Understanding the Times: What Can We Discern From the Election?

by Guy Rodgers, President and CEO

Soon after the Brits cast their shocking vote to leave the European Union last June, I penned a perspective titled “Trumpism, Brexit and Understanding the Times.”  I wrote:

…why is the standard bearer of the Republican Party a man who delights in being politically incorrect, who indulges in personal attacks in ways that would have disqualified any other candidate running for President in the past 75 years, who vexes Democrats, Independents and Republicans alike, and yet has a sizeable, unmovable core of support that sticks with him no matter what?

I went on to ask:

Could it be that we are seeing the first wave of a broader pushback against globalism from citizens in the UK and the US?

What I meant by “globalism” was an evolving international network of elites that is arrogating to itself greater and greater power and control over our lives, even extending beyond national borders.  This, I believe, was the primary reason why British voters said “enough” to the European Union.

When I asked this question I did not know Donald Trump would be the next President of the United States.  In fact, despite having worked in the political campaign world for many years, including in five presidential campaigns, by late summer I had given up prognosticating this election.  As I told friends who asked me, “This is the craziest, most unpredictable campaign I’ve ever seen, so it seems to me anything can happen.”

That was in July.  There were still more twists and turns to come, and “anything” did happen.

Today, in light of the election results of last week, it’s evident to me that the same undercurrent that swept to the surface and stunned the watching world in the UK is alive and well in the U.S.

For some voters, globalism, expressed in issues such as global trade or the advocacy for open borders, motivated their vote for Trump.

For others, I would argue it wasn’t specifically globalism, but rather other issues which have been created by the same players as those advancing globalism, whom I call the “elite political ruling class.”

Whether in Hollywood, academia, the establishment media (I refuse to call it “mainstream,” as it’s anything but), or in the political corridors of Washington, DC, this ruling class constitutes what Fox News contributor Monica Crowley called “the protected class.”

They are those who use whatever power at their disposal to design a structure in which they (1) make the rules; (2) are largely protected from the negative consequences of those rules (often intentionally so); (3) employ political correctness to define the terms of the debate about those rules; (4) and then disparage, demean, demonize, malign and marginalize those in the “unprotected class” who take issue with those rules and who suffer as a result.

Examples of this abound.  The elite political ruling class in Congress forced Obamacare on us and exempted Congress from it.  Global leaders demand policies to mitigate global warming, policies even they admit won’t have much impact but will cost trillions of dollars, and then travel to endless climate change conferences in their gas-guzzling private jets as they mock those they call climate change “denyers.”

Lois Lerner leads the charge at the IRS to target non-profit organizations based on their ideology and is then allowed to retire – with generous government benefits. The EPA damages a mine, polluting the Animas River for months, and no one is made to shoulder responsibility.  You and I do this and we’re either in jail or fined to the point of bankruptcy.

A sailor took pictures of classified areas of a submarine to show his family and was sentenced to a year in prison.  FBI Director James Comey acknowledges Hillary Clinton was extremely careless in handling classified information, and while such information almost certainly ended up in the hands of our enemies she escapes the sailor’s fate.

Neighbors of the San Bernadino Islamic terrorists suspected their evil but said nothing, afraid of being accused of “Islamophobia.”  Speech codes on college campuses, in a frightening affront to the First Amendment of the Constitution, virtually silence any dissent from politically correct orthodoxy.

What we’re now seeing, first in Brexit and then in the election of Donald Trump, is mass voter push back against this political elite by a coalition of diverse streams of voter interests that converged together in one voice to say “we’ve had enough.”

It’s the coal worker in West Virginia, a registered Democrat, whose livelihood has been destroyed by the Obama administration’s “war on coal.”

It’s the evangelical Christian who’s grown weary of being called a “hater” because she subscribes to the Bible’s clear prescriptions for healthy sexuality.

It’s the small business owner who bristled when President Obama proclaimed “you didn’t build that,” but doesn’t have time to go protest somewhere because she’s working 70 hours a week.

It’s the middle class family who lost their health insurance plan but make just a little too much to qualify for an Obamacare subsidy, and are now paying double for an insurance plan that is only half as good as what they once had.

It’s the white collar professional who lost his job after the 2008 economic meltdown, then watched angrily as the number of federal employees grew by over 200,000 while unemployment ravaged the private sector.

