Why Hillary Lost

It has become common for political pundits to offer up their own post-mortem on this recent election. They are, afterall, still being paid to speak and write no matter how right or wrong they’ve been all along. They have their followers to lead, astray or otherwise.

I’m no pundit when it comes to politics, mind you. An undergrad Minor in Poli Sci from the mid 60’s makes me anything but an expert. So read what I have to say here with all due skepticism. Let’s just call it what it is: a non-pundit analysis. Or an amateur post-mortem informed mostly by the things I do know something about from the areas of Christianity and Mental Health.

By now, Hillary’s lost election has garnered lots of analysis on how the Obama Democrats managed to vote Trump and his fellow Republicans into power. I’ve yet to see anything in print about how so many Romney and McCain Republicans managed to vote for Clinton to the point where, per the highly non-partisan Cook Political Report on this date of November 21st, Clinton led Trump 63,600,000 to 61,900,000 in rounded off numbers with 7 million ballots uncounted in mostly California and New York, likely padding her numbers still further without affecting any change in the Electoral College. As of today, her lead in the popular vote over Trump is 48% to 46.7%.

That said, the coroner has essentially ruled and I’ll still offer up my own eulogy of sorts. I’ve officiated enough funerals over the years to have qualified at least on that count.

Hillary, I believe, lost because she was too anti-establishment.

That’s right. You read it correctly the first time. She was too anti-establishment.

Her campaign slogan of “Stronger Together” was too anti-establishment and failed to resonate.

You see, we have joined the political pundits in confusing the symptoms of our establishment with its disease. Trump may, or may not, have gone after the chief symptoms as located in Washington D.C. and on New York’s Wall St. These symptom locations, Wall St. and Pennsylvania Ave. are easy targets. Hillary did not attack them but instead worked to attack the actual disease causing those symptoms.

Now that you are properly confused, but hopefully curious as well, let me explain my point. The sick establishment that produces our national symptoms and symbols of contempt………. is our larger “culture of narcissism.” Here’s what I mean. Our nation, which seems to most of us headed in the wrong direction, is based on a culture of individualism, privileging the “I, me, my, mine, and ours first” ………………and the rest of the world “good luck.” The best name I can think to give this is our “culture of narcissism.” And so we have now elected one of us, and his party, to be our Chief Executive Narcissist. There to protect me, mine and ours against you, your, and yours.

Against that establishment comes not a man but a woman, who I’m supposed to trust to protect us from them? Are you kidding me? And she runs this anti-establishment, counter-cultural campaign using words like “Stronger Together” that would seem to mean including our enemies as if they were actually on “my” side against those “others” in “our” country.

Bad move on Hillary’s part.

Way too altruistic. That is, anti-narcissistic. Way too counter-cultural, too anti-establishment.

And way too Jesus-like!

Actually, I’ve been inclined to see Hillary not as Jesus but rather Mary of Magdala. If you know your Bible’s Christian New Testament, you should remember her as being the woman that conservatives, then called Pharisees, loved to hate. If Jesus had been God, he’d have known what kind of woman she was. So much for HIS credibility as the Christ.

Yep. That’s why Jesus lost, too. Fact is he lost his life that way. You see, he was the ultimate public servant out to bring a Kingdom of “peace not as the world gives” (John 14:27) that included even the enemies of his own people. Included even Mary of Magdala. A woman he often associated with and who later became the first to recognize and broadcast his resurrection.

So here’s my viewpoint concerning Hillary Clinton, and Christianity, and mental health. The truth is far more paradoxical than most would like to believe. The rational overcomes the emotional. Reality stands up and trauma faints away. The last shall be first and the first last. The winner becomes the loser and vice versa. Know what I’m saying?

The establishment won this election. The culture of narcissism that causes the symptoms of our diseased establishment in DC and on WS has won. Donald Trump is the winner and the new face of our disease.

And the one whose career has been dedicated to helping the less fortunate “others” has lost. Wasn’t a crucifixion but felt that way to her followers. And while there may not be a resurrection this side of heaven, I wouldn’t bet too highly against it. Because even cultures come and go. Altruists most often outlive and outlast the narcissists among us.  Which is like saying, the lions that once ate Christians are now infinitely outnumbered by Christians and even rescued from their own extinction by these very people called Christian. It’s a paradox indeed.

