If you grew if you grew up in America, one of the first things you learned in school was the pledge of allegiance. One of the most telling phrases in the pledge – or at least it used to be – was “One Nation, Under God”. The 2016 presidential election has shown us the darker side of the American experience, and one clear point is that it proves America is not one nation under God.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll say at the outset that I am a Bible believing non-denominational Christian. I’ll also admit that I voted for Donald Trump. Not because I love him, or because I’m a Republican, which I’m not (I’m actually a Libertarian), but because he was the candidate who spoke of change.
Do I believe him? I have my reservations, believe me, but I’m daring to hope. No matter, Hillary Clinton represented the established political order, and there was no way I would cast my vote for that. We have too many serious problems that need even more serious action, and the status quo has thus far failed to deliver on it – Republican or Democrat.
And also for the record, I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because he likewise promised change, and because the Republicans richly deserved to be repudiated in that election. So please don’t read this article with the assumption that I’m a hard core right wing extremist. (“Extremist” being a label that is routinely assigned to anyone who doesn’t agree with the us, and heavily overworked at that, but I digress.)
Let’s get back to the main topic – that the 2016 election proves America is not one nation under God.
The “Under God” Myth
This is the second part of the phrase in the pledge that I am dissecting here. I want to discuss this one first because it’s probably the easier of the two.
Many of my Christian brothers and sisters cherish this phrase in connection with America, as well as the related phrase that appears on the currency “In God We Trust”. They see it as a deeply symbolic connection between their faith and their country.
That’s a neat connection – if only it were true.
From a spiritual perspective, both phrases border on blasphemy. I say that because you’re taking the Lord’s name in vain – a violation of the Third Commandment – anytime you utter such a phrase that has no connection to reality or faith in God.
The reality is that America is not a Christian nation, certainly not in the 21st century, if it ever truly was. There’s also the question of who or what exactly we define as “God”. I suspect that for the vast majority of people in America, that version of God is not the God of the Bible.
Let’s dare to consider the possibilities:
- To many people, use of the term “God” is is nothing more than a tradition, even a convention
- Many believe in a limited God, that is a God who may exist, but doesn’t involve himself in the affairs of humanity
- Many believe in a conditional God – God exists only if he helps us, and if he doesn’t then there is no God
- Many – an increasing number in fact – don’t believe in God at all, and merely politely tolerate the God references
- Not all people who consider themselves to be Christians actually are, preferring to believe in some watered down version of God
- We certainly don’t behave as a nation that defers to “our” God, if we could ever even agree on whose God we mean
That last point touches on the 2016 election. We didn’t behave like a God-fearing nation, but more like spoiled children. The hate that has been spewed from both sides – and continues even after the election – indicates a deeply depraved emotional and spiritual state of existence. Forget about the assertion of being a divided nation – our problems are much more fundamental than that.
If we truly believe in God, we’d recognize that human existence doesn’t hinge on the election of one candidate or the other, or of one party or the other. But we act like a country that has no faith in a higher power whatsoever, but rather sees itself as its own savior. If my candidate/party doesn’t win the election, then all of humanity, and even the earth itself, are completely doomed.
Exaggeration? Read the headlines. Watch the videos. Listen to the chatter. Listen to the “experts” gone wild. It’s a feeding frenzy of hate, much of it coming from those who claim to be people of love.
A nation “Under God” – I don’t think so. America is spiritually adrift, and an emotional basket case. It’s time to admit that the two conditions go hand-in-hand. But we’d have to get over ourselves to do that.
The “One Nation” Myth
If we were truly one nation, then the Democrats would stand down, accept the fact that they lost in a lawfully valid election, and unite behind the new president.
Even if you are a dyed-in-the wool Democrat, you have to admit that that isn’t happening. You may not even want it to happen. But it must!
One of the core principles of democracy is the legitimacy of opposition. That means that you accept the outcome of an election, and the new leadership that it creates, even if your side didn’t win. If we lose this principle, then our country will succumb to open violence and mob rule. Even if you hate Donald Trump, you have to admit that this will not be a happy outcome.
Many in the Hillary Clinton camp – so overcome with emotion and anger – are not accepting the outcome. Instead, many are taking to the streets and protesting, sometimes violently. Others – who have a public forum – are fashioning new careers aimed at taking down Donald Trump. Make no mistake about it, that is developing into a closet industry, as the next four years will sadly show.
In the aftermath of the 2016 election, America is clearly not one nation. In fact, if you look at the election map, you see a clear geographical distinction in which most Northeastern and West Coast states went for Clinton, while most in-between and Southern states went with Trump.
Put another way, the map looks a lot like the second American Civil War. And if the emotional heat that now predominates continues on its current path, don’t be surprised if some states don’t seriously consider secession.
We can do lip service to the notion of “one nation under God” all we want, but those are just words if we don’t behave like they really matter.
The Electoral College – And Why It’s a Good Thing That We Have It
According to the 2016 election map, Donald Trump took 290 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 232 votes (Michigan, which leaned toward Trump, has 16 votes that have not yet been declared). However, Clinton took the popular vote by more than 1 million votes, with nearly 63 million votes to Trump’s nearly 62 million votes.
The popular vote has millions of Clinton supporters and many media pundits and Democratic politicians crying foul and saying that Clinton should rightfully win the election due to the edge in the popular vote. But that argument is entirely invalid. The electoral college has been the law in the US for over 200 years, and for a very good reason.
