In my Ash Wednesday meditation, I admitted that I wasn’t all that good at spiritual discipline, or even following through on a particular Lenten practice, but my hope this Lent was to do two things: to be more kind to my family, and to learn more about the people who support Donald Trump is his campaign for the presidency.
As I understand it, one option for a Lenten practice is to do something that is not sustainable for the long haul. I do hope that I will carry on a greater effort at kindness for my family; so far, it has been delightful and not too trying.
And learning more about the supporters of Donald Trump has been interesting and thought provoking. And a little depressing. Here’s what I have gleaned: that his supporters tend to be white, male, and blue collar workers with not much education past high school, if that. There is nothing wrong with being a white male, or a blue collar worker, or having ended formal education at high school. Some of the people I love most dearly in the world fit in those categories.
What is hard about all of this is realizing that I don’t know most of these people, that I don’t run in any of the same circles that they do, therefore I have little chance of changing their minds. Because I would really like to change their minds. I have this romantic little fantasy that if we could just sit down and talk and have a rational conversation, I could show them that Donald Trump will not bring back what they have lost, or what they think they have lost.
Yet reason will not prevail, I fear. My hunch is that their support of Mr. Trump comes from a deep place of anger and loss that may have begun when Barack Obama was elected president but probably began decades before that.
Still, Jesus calls me to reach out to those on the margins, and I think the supporters of Donald Trump feel that they have been on the margins of the American Dream for too long. I would argue with that, but am I called to argue or to listen?
In the end, I am comforted that Donald Trump only has one vote, and I only have one vote, and I know I will not use it for him. Lent will end soon, but I suspect I will continue to read about this presidential race and the candidates and their supporters. I suspect, too, that I will not find much hope in any of that.
I find my hope elsewhere. I am ready for Lent to be done and for Easter to arrive.