As a country, we are coming off a presidential election that has consumed much of our attention for a long time. A very. Long. Time.
It’s been so long that many of us may have forgotten what it’s like to live without the constant feed of political drama. Like our favorite Netflix binge, we can’t help but watch one more episode.
But at some point, the conclusion had to come. The election day arrived, votes were counted, and even that unfolded in a dramatic style befitting 2020.
So now, roughly half of American voters are happy, and half are disappointed. But such was the inevitable result regardless of who walked away with the most electoral votes.
Here are five reflections that might help us to live life after the election no matter how we voted.
1. There is life outside of politics.
In a world where even minor, apolitical issues inexplicably turn bitter and partisan, we should be reminded that seeing everything divided along party lines is not only unhelpful, but often not even true.
In the last 12 months, whether or not you wear a mask, support racial equality, appreciate law enforcement, or even where you eat your chicken sandwich aligns you with a political ideology. But not everything is a partisan issue.
Now that the election is over, take some time to enjoy the apolitical parts of life by keeping them apolitical. You might consider limiting or even completely cutting out any political news for the remainder of the year. I promise it’ll still be there for you when you return.
2. Elections are not a zero-sum game for citizens.
It’s true that in an election, one person wins and another loses. However, once an election is over, the newly elected officials are supposed to serve their entire constituency.
In a democracy, there shouldn’t be winners and losers among the citizenry. If the candidate you voted for won, you don’t get extra privileges for their term. If the candidate you voted for didn’t win, you don’t need to stew over it until the next election. You can still live, work, serve your community, and pray for those in office no matter if you voted for them or not (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
3. Loving your neighbor is better than being right.
Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor (Mark 12:30-31). Unfortunately, the commandment to prove your neighbor wrong didn’t make the list.
You might have a friend, coworker, or neighbor with whom you have significant political disagreements. It might be hard to move on from things you’ve seen them post on social media. Frankly, they might say the same thing about your posts. But the gospel compels us to lay aside those differences, be reconciled, and find ways to serve others. Instead of getting into a debate or distancing yourself from them, seek opportunities to love them.
If you’ve filled your social media timeline will political posts in the last six months, go reread some of them. Do your posts show a heart of love for your neighbor or a desire to be right? Ask yourself if God might be calling you to humbly and possibly publicly repent.
4. We have more in common than we think.
The media portrays the political divide as a bitter battle between values diametrically opposed to one another. We tend to buy into that narrative because extremes are easier and more convenient than nuance. Nuance requires actually talking to someone and having a genuine conversation.
The truth is, your neighbor with a differing political ideology likely holds dear most of same things that you do. Finding common ground, shared values and beliefs, and mutual interests is far easier than you might think, especially if you don’t make everything political.
So, make friends with people different from you. Invite someone over for a socially distanced dinner. Reject the cynicism of the age and seek to rebuild your trust in humanity.
5. The gospel does what no government or elected official can do.
It’s easy to fall victim to the lie that life and death hang in the balance in an election. If your hope and your identity is wrapped up in a candidate or a political party, you will be sorely let down, especially if your candidate or party wins.
I said that correctly.
I’ve always been intrigued by stories of celebrities or extremely wealthy individuals who remark that the fame and fortune they devoted their lives to doesn’t satisfy the deepest longings of their hearts. In fact, they only serve to highlight a greater need for what can’t been earned — acceptance and love.
Whether it’s fame, fortune, or political victories this is true for anything we set up as a god in our hearts.
If a political victory is your greatest aim, you will likely be disappointed by your candidate or party. Even if they win, they cannot give you what your heart ultimately needs. Public policy can do a lot of good things, but it cannot save humanity from our brokenness. It’s only through faith in Jesus does God restore our relationship to him and reconciles us to one another. Your hope and your identity must be rooted in the gospel of grace.
Politicians will come and go. Put your faith in the God who will never let you down and is always in power.