As I am writing this on Wednesday night, the election results are not conclusive. I am not sure if you will have the results by the time you read this, but no matter the outcome, all will agree that this was an unusual election, but all for the wrong reasons. We saw the disintegration of public discourse to nothing more than lies on Twitter and decency being replaced by name-calling.
A couple of days ago, I heard on NPR an interview of Aaron Sorkin, the West Wing writer, the show I enjoyed tremendously. I really appreciated his political insight, along with some excellent writing. The interview was about his new movie, The Trial of the Chicago Seven, the people who were tried for the protest that turned violent at the ’68 Democratic Convention in Chicago.
As I watched the movie, I thought I was watching the 2020 election. It was no different than the 1968 election: the idealism of young people was met with tear gas, police brutally beating non-violent protesters with their batons, counter-protesters saying, “America love it or leave it,” and a biased legal system that had no regard for fairness or justice. The maleficence of the judge was only matched by the disrespect for the court demonstrated by those on trial. However, for me, the movie ultimately was asking whether they should be fighting for political change or cultural change. This was magnificently portrayed through the philosophical difference between two main characters, Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden.
I came to conclude that we must work for both changes. We must work to ensure that the laws are just and equitable because we have seen the Constitution's errors that cemented the cultural error of racism into political error or systemic racism. We have also seen the cultural error of prohibition made into a political error through the 18th Amendment and had to be corrected by the 21st Amendment.
The laws can be changed, and so can the hearts of the people. Therefore, as people of faith, we cannot lose heart nor become complacent, depending on the election outcome. Politicians are just that, politicians. They occupy the office, but ultimately, they answer to people.
This means we need to recognize that the problem is not with Washington, but with us. We must be well informed of the issues before our representatives and continue to engage and make the politicians answer to the people. Democracy depends on it.
Let us work for cultural and political change.