The Election That Nobody Won
I voted today, and it occurred to me that after all of the voting is complete, nobody wins. Not the politicians, not the voter, and not the nation. Common civility has become both uncommon and uncivil. Truth (as Isaiah says) has stumbled in the streets. Duplicity and bombast rule the day, and self-serving politicians have served themselves.
If the major party candidates mirror the soul of the United States, and they probably do, then we have much more to be concerned about than who might win an election. A nation devoid of morals has little to look forward to other than a free-for-all in which it is every man for themselves.
Democracy is by far and large an honor system; which means then, that it only works as long as there is honor. De Tocqueville did not say it, but whoever did was accurate: “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
The great American experiment will continue to exist only if there are great Americans- Americans who are great because they are good. The corruptions of K Street and Wall Street arise from the corruptions of Main Street. The denizens in the halls of power, however much we dislike them, once lived among us: they represent our true values.
When we jettison the reference point for moral clarity, we descend into chaos. Truth becomes negotiable, honor becomes marketable, and civility becomes optional. The election is not really about two candidates: it is about us, and what we have become. Nobody wins.
There is a road back, but it does not start from the top. It begins with common Americans rediscovering that goodness is necessary for greatness. Truth must not be manipulated; honor must not be bartered; kindness must not be forsaken.
There are several reasons why I am a follower of Christ. But one of those reasons is that apart from the objective moral standard that Christ gives, whoever can manipulate people the best wins. It might work, but it is ugly, and it ends up destroying almost everything that is commendable.
We don’t need to give up on America, but if it is going to be great, then it must also be good. Which means then, that a return to goodness is required, a goodness that is the core of who we are. There is much that needs to be said about defining good, and how we become good. Not all roads are equal.
But for the day, at least, we can agree that greatness lies in goodness. And rediscovering individual goodness is essential for rediscovering national greatness. Our behavior as individuals will determine whether the States are, in fact, going to be united. It will also determine whether America will be great, or descend into disarray. None of us may have won the election, but it may be that the shock of what we have seen will help us regain the soul of our nation.
Bill Jewell 11/08/16