An Open Letter to My American Friends

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 I am grateful to have so many friends: childhood friends, church friends and Christian friends (some of whom are both), college and seminary friends (one of whom is both), bluegrass friends, flyfishing friends, facebook friends… This letter is to my American friends.

I Voted

So if you are an American, and if you are my friend, I have two requests of you:

1. Vote Today

We live in one of the greatest democracies that has ever existed. It is designed to be a representative democracy. Citizens of this country have the privilege of deciding who will make laws, set policy, and guide our country into its strongest future. Exercise your right, and make your voice heard. If you haven’t voted early, make sure to get to the polls today, no matter how inconvenient it might be for you.

2. Act Like U. S. Citizens 

I have been following the pundits constantly for weeks, and I honestly don’t know how this year’s presidential election is going to turn out. The Democrats may take it. The Republicans may take it. There is even a long-shot possibility that it may go to the House of Representatives. But most likely one candidate will receive enough support tonight to have more than 270 votes in the electoral college, and on January 20, 2017 will become our President. Our president.

Act like a U.S. Citizen.

This means it is time to stop acting like partisans, and time to start acting like U. S. citizens.

So hold your breath all evening today, as the results trickle in. And if you need to, crow a bit or whine a bit tomorrow. But by Thursday, it is time to pray for our president elect, and demand that all of our legislators — those we may have supported and those we may have opposed — get down to the hard, complicated, messy work of leading this country into its most faithful and productive future.

And to those of you who are and/or will be serving in the legislative or executive branches of our federal government: do your job. If the American people decide to elect all Democrats or all Republicans, feel free to act in a fiercely partisan matter. Don’t compromise. Hold to your principles. Overcome those who disagree with you. Take this country in the direction the voters have empowered you to take it.

But if Democrats and Republicans are elected in relatively equal numbers, your job is to work together to represent us all, as you set the agenda for this country’s future. Our country thrives when we take into consideration the best ideas from the left and the best ideas from the right, and discover ways to move forward together. This is how our founders designed the system, and many of us expect you to live into this ideal. Propose, debate and pass a federal budget. Deal honestly and seriously with issues like immigration, health care, national security, the economy, the environment, human rights and international relationships. Hold votes on nominees for Supreme Court vacancies. Speak your minds clearly, and spend an equal amount of time listening to those whose vision for our country differs from yours. You will discover that in working together you can lead us to a much better place than if you spend the majority of your time trying to score points with your most ardent supporters.

And just for extra measure: take at least 36 months before you begin to demonize one another and weaken our country again. We’ve given you the chance to serve — it’s the least you can do — it’s what adults do.

These are critical times, and our nation faces many challenges. These challenges will not be met unless all of us, elected and non-elected, learn how to work together with honesty, integrity and courage. Each of us plays a role in this.

If you are my friends, you know what to do.