The culture of narcissism is alive for now. Has yet to self-destruct, as will one day happen. But “Stronger Together” will survive as the fittest. The One Jesus called The Kingdom of God……on earth as it is in heaven will carry a similar slogan or banner. The crucifixion has happened for now but the resurrection will happen then……….and be the forever “anti-establishment.”


The anti-blame game

Have you ever had the experience of being blamed by someone else for something you didn’t do? Blamed for saying something you never said? Maybe accused of something when you were actually innocent?

How about punished? Ever been punished for something you never did?

Now let’s go up the ladder one more step: have you ever been blamed or accused or punished by a group of people who seemed to all agree you were wrong………even when you were not wrong? When the blame game is played in a group or collection or community, we call it “scapegoating.” Can be odd man or woman or boy or girl out. “They” make “you” the outcast. As if you are even “blamed” or “scapegoated” for being different. By age, gender, race, religion, class, or whatever.

Then there is the next step higher when your whole group is blamed by another, often larger group.   Ever found yourselves losers as a group based on your age group, or gender group, or racial, religious, sexual orientation, occupation,  nationality, or such?

Chances are at least some if not all of this has entered your past life experience. So what was that like for you when it happened? What did it feel like inside? Did it anger you, hurt you, scare you in any way? All the above?

You don’t have to answer out loud. I think I may know your answer already. And that’s because I’ve been there, too, in my own life. Lots of times. Couldn’t begin to count. From early childhood on. I know first hand what it’s like to be blamed, accused, and even punished for something I didn’t say or do. I know what it’s like to lose at the blame game. Because these times of loss stir in my mind feelings of anger, hurt, and fear of being hurt again. Those emotions are not easily forgotten or written off.

What I have found in my own experience is that every blame game played against me began with a misunderstanding. Someone assumed something about me that turned out to be wrong, but he/she/they went with it anyway. As if it were true. And because others have misunderstood me, I have been blamed. Even for things I really did not do, or say, or in any way intend. I have fallen victim many times over the years to misunderstandings from which I received the losing end of the blame game.

You, too?

I tell you who else has been misunderstood, then blamed, accused, punished. Yet innocent the whole time.

Jesus. The Christ. God incarnate, embodied, in human form. The Nazarene. A couple centuries back in human history. God. Became. A. Victim. Just. Like. You and me and everyone else.

The blame game caught up with God when he walked the earth in human form and made him the ultimate, big time loser. He came to earth to reveal what his Kingdom of Heaven would look like if it were to come about here on earth. If we had the Kingdom of God here on earth and Jesus embodied that role of King, we would still have our own political system and still render unto Caesar, but we’d offer universal healthcare for all, free education, food for all, the oppressed would go free, the outcasts would be included, the poor would experience good news. And in this kind of Kingdom, we’d all be invited to live and serve as followers of Jesus the Son who would run God’s Kingdom on earth just as the Father runs God’s Kingdom in heaven.       

Do you get it? Do you understand?

If so, good. Because most of his own people all around him and his government with them did not understand. They thought he meant that he would take over Rome and become the new King over Caesar, and, almost as bad for his fellow Jews, he would take over Jerusalem and become King over the Chief Priests already in the Temple. May even drive them out of the Temple. And out of this misunderstanding came the blame game in full operation. Led to accusing him of insurrection against Rome, which meant the death penalty. By means of crucifixion. “They” blamed “him” as the ultimate outsider or outcast. They played the blame game out to its ultimate end, which is always group “scapegoating,” and so……… God. Lost. That. Game. And from there the group that went about following the way of the Christ, and the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven were…………you guessed it, themselves blamed and scapegoated. Misunderstood. Accused. Blamed. Punished. Many also killed.

The blame game.

Here in the United States we’ve just played out a huge one. The election campaign that ended with the winners taking all. Those who did the best job of misunderstanding, accusing, blaming, and promising to punish were declared our winners. The blame game is YUGE here. Winners win and losers lose. And we go on to the next round.

