Where Do We Go From Here?

The United States presidential election process has completed. The outcome is not how I voted but I trust the system. It is not a perfect system and it could be made better but it is the best that there is in my opinion. It is time to accept the undisputed outcome as we continue to pray for peace and divine mercy.

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I have been a life-long Republican, and I have remained one because I support the Classically Liberal ideals of the historic Republican Party: the party that fought for and won the 13th and 14th Amendments; the party that supported civil rights based on the intrinsic value of all human persons, rather their value as chattel under the Interstate Commerce clause; the party that fought not only against the systemic racism of the other party but also that of the KKK (which effectively was the terrorist wing of the other party, although I acknowledge that this is historical and not indicative of this other party today); the party of a centrally strong yet limited constitutional federal republic based upon democratic principles and the separation of powers.

I do not view government as intrinsically evil or as a necessary evil; rather, it can be a great source of good. We the people, through the agency of our government, can provide for infrastructure and social programs that provide for all the people what no single person or smaller, private group could ever provide—when properly managed for the good of the people. Thus, I cannot be a Libertarian or Objectivist. I also do not believe that people should simply have certain things handed to them without their own participation or reasonable expectation to contribute, so I cannot be a Democrat or Progressive.

I decided to spend election night with some old friends at the local county Republican HQ. What I witnessed there was awesome and terrible, both in the worst possible of ways. I sat there listening to people with whom I now find myself to have so little in common, wondering why I still even am associating myself with this political party. The raw and almost unapologetic and unmitigated bigotry, racism and hatred that I witnessed from many (not all, I fortunately admit) of Trump's supporters was nearly palpable and it shocks, disgusts, frightens and angers me. The use of patently offensive phrases and epithets, none of which I care to repeat, curdled my blood. I watched people who clearly agreed but because they were still reasonably restrained, did not say so openly. I watched others who were visibly disturbed but said nothing. I tried to inject some reason and balance, noting that we were heading down a slippery path, but I quickly realized that I wasn't being heard; rather, I was actually endangering myself. I cannot say that this rise in open bigotry, misogyny and xenophobia is Trump's intention but the effect of his statements, policies and previous bad actions are real nonetheless.

I have never been more ashamed of any association in my life. This is no longer the party of Lincoln or Reagan, at least where I live. It is no longer the party that championed freedom for all people, at least in principle, if not perfectly in practice. It is no longer the party that I remember from my youth.

I know that this event is not historically indicative, and the attitudes that I found expressed there are not reflective, of the views, opinions and sentiments of every Republican; however, the majority present on election night left me struggling not to weep openly. It was all that I could do to hold in my grief and sorrow until I broke down while sitting in my car at the end of the ordeal. There were several of us throughout the evening who were looking at each other with looks of confusion and bewilderment in our eyes. What were we witnessing? How could we have come back to this point as a people where some of us feel comfortable openly expressing feelings of superiority against other persons because of race, national origin or sexuality? (And if I'm honest, I have to admit to my own shame that I, too, have prejudices against which I struggle and fight to eradicate from my heart.) I felt as if I was watching the birth and rise of Nazi 'Murica. I could have lived my life quite happily without experiencing what might prove to be a replay of the lesson that I thought that we had learnt from 1930's Germany.

I do not know where we go from here. I have no answer as to how we turn from this path. God help us. God save us. God have mercy on us.

This post was previously published through social media.

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James Reed

Love has EVERYTHING to do with it, all you need is love!

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