One Week Later


It has been one week since the election but ‘We the People’ has felt more like them and those people.

And it has only been one week.

Psychologists have told me about deep anxiety patients are expressing.  People have told me of friendships which have been strained or broken.  Fellow clergy have shared they feel their years of building bridges and preaching tolerance was wasted.

I have asked Trump voters within our synagogue to describe what they found compelling about Donald Trump.  Their answers focused on his ‘change agenda’, anti-Clinton feelings, and ‘pro-Israel’ policies including moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and expanding settlements.

President Trump’s election is different than past elections though.  We previously had close elections (Bush v Gore).  We had significant policy differences between candidates (Bush v Dukakis).

People’s despondency though seems to stem from a profound disappointment in our country allowing intolerance to win.

The Founding Fathers codified in the preamble of our Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence (sic), promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

To me, this week did not feel like we made the nation more perfect or established justice or promoted the welfare for all.

As we move forward, we cannot demonize or generalize about each other though.

For Republicans, be the important moderating voice within your party.  For others, become more engaged in causes essential to you.  No matter who you voted for, we must assure the policies of our next President and Congress reflect our highest values and push away hatred, bigotry and intolerance.

In our daily routines and circles of influence, we must make sure intolerance is not acceptable.  Speak up if you see something.  Talk with your friends, family and children about doing the same.

Our sage Hillel said: Do not separate yourself from the community. (Pirkei Avot 2:4)

So, join the broader community at a unity vigil against hate at Westland Middle School, Thursday night at 7pm. 

It has only been one week… but we can already feel the tectonic shifts.



One comment

  1. I did not vote for Donald Trump and find much of what he has said objectionable, but we live in a democracy and sometimes people we don’t like get elected. Looking back on the election, what strikes me is that it represents a failure of liberalism. Intolerance cuts both ways, and In this context, a turning point must have been Clinton’s disparagement of Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables”, while all her followers tittered into their lattes. These “deplorables” may have been wrong, as I believe, but they are not all drunken yahoos carrying their AR-15s to Walmart to buy Mountain Dew and more ammo. That is a very convenient smear to justify contempt for what are generally decent, law-abiding, tax-paying people, who take care of their families and who don’t generally engage in hatred, and whose sons and daughters risk their lives serving our country, which is not something that our liberals are noted for doing. These people have been under economic and cultural attack for decades and they have elected to throw a brick into the works, because no one bothered to explain or provide a compelling rationale for the real benefits of mainstream policies. Vigils and marches are essentially meaningless ways to provide a lot of feel-good satisfaction to the participants, but improving on the sorry lot of candidates we faced in this election will require more than self-righteousness. It will require us to develop some introspection about our own intolerance, so that we don’t regard people with whom we disagree as “deplorables .” It will require adult behavior on the part of everyone, and the reestablishment of the assumption of good faith. I commend you to President Obama’s remarks after the election:

    One thing that is not required is politicizing our congregation.

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