It’s the pastor who’s been scolded that he doesn’t have a right to impose his “intolerant” morality on others and then cringes as celebrities like Madonna and Miley Cyrus, promoted by the “political elite ruling class,” force their vulgar, offensive sexual hedonism into every nook and cranny of his congregation.

It’s the college student, a registered Independent, who identifies herself as a moderate but resents how her college won’t allow any speakers on campus who aren’t liberal.

It’s the discouraged union worker who watched in disbelief as well-funded environmental groups who are the chic of Hollywood killed his chance for a job building the Keystone Pipeline.

It’s the restaurant server who told my daughter she voted for Trump but couldn’t tell anyone she worked with because she was afraid of the blowback she would get.

It’s obvious these voters had different specific reasons for why they voted as they did.  There is no all-encompassing ideology, political philosophy, or common political party affiliation.  So what united them in voting for Trump?

“We’ve had enough – it’s time to rein in the elite political ruling class.”

That, it seems to me, is the commonality between the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump.

So what can we as devoted followers of Christ discern from this?  What does this portend for the next few years?

First, we’ve been given a reprieve, so we need to roll up our sleeves and re-commit ourselves to really getting about our Father’s business.  For instance, if Donald Trump nominates the kinds of judges he has indicated he would, we’ve gotten a reprieve from a judicial climate that has become increasingly hostile to religious liberty, and we need to act accordingly while we still live in the light to act.  Earlier this year the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released its annual report that stated, not implied but stated, that phrases like “religious liberty” are code words for racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.  There should be no misunderstanding – the secular left is determined to further and further restrict religious freedom, subordinating this constitutionally-protected freedom to its ideological agenda.  That train may well have been slowed down as a result of this election.  We must not let this reprieve go to waste.

Second, there is an obvious divide in America, but it’s a divide that transcends politics and political ideology.  Contrary to the endless stream of media commentary that claims Donald Trump caused this divide, it’s a divide that has been accelerating for decades.  On the one hand I sympathize with Christians who regret that such a divide exists.  As the Apostle Paul exhorted us, as far as is possible we are to be at peace with all men.  Ironically, this from the man who was arguably the most divisive Christian leader of his day!

But we believers need to remember that darkness hates light, and the Trump victory doesn’t change the fact that we are a far more secularized and sexualized culture than just fifteen years ago.  The abortion industry despises even the most peaceful activist for the unborn.  The militant atheist who craves political power for the purpose of stamping out religious freedom hides behind the fig leaf of being opposed to discrimination, but in his heart his hatred of Christianity is what is driving him.  The radical leftist who hypocritically preaches “tolerance” while he curses at, shouts down and berates those who disagree with his secular material view of the world does so because he lives in darkness and hates the light.

I am persuaded that in these times God is gathering a faithful remnant who understand the times and who, like Paul, will on the one hand strive to be at peace with others but on the other hand will not compromise the truth of the whole gospel of Christ.  Love and Truth are inseparable sides of the biblical coin. The cultural mandate from Genesis was never abrogated, so let us be renewed and re-energized in our calling to love our neighbor, do good works and change the world around us.

Third, let’s neither expect too much nor too little from what happened on election day.  Let’s remember that while politics is a powerful force in modern times (I would argue far too powerful), it is still downstream from mountains of culture such as family, religion and education.  I believe we should be heartened and encouraged by a voter repudiation of an elite ruling class status quo.  The Bible repeatedly condemns oppression and injustice, the primary products of tyranny.  A rejection of tyranny and the oppression and injustice it produces, no matter how that tyranny has come to be or how it manifests itself, is thus always a good thing.  I believe we can expect a small but discernible scaling back of government control over and intrusion into our lives. Let’s capitalize on this interruption of what has seemed an inexorable drive toward complete command and control government from Washington, DC.

At the same time let’s not conclude that all the problems we see in the culture will be remedied or positively influenced by this election.  This happened after George W. Bush was elected in 2000, when many Christians mistakenly assumed the outcome of the election would have a vastly greater impact on the culture than it did.

I would not presume to understand all of God’s plans and purposes interwoven in this national event we call an election.  But I do believe the Scriptures are clear, that we can and should discern and understand the times.  Be encouraged!  We have been given a reprieve.  What we do with it, across every mountain of culture, remains to be seen.  Let us therefore, more than ever, be about our Father’s business with courage, determination, discernment, perseverance, wisdom, grace and love.

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