I Wasn’t Just Wrong About @RealDonaldTrump. I Was Wrong About America.

What is something that you thought you knew, but turned out to be completely wrong about? This is one of the many glorious segments featured on my new, favorite podcast, Make Me Smart, featuring the hosts from APM’s Marketplace radio broadcast, Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood. On the February 7th edition of their new show, the hosts posed this question to Gloria Calderon Kellet, the co-creator of the rebooted series on Netflix, “One Day at a Time.”

For her answer to the question, Kellet described an experience related to her failed presidential election party wherein she and her friends gathered to witness what they believed would be the election the first woman President. As we all know, Hillary Clinton did not win, and Kellet says that her and her friends’ election-night bewilderment was a symptom of the problem of living and breathing in what she described as an “echo chamber” that merely reflected her own Progressive political beliefs back at her. She “knew” Clinton would win, and yet was shockingly wrong in this “knowledge.” We might also describe this metaphorically as being in a bubble wherein she only heard, saw, and read exactly what she wanted to, which, in this case, led her to “know” something that was completely wrong. Because the vast majority of her friends and social media contacts are forward-leaning when it comes to politics, Kellet said that she came to think and feel what everyone else in her circle was thinking and feeling. As a byproduct, she also began to presume that this held true for the majority of the electorate. It didn’t. In retrospect, Kellet realized that she had become profoundly unaware of what was happening in other parts of the country, especially in so-called Trump Territory. Her takeaway was that she, as well as the rest of her fellow citizens (Democratic and Republican), need to make efforts at rising out of their own echo-chambers to take a close look at what is happening elsewhere, as well as at what different-minded people are thinking.

Of course Ms. Kellet is right. We ought not surround ourselves with proverbial Yes-Men who only show and tell exactly what we want to see and hear. We absolutely need to be in authentic and polite conversations with those who have different perspectives and worldviews. We must practice active listening with others rather than merely waiting for our turn to speak, and perhaps most importantly, we must be able to say, “I understand,” before we can ever begin to say, “I disagree.”  I try to embody this as best as I can (at least in my better moments). Sadly, this is not the standard in our nut-ball political culture. Not even close. I don’t need to go into details with anyone who has spent anytime at all on the web or dared to read any of the entries in any given “comments” section. If you’re reading this blog entry  chances are good that you already know something serious is amiss with our ability to listen and effectively engage in civil discourse.

Be that as it may, I only partially agree with Ms. Kellet’s assessment. Of course we need to do better at hearing the opposition when it comes to things like religion and politics (especially when politics IS our religion), but it was neither my own political echo-chamber nor my ignorance of the Trump contingency that led to my bewilderment on the eve of the 2016 presidential election. Of course I had underestimated the shear volume of Trump’s supporters, but the horror I experienced that night was not because I had blocked out the insanity of Fox News, surrounded myself with Progressives, or had dared to put confidence in the website predictions from Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com. Of course each of these moves reinforced my convictions that Clinton would win, but they were not the source of those convictions themselves. Nor was it my belief that Liberal political values are generally better aligned with my followership and understanding of Jesus and that progressive politics generally has the weight of justice and care for “the least of these” behind it. Again, these things helped reinforce my belief that Clinton would win, but they were not the source of that conviction.

No. The true source of my belief regarding the outcome of the election had almost nothing to do with my political leanings but rather my faith in humanity itself. I was so convinced that people, if they were paying any attention at all, would recognize who and what Donald Trump actually was, and that they would intuitively know that he was unfit to lead a high school girl’s basketball team, much less usurp the role of Commander in Chief. I dared to make the mistake of believing that it’s not how much money one has or what a person can build or buy or say that counts, but rather the content of one’s character and their commitment to the truth. Time after time after time, @RealDonaldTrump revealed himself to have unspeakably horrible character and a zealous willingness to engage in pathological lying whenever it suited his purposes. He would literally say anything, out of both sides of his mouth (pending the respective audiences), and then not even bother trying to conceal his duplicity. He proved to be a racist, a sexist, and a cheat who preyed upon anyone and everyone who gave him opportunity. He would insult and demonize anyone, including his political rivals, immigrants, women, the disabled, and especially any judges, investigative reporters, and journalists who dared to call Trump’s lies and generally horrible behavior into question. In light of all this (and more), I thought to myself, “There is no way anyone who values truth, character, and integrity could ever vote for Trump.” I believed that whatever else we might’ve been tempted to say about Hillary’s questionable use of a private email server, there was simply no comparison between that gaff, which she ultimately took ownership of, and Trump’s never-ending onslaught of excrement, deceit, and general moral turpitude. In short, I thought I knew that most Americans, regardless of their respective affiliations, were people who valued integrity and honesty, and certainly that they valued these more than a political candidate who would flagrantly spurn them. Oh how mistaken I was.