The electoral college was implemented to keep the big states from ruling over the smaller ones. This election makes the point clearly. True enough, Clinton won the popular vote, if only marginally. But consider that if you take California and New York out of the equation, Trump not only won the popular vote, but he did so by a substantial margin.
Consider that Clinton won the popular vote in California by a count of 6,757,283 votes to 3,628,274 for Trump. That’s a margin of victory of more than 3.1 million votes. Similar situation in New York, Clinton won by a count of 4,143,874 to 2,640,570, or by more than 1.5 million votes. Combined, Clinton had an advantage of more than 4.6 million votes from just two states.
If we remove California and New York from the mix, Trump wins by more than 3.6 million votes – that’s the 4.6 million+ margin from the two states, less the 1 million national margin that Clinton received. That 3.6 million vote swing would represent a 3% advantage to Trump on the national level – quite respectable for a challenger who wasn’t given much chance by the media and the political “experts”.
But that’s the whole point. If there is no electoral college, then the White House is decided by just two very large states. And that’s what the Founding Fathers were trying to prevent. In 2016, it was mission accomplished by men of vision from an enlightened era that many today would prefer to erase from the history books, in favor of the populist politics du jour.
That said, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the members of Congress – bowing to the angry mob – went full-on populist and cast their votes for Clinton, changing the outcome of the election. It will be the first time in US history, but these are very different times, with very different and often non-existent values. Anything we can imagine is possible.
If We’re Not One Nation, and We’re Not Under God, Then Exactly What Are We???
This is a question that we should be asking first and foremost. It is much more important than who won the election, or than the efforts to reverse the outcome of that election.
On an emotional level, it can be comforting to say that my candidate should have won because she won the popular vote by 1 million votes. I used to believe that too – when I was young and didn’t know any better. But I’m older, wiser, and I recognize the central need to have mechanisms, like the electoral college, that serve to balance power.
I would also suggest to anyone who is hanging their hat on the popular vote advantage of Clinton, that you are completely ignoring the fact that the Republicans also took the House, the Senate, and the great majority of governorships. All of those outcomes serve as a validation of the integrity of the electoral college system.
If a significant swath of the population decided they are going to resist the incoming Trump Administration by whatever means necessary, that will be the most divisive and destructive behavior this country has ever seen.
I believe that the major reason why this country is no longer able to make even small improvements in its troubled system is because the citizenry is no longer capable of agreement on either positions or solutions. As a nation, we don’t know what we believe any more.
We have instead disintegrated into a nation of special interests. People and people groups are more concerned with feeding at the public trough, and making sure that they get their “fair share”, than of subordinating their own personal interests to the good of the nation.
The net result is that there is no nation, just a conglomeration of special interests.
And if I may say this, many Americans who prior to the election preached that Donald Trump and those who voted for him are violent haters, are now behaving in exactly that manner.
Let’s assume for a moment that all that the Democrats charged about Trump and his supporters is true – that they are all violent haters. If the Democrats behave as violent haters themselves, then it is entirely possible that we will have open civil war. Yes, the kind we hear about in third world countries, but that we are absolutely certain could never happen here.
That’s what happens when the legitimacy of opposition is flushed down the toilet. There is no nation, and certainly not one nation.
What We Need to Do as a Nation, But Probably Won’t
Whether you love Trump or hate him – or are somewhere in between, like me – as citizens we have an obligation to ourselves, to our communities, and to the nation, to unite behind the new president. We don’t have to agree with everything that Trump does or says, but we do need to give him a chance.
It’s Trump succeeds in revamping and streamlining our bizarre tax code, and somehow manages to make significant improvements to Obamacare, then we will all be better for it.
But if we commit to opposing everything Trump stands for, we will be supporting and extending the very gridlock that we claim to detest.
Change isn’t only good when it comes from “your candidate/party”. Good change is good change, regardless of the source.
Rather than opposing Trump and everything he stands for, we can have a more positive impact by supporting that which might be good for the country.
The Future Doesn’t Look Bright
As much as I would like to believe in an optimistic outcome, I can’t see it developing. The protests, technical challenges, and outright dissent immediately after the election are signaling a very stormy time over at least the next four years. Dissent tends to feed on itself, especially at a time when so many are disenfranchised.
If the anti-Trump crowd doesn’t succeed in overturning the election by invalidating the electoral college, it is likely that the scandal mongers will begin operating full force. They probably won’t even wait until January 20 – they are likely digging up dirt as you read this article.
A nation whose leader is beset by opposition and allegations of scandal is a nation heading for disaster. Failure will be the only possible outcome. No matter how much you oppose Donald Trump, you shouldn’t be jumping on that bandwagon. At a time of boiling crisis, a hamstrung leader will be a liability to a nation that is failing.
There’s only one rational course of action – put the hatred aside and give the new president a chance. Let him prove that he’s as bad as you say he is, and then vote him out in 2020. And if it turns out that he actually succeeds at improving a few things, shut up, sit back, relax and enjoy it.
To do that, we will need both faith and unity. We will have to put “One Nation Under God” into practice, rather than merely reciting the noble sounding words.
Can you handle it – can you actually do what you have been pledging to do since you were a child?
That’s the challenge for the entire country over the next four years.