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  • Reverend James Squire

Against




If you were asked to summarize the insurrection in one word, what would it be? Some possibilities would be voting, constitution, Trump, MAGA, and others. My word would be “against.”


When we consider the events of January 6, 2021 and ask why it happened, very few people would come up with a statement of what the protestors were for. There was no suggestion of new policies or a better way forward. Trump and his allies could only say what they were against, namely, that the election was a clear win for Biden. In fact, to some Republicans stealing the election was a loss of office by the previous president, and not related to any policies that would be better than those of the current administration. Trump is a master of the Big Con and manipulation so he felt safe and comfortable with this style of leadership. It is significant for all intents and purposes that the Republican Party did not put forward their platform at their Convention because there was none. It was easier to agree with the personality politics of Trump.


It drives me crazy when people say he or she was “a born leader.” I have only known leaders who became such because of experiences that they have had. You can’t learn about it in a book although Doris Kearns Goodwin traces the leadership of four extraordinary leaders to underscore my point. Experience creates leaders by the challenges of their times which she recounts in her book, Leadership in Turbulent Times. She describes the distinctive styles of leadership of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.


I have applied what I learned about leadership by watching other leaders and doing what I learned from them. One of my absolutes was you can come to me with a complaint but also come with a possible solution. The other was handling gossip. I would sometimes say, “I hear what you are saying about _____. But why did the person you were talking to about ____feel it was Ok for him or her to have you say that piece of gossip to them?” We know that there are people who collect injustices, but we also know that we have people in our daily life and in the political world of Washington where they know who they can gossip with and who they can’t. It says something about who is always willing to listen to what people are against. It is the reason the Tucker Carlson’s ratings are so high. Our political leaders are getting better and better about this telling a tale about someone or something. Like people slowing down when they see an accident, they can get close to the horror without being part of it.


But there is a larger ethical psychological reason why 70% of Republicans in the nation still believe this lie that threatens our very democracy. I have been involved in several situations recently where people just did not make good choices to help themselves and those around them. This is not solely true in the political realm. If we consider the person that we choose to be our lifetime mate in marriage, we currently have to realize that 50% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. There is some documentation that arranged marriages do better than when we make a choice according to Bruce Y. Lee in an article, “Why People Vote Against Their Own Interests,” in Forbes.


I think that there is a correlation between the marriage statistic in our country and the political partisan issues that threaten us to end in “constitutional divorce.” So, what can we learn from our current political challenges, voting, and divorce in the United States?


A big question that has rolled around in my psyche and soul is why do poor working class people vote for Trump who is the very embodiment of stiffing the working man whenever he could regarding payment for their labors. Shouldn’t the working class be first in line to vote against Trump and vote for someone who will narrow the gap between the ultra- rich and the poor?


Lee’s point in his article in Forbes is that people prefer it simple and straight forward, and they don’t necessarily know what they really want. However, they do know what they are against. They voted for Trump because he had simple answers to complex problems. Immigration problems? I will build a wall. How did that work out? Trump was also against the establishment in Washington, and he would be against them. His platform would be against everything they stood for including draining the swamp. A great many people in our nation agreed with that conclusion. In essence, people don’t always know what they want. They see more clearly what they don’t want.


When you are against something, you don’t have to do the hard work of being for something. That requires effort and usually not much fame which is not good for a narcissistic personality.


Maybe the high divorce rate is because people don’t know their wants and expectations when common sense says that they should. They will be spending a lifetime together so know what you want and what you expect in the relationship. For example, take a certain clergy person in a premarital session. The woman is from a small family and indicated in the session that she wanted four or five children. The man was from a large family and, for whatever reason, he didn’t want children at all. You could hear the silence of discomfort in the office for a country mile. This was a basic question. Both had strong feelings about raising children or not. They couldn’t move beyond the “gridlock” of their wants and expectations. They were told to go home and see if they could work out this discrepancy of childrearing expectations and then come back to work through their issues. The clergyman never heard from them again.


The clergyman wasn’t given the opportunity to help them through their issues. He knew only what they were against. I hope and pray that our elected leaders in Washington can share with our nation what they are for because it isn’t becoming too clear what they want, beyond power and prestige, to make the citizens of our land enjoy the full benefits of “we the people.” Hence, we are a nation divided.


The same underlying dynamic in a potential marriage that causes gridlock is the same dynamic underlying gridlock in Washington. Let’s agree with what you are “for” balanced with what we know what you are “against.”

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