As with most games, the blame game can become addictive enough that we want to just play one more. And then one more. And just another. And another. Well, you get the idea. Any thought that our US elections will be different next time after this last grand game was finally ended so triumphantly is, how can I say this?, a highly irrational thought. Games don’t work that way. The winners want to play again. Sometimes the losers do, too. And so we line em up and play it again. And again. And again. So even as I write this the players in our US political blame game are already thinking ahead to the next campaign. The next strategy for winning……the blame game. The next “Gotcha!!” along our ever lengthening campaign trail.

We are, I believe, culturally addicted to playing the blame game. And not just the US culture, although we can play it with the best of them; just maybe even better than ancient Rome at the time of Jesus. But it’s a universal human game. Perhaps every culture plays it, and perhaps in every culture we learn to play it even at home. In families. In marriages. As siblings. As human individuals. And we endure all the anger, hurt, and fear that comes alongside it.

And now the good news. Are you ready for some? Finally?

The Christ refuses to play the blame game.

Jesus Christ counters human culture in this way: no more blame, no more shame, no more scapegoats, no more victims, no more punishment, no more death, no more losers. God, the One who always understands us and never accuses and never blames and never punishes us, is so opposed to this sinful game we humans play that he has taken the blame, the shame, the scapegoating, the victimhood, the punishment, the death, the loss for us. Game’s over.

This, my friends, is what the Christ of Christianity is really all about. It’s what the gospel or good news of God’s Kingdom of Heaven come to earth is all about. It’s the opposite of sin. It runs counter to our sinful culture. And our sinful election campaigns in places like 2016 USA.

No more blame game!   Go and sin no more!

So here’s an idea for the Christian Church in 2016 USA. What if………we ran a little experiment and called it the anti-blame game, forming teams that gathered for mutual confession as to when we were last tempted to sin in this way, tempted to pay the blame game? Maybe at home. Work. School. Neighborhood. Facebook. Wherever. When did others play the blame game against us? Can we forgive them instead of retaliating? Can we experience God in that way? The Christ in that way? And what do we need do in order to end that blame game, like God through Christ ended it at the empty tomb we call resurrection? When we get back together as a team, can we celebrate each other’s resurrection in that same way? Can we as a team win this anti-blame game together? With the Christ on our side? 

Please, if you are still reading along, let me close with one final thought. The world today, and especially those who’ve just lost in the 2016 USA election blame game to beat all blame games….it was so YUGE and so successful; yes, this world…….is angry, hurt, scared and so very much in need of the anti-blame game. Only we who can offer the world this new game will be able to offer the real Christ of counter-cultural Christianity.


Eve of destruction? Really?

On this election eve of 2016 when our national psyche has apparently gone into a Level Four hurricane of emotions, some folks anticipating a Level Five upon Wednesday morning’s landfall after the electoral results are official registered, I can recall a song from my youth. It was written in mid-1964 by P.F. Sloan, who was personally bothered by the idea of the Republican Presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater, coming into possession of the U.S. nuclear codes. Sloan named his song, “The Eve of Destruction.” See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntLsElbW9Xo to find the original recording by Barry McGuire’s set to a 2008 YouTube.

Having just graduated from High School that May of 1964, I really couldn’t get into the whole point of being afraid like P.F. Sloan obviously was. Truth be told, I campaigned for Goldwater that year. So did Hillary Rodham (Clinton), for that matter. Now I look back on this recording at the age of 70 and realize, wow, we were not destroyed after all! Instead, the 1960’s proved very instructive to all who were paying attention. We were given opportunities to learn during that period of our history in a way we might not otherwise have been able to. Crises have a way of doing that. They provide us with dangerous opportunities. And we get to choose whether to see these as dangerous eves of destruction or as opportune eves of instruction.

My choice today is to focus on tomorrow’s critical USA election as a teachable moment in history, much like those many of us have used to survive if not thrive in the past. I tell you, friends, we’re on the eve of instruction.

