I have decided that what is making me the most frustrated/sad/fearful about this election for president is not which candidate wins, but the incredible power being given to a single person and a single election.
Do you know what I dislike more than our selection of candidates? US. Not US as in United States, but US as in you and me—”We the People.” We the people who have allowed “them,” whether it’s the candidates, the media, or one another via social media, to divide us. “United we stand” has a pretty scary corollary: Divided we fall. If we allow this election to divide us, then that is on “us,” not “them.”
I have realized in this election, more than ever, I am not a Republican, I am not a Democrat, I am not a Libertarian; I am a person. I am a person who loves other people. I do not agree philosophically with everyone, but I love everyone. And I refuse to allow an election, or a POTUS or a SCOTUS or any external entity to tell me to hate because the person I didn’t vote for got elected, or the person I didn’t approve of got appointed.
I don’t see the issues that divide us changing anytime soon, but I see myriad opportunities for all of us to change, in how we speak about candidates and the issues, and in how we speak to one another—face to face and online. I’m going to start with how I speak about our new president, regardless of who it is. In fact, I have a letter ready to send to our president-elect on the day after the election.
Letter to the new president
Dear New President,
Congratulations. You have won the election. I’m sure you are glad that it’s over, and possibly terrified, too, having just signed on to one of the biggest jobs on Planet Earth.
I want you to know that I will be praying for you. I love the United States of America and have felt honored my whole life to be one of its citizens. I don’t take that for granted and feel the weight of its privilege. I also feel the weight of my individual responsibility as a citizen to contribute to this country’s success.
In my neighborhood and among my friends and family, I know people who voted for you, and I know people who did not. Today some of these friends are rejoicing and some of these friends feel like they have lost everything. With all due respect, I do not give you that much power. The world has seen your flaws and heard your secrets and I know you are as human as the rest of us.
Now that you are going to serve as president, my prayer for you is that you will be protected and kept safe. I pray that you will be moved with compassion by the plight of the people of this country who have lost hope for so many reasons and work to restore their faith in this nation and in your office.
I am praying for those who you need to work with to get things done. I am ardently praying for those on the “other side” who are already gearing up for battle. I am praying that they will stop and think about our nation’s need for unity, and choose to work with you.
Dear President, I hope you see that your victory is not a mandate of any kind–it can’t be if half the country is in mourning at your victory. I pray you will choose to take your first year to recognize that what we need more than anything is healing. I pray that you see you have not really won, and will not succeed, if the next four years is a continued path toward those who did not support you feeling like they have no voice. That is not what America is about.
I confess that in my adult years, depending on who was president, I have often been swept into partisan politics in such a way that I have gone against an important teaching my wise parents tried to impart: you respect the office of the President of the United States no matter who holds it. With this election I have made a firm decision that I am going to return to that teaching and do my best to teach this to my children.
I commit to you that I will not speak ill of you in the next four years. I may write to you if I am concerned about a direction, and I hope you will hear and respectfully consider voices that aren’t in line with a party agenda. But I will not disrespect you.
I pray that you will respect all of the American people, not just those who voted for you. I pray that you will protect the rights of all Americans to hold beliefs that are dear to them, and be cautious about sweeping change that gives a “victory” for one ideology that can only come by silencing another.
Dear President, I wrote this letter on October 20, before the results were known. I am not sending it to you because I voted for you or I didn’t. I am sending it to you because you are my president now, and I am your citizen. I submit to your authority, and plead that you will respect the authority of the people of the United States who are looking for you to LEAD all of us, not just some of us.
Please represent us well on the world stage. Will you please show the world that this nation is still great and its people are still good? Will you respect other nations and leaders, even if you disagree with them?
Will you help us teach our children how to approach problems and disagreements through civil discourse? Will you encourage leaders at all levels of government to resist bullying one another, so that I may teach my children not to bully and have them believe why it’s important?
I have heard that leaders are paid in pounds, based on the weight of responsibility they carry. I can’t imagine a leader on the planet who gets paid more pounds than the President of the United States. My prayer is that you can unite us in such a way that the citizens themselves are not added burdens to you. My prayer is that we citizens will start growing up and remembering that we are Americans first, and after that whatever label we choose to identify as ours politically.
Thank you for choosing to bear this weight. I know you probably won’t receive many letters like this, although I wish you would. I promise to speak up when I hear people vilifying you or disrespecting the office you hold.
I promise to pray for you regularly because I agree with what we profess to the world on our currency: in God we trust. I trust that God has placed you in this office, and I pray He will use you for His good purposes for this country and its people.
Whether they read it or not
Of course, I’m sure my letter will not likely be seen by the new POTUS. But I am still going to send it. I really wrote it because I needed to be reminded of those things. And I am still going to ask for God’s help in doing my part of praying for and respecting the new president.
I do wonder what might happen if We the People started acting like we want our leaders to act, and if we let our leaders know that we expect them to behave.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Are you ready to support the new POTUS regardless of who it is? Do you agree that if we could unite around what unites us, rather than push harder on those things that divide us, we would all be better off? Is it really too late for the U.S. to regain some civility and world leadership? Respectful sharing of thoughts about these things is welcome here.
Thanks for walking on the UpSide with me today,