I can’t believe I’m even getting into this.
There are some who would love for me, as a pastor, to lay out my personal perspective on American politics for all to see and hear. I rarely do and certainly never for a crowd (online or otherwise). There are several reasons why I choose not to. Similarly, you will never see me wear a piece of collegiate apparel in front of a large crowd. Rocking a snapback featuring my alma mater (or spilling my guts on American politics) would be a great method for rallying those who are already fans of the school (or political persuasion). It is equally as effective at pushing aways those are not “on my side.” Being in the business of bringing people together, my Atlantic Coast Conference affiliations and political views tend to do the opposite so you have to know me pretty well before I’ll get into either with you (but then it’s fun when we do).
I have been slow to speak and slow to post about the 2016 elections. Our system of governance is extremely important and I encourage everyone to have a high, well-informed level of participation. However, the way this participation plays out during an election season appears to be more and more divisive with this last episode resembling a scene from Mean Girls more so than civil discourse. The language being used is continuing to write an us vs. them narrative. Although I fail again and again, I strive to live a life and work in a career that illustrate a narrative of we. There are always times when we disagree and should do so with passion though the purpose of debate should always be for the sake of the whole, rather than just a winning side or personal agenda.
Perhaps it is the millennial in me, but I can give less and less of my passion to American politics. Each one of us only has a limited capacity of time, attention, and energy. I prefer to give more of my personal resources to causes outside of the political arena and I understand that some of you will disagree with that decision. It’s probably not the first time and certainly won’t be the last that I disappoint you. However, the ways that the political debate is currently rooted in attacking another individual saddens me and there is enough of people tearing each other down already in day to day life.
All that said, I do love the response portrayed recently by one of my favorite sitcoms, Blackish; which presented a very tangible sentiment in the hearts of many Americans during and after the election season. As I contemplate this response, I can’t even begin to compete with the ways in which many have presented healthy responses, but perhaps there is a leadership principle hidden among the murky swamp that is American politics.
There is much to learn as we detox from this previous election season and perhaps the most important lesson is one of vision-casting. Again, putting political views aside, I refuse to believe that Donald Trump was elected on his character. His words certainly struck a cord among many in our country, but I want to believe that most people had to overlook his language and his demeanor in order to pull that lever next to the Republican ticket. Instead, I choose to believe that those who made that decision did so because they were compelled by a vision that Donald Trump was casting for the future of America, specifically on the economy and employment.
Vision is vital.
I would never suggest that someone jeopardize his or her character for the sake of victory. After all, at the end of the day, character is the one thing that cannot be taken from you. We can, however, better understand the need to cast a vision of a preferred future when we are attempting to lead others in particular direction.
So learn a lesson from this recent election and go cast a compelling vision, leaders. And then do the hard work of developing and implementing strategy to get those who follow you from here to there…together.