Perhaps the top item on today’s instructional list may be the task of loving our enemies after the election is over. There is every likelihood this election will result in something close to half our nation’s electorate being viewed as “enemies” after all results are in. That’s a lot of enemies to have to love, no matter which side of the political or social spectrum one falls on. Very roughly speaking, half of America’s citizens will be afraid to trust the other half starting tomorrow. That goes for Christians, or at least those who call ourselves Christians despite our reluctance to follow Christ’s teaching to love our enemies. We will have as hard of time loving each other tomorrow as we will any other enemy on earth.

So here’s the challenge on this eve of instruction. It begins with Christians learning to love each other across the spectrum. Means progressives loving conservatives and the like. Christian Democrats loving Christian Republicans. Clinton voters loving Trump voters, and vice versa. If we can do that as Christian enemies after this election, if we can symbolically teach the world to sing in three part harmony as conservatives – moderates – liberals, then this truly will be the eve of instruction for our entire nation and possible world.

The one who can teach us in these teachable moments of 2016 amidst our electoral crisis is, of course, Jesus himself. Jesus not only preached enemy love, but he practiced it. We can learn by watching and then doing what he did in three very basic steps.  

1. Leave what we are doing and go. That’s what Jesus both preached and practiced. Remember his Sermon on the Mount? It contained these words: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). Jesus, before offering his own sacrifice on the cross, practiced going among his own enemies and engaging them in conversation. These included the social outliers of his day such as prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers, Samaritans, Roman soldiers, and more. And they included those within his own Jewish faith such as the Pharisees who thought him too liberal and the Sadducees who thought him too conservative. In fact, by some reports Jesus headed for his fellow religionists first, even instructing his disciples to do the same. Basically, anyone who had something against him received a visit from Jesus as a way of at least offering reconciliation.

2. Listen and ask a lot of questions. Then listen some more. This is how Jesus loved his own enemies. He didn’t make a whole lot of assumptions and he made even fewer accusations about people. A typical example of Jesus loving his enemies by asking questions comes from Matthew 22. Keep in mind that his worst enemies were often the religious leaders of his time.   For example, there is that time when the conservative Pharisees who opposed paying taxes to the government showed him an official Roman coin called the denarius. First thing out of Jesus’s mouth was a question, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” (Matthew 22:20). If you don’t recall the rest of that story, you may feel free to look it up at your own convenience.

Jesus was then confronted by his liberal enemies, the Sadducees, who were opposed to any belief in life after death. They concocted their own little parable of the wife who died after having married seven infertile brothers in obedience to the laws of Moses. Now in heaven, these skeptics wondered, whose wife will she be? To which Jesus replied with his own question, “But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you?” (Matthew 22:31). Only then did Jesus offer up what amounted to a very different interpretation of Jewish scriptures.

3. Try helping instead of pleasing people. Jesus loved his enemies by trying to help them, not please them. If you have experience loving your own children, you will know what I mean here. Sometimes the very things we do trying to help others will displease them most. Yet, we do so anyhow out of love. Again using Matthew’s Gospel as an example, in chapter 21 we read the familiar story of Jesus turning over the money-changers’ tables in the Temple courtyard. “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:12-13). Doubtless, this did not please his enemies. However, what Jesus was urgently trying to do was help them learn the lesson of Jeremiah 7, where God declared through the prophet that the religious leaders of Judah, prior to the destruction of their (first) Temple, had turned it into a “den of robbers” (Jeremiah 7:11). Jesus was trying to help his enemies avoid the destruction of their (second) Temple by the Romans in 70 A.D.

From these three steps as taught by Jesus through various biblical examples involving his own enemies, we find out this truth even on the very eve of this year’s critical election.  The real enemy that love always overcomes is not flesh and blood people, but rather the spiritual powers and principalities we call fear and the very evil that fear spawns.  The real enemy love overcomes is not other people voting for Clinton or Trump or anyone else.  The real enemy is our fear of those other people.   That is what is overcome when we, like Jesus, practice these three essential steps.  

We are living in interesting times of crisis. We have dangerous opportunities ahead after tomorrow’s USA election.  I tell you, fiends, we’re on the eve of instruction!