Putting America First is a Vote for Hate

The kingdom of God makes for terrible national policy.

Plenty of people have a good reason to vote for Donald Trump. They're called the working class.

Blue collar folks--the under-paid, under-appreciated, multi-generational backbone of America--fear for their livelihoods as foreign outsourcing continually puts their jobs in jeopardy. They're bitter and disillusioned with the nation that once relied on them but has now discarded their memory for increased profit margins. They love this country and they hate that they feel betrayed by it.

Enter the savior, Donald Trump. The man who will put America first and make America great again.

Trump won a significant number of hearts and minds by turning the working class against the rest of the world. Rather than address corporate practices that he himself has utilized, he claimed that foreign nations were exploiting our trade agreements while polluting our fair land with job-stealing rapists and jihadists. Essentially, he created an enemy to hate.

Donald Trump is an agitator who bastardized conservatism by making it synonymous with xenophobia. On television, he says all the things that heartland Americans might think about Mexicans and Muslims but are too afraid to say. He calls bigotry boldness and discretion weakness, and he incites his supporters to do the same.

From the vantage point of a typical middle-class desk jockey like me, it would be easy to lump all Trump supporters into one big camp of contempt. However, few people are hateful for hate's sake. Most are just hateful because that's the default human response to insecurity and threats.

Sure, the KKK genuinely loathe black skin, but the average racist is more likely to hate a black person for being lazy or violent. Untrue as that is, it identifies the source of such utilitarian hatred as the priority of the self.

Paying taxes that support folks on welfare affects me. Avoiding a street corner controlled by gangs affects me. Having to consider these things makes me angry because I can no longer focus solely on myself; now I have to consider others.

When the Bible speaks of hatred, it is not as a hostile emotion but as a lack of affection. The Greek word for hate, miseo, actually means "to love less". It's no coincidence that the law commanded to not just love our neighbors but to love them as ourselves. According to Scripture, love considers others equally while hate considers them less.

The apostle John clarifies that love and hate are manifested in action--in our care of lack of it towards others. Feelings of prejudice and disdain toward different races and religions are despicable, but they're just feelings. When Jesus equated hate with murder, he made resisting care for certain manifestations of God's image the same as desecrating it.

Donald Trump's bigoted words are not the problem. It's that he's made selfishness and hate American virtues. If we put America first, we're putting humanity second. We're putting God second. 

The family fleeing San Pedro Sula may be here illegally, but they're only trying to protect themselves from a city whose murder rate makes Chicago look like Disneyland. No, it's not convenient to consider their hardships while your tax dollars help ease their stay, but we're called to love people just like them to the point of sacrifice. If Jesus can give up his life for you, a law-breaker squatting in an unearned kingdom, you can certainly spare a few pennies from your paycheck.

But America doesn't want you to think that way. Republicans and Democrats alike both know that nations rise (and fall) on the selfish premise of us first and others second. And they'll do everything they can to convince that your duty to country fulfills your duty to humanity. 

So tomorrow, you'll be asked to vote for America--its interests and its desires. Which means you have a choice: a vote for hate or a vote for love. You get to choose between what America wants and what God wants. Make no mistake, they're not the same thing.

Remember that when you cast your vote. And remember where your citizenship lies.

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photo credit: DonkeyHotey Election 2016 via photopin (license)