideals. So, no matter how we try to spin the perception of the country, beneath the patriotic songs and fireworks are deep seethed issues and a need for a long drawn out effort at reconciliation and reparations. Without doubt, this election has exposed America as a severely divided country that is going to be even more fractured once this election season is over. The entire process has been a reflection of the bigotry, anger, racism, sexism, religious turpitude, and depravity that seems to be the foundation as opposed to virtues such as freedom and fairness.

Nonetheless, for all that ails this nation, there is so much good about this country that has been blighted by the current election. Thus, this election is not the end. There is more, plus ultra. Either that tending to make America truly great, or that signals a downward spiral. Either way, there is more to come and the next four years will be a turning point in American history. There should be no surprise, for if anything, the Brexit vote seemed to be a harbinger of things to come.

Either way, my faith gives me confidence that God is sovereign, and irrespective of who gets into The White House, His will stands because His purposes cannot be thwarted and He can accomplish His will either through Hillary, Trump, Mussolini, or Castro. But I want to tell my children and grandchildren, that I stood on what I believed to be the right side of history, that I stood with her. While tonight, in this moment, I do not know what the future holds for this nation it is my hope that Donald Trump does not lead this nation, but if he does, he will have my support as my president should, but he will never have my respect.

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