The lasting and unsettling sting I continue to feel in the post Trump-election is not just because I was wrong about who I believed would win the Office of the President, but because I was wrong about America. I have lost a lot of faith in my fellow Americans, at least around 50 Million of them, and all the more so when a majority of these folks would likely call themselves “Christians,” people who at the very least are supposed to be defined by their commitments to truth and love of their neighbors. So my hope has taken a major hit as well. Christian or not, when honesty, integrity, and accountability no longer matter, we are in very, very deep trouble, regardless of who happens to be in the White House.

Thanks for reading me,



About C_Lambeth

I currently live in the Pacific Northwest. I graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor's of Science and from George Fox Seminary (now Portland Seminary) with a Master's of Divinity. In addition to knowing Christ and helping others know him, I am passionate about peace, the environment, Christian feminism, justice for all (not just the wealthy) and being a lifelong learner. Please feel free to comment on any of the posts here or to suggest new posts altogether. Thank you for reading me! -CL
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4 Responses to I Wasn’t Just Wrong About @RealDonaldTrump. I Was Wrong About America.

  1. Jim L. says:

    Could you please explain how you see your Christianity relating to the Democratic position on abortion? You said that your “Liberal political values are generally better aligned with followership and understanding of Jesus,” but I don’t see how when it comes to this issue. Do you think murdering babies is something Jesus would advocate?

  2. C_Lambeth says:

    Hi, Jim. Thank you for your questions. Irrespective of the abortion issue, I said that the Democratic platform better aligns with my Christian values. This does not mean that they are one and the same. I don’t think Jesus is/ would be a Democrat any more than I think he is/would be a Republican, but I am also convinced that Progressive / Democratic values are more in-line with Jesus because they are more pro-life than are those of their Republican counterparts. Of course “life” includes the womb (which is a legitimate concern when it comes to abortion), but life also extends well beyond it. Yes, Republicans are against abortion, but since they are typically pro-war, pro-gun, pro-death penalty, anti-environment, anti-government assistance, anti-immigrant, anti-corporate accountability, anti-healthcare, and anti-reality (at least when it comes to climate change), calling them “Pro-Life” is absolutely ridiculous. As a Christian, I am pro-life (in all its forms) which means I am against platforms and policies that harm life. Hence, when it comes to the GOP or Democrats, I side with the latter. This blog entry may help answer additional questions on this topic: Yes We Can (Be Christian and Vote Democrat)

    But yes, abortion would seem to go against my support of Progressive values and candidates. If you are interested, I’ve devoted a more involved discussion and commentary here: Birth Control Part Deux For the moment, however, I’ll answer your question regarding murder. I’m sure you won’t find this to be very convincing, but you’ve misstated the Democratic position on this issue. We don’t advocate murder. Legally speaking, abortion is simply not murder. Of course it gets complicated the closer a potential mother gets to term, but there is no legal question that unborn fetuses are not “babies.” I don’t precisely know when a legally or biologically sound argument could be made that draws a distinction about fetuses that say, “At this point they are an ‘it,’ but at this point they are a ‘they,’ but it is pretty clear to me that a fertilized egg at 2-days is not a “baby” in any sense of the word. I personally think the same could be said at a month or three months, and anything before 6 or perhaps even 7 months is not viable outside the womb at all without a lot of invasive surgeries and life-support. It’s just a much more complicated issue than just about everyone on the Republican side of things is willing to admit, and that’s a problem for me.

    At any rate, even if I could be convinced that all abortions at all times are the moral equivalent of murder, until the GOP starts caring as much for the already-born as they claim to care for the un-born, I’ll be voting Left.

    Thanks again for the question, Jim.

  3. Martin says:

    You make it sound like all of us who were proud Trump voters are racist liars. You don’t have a clue.

  4. C_Lambeth says:

    Martin, I don’t necessarily think that all Trump supporters are racists and liars. However, I am having difficulty discerning the difference between being a racist liar, and “proudly” voting for one. I freely admit my cluelessness at that point. Maybe you can clear it up for me?

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