There has been great lamentation from all across the political spectrum about this year’s election. I have felt more sadness and anxiety in regards to this election than any other political event in my lifetime. Of late, though I have come to realize there can be some positive to be found even in the midst of this mess. Here are 6 Positive Results of the 2016 Election Year:
1. Future elections won’t seem so bad. I hope. A few years ago, my area of the country had drought conditions for several years. I no longer stress out every time we go through a dry spell. If we are not looking at hauling water because of dried up ponds or feeding hay in the middle of summer because of dried up pastures, I know it is not so bad. Those years of drought gave me a whole new perspective on weather. This year’s election has given a whole new perspective on politics. Even if I disagree with a candidate's policies on just about everything, if he or she is not a prejudiced, sexist, braggart, intentionally inflaming bigotry and completely unqualified for the position, I will know it could be worse and perhaps not worry quite so much.
2. The importance of fact checking has become clear. With the internet and social media, false information travels quickly and looks just as valid as factual information. “If it looks too good to be true it probably is” or gut reactions of “that can’t possibly be real,” are no longer enough. Information on the internet can look factual and real without having even a passing acquaintance with the truth. It behooves us to fact check before we believe what we read and certainly before we pass it on to others.
3. Our attention has been drawn to fact checking as an ethical responsibility. Fact checking is not just about keeping ourselves appropriately informed. We need to also take a stand against the spreading of misinformation. If we do not take the time to fact check we enable those who spread misinformation in order to influence public opinion and public policy. It is also much more difficult to inflame prejudice against any population if one is forced to deal in facts. Believing anything which comes across our screens, without considering the facts, feeds the bullies of our world.
4. Racism, sexism, and ignorance present in our country have been exposed. To be sure, I have been deeply saddened to hear crude racism come out of the mouths of my fellow citizens and out of the mouths of children as they echo what they hear in their communities and on TV. However, such racism was not born this election cycle. This election has stripped another layer of excuses away, increased awareness and may push us toward addressing the bigotry amongst us.
5. We have had opportunity to consider our partisanship and how far it goes. I have done some soul searching about what I would do if the candidate I would normally support was inflaming prejudice, sexism, and hate. Could I get myself to vote for someone with whom I disagreed on most policy issues in order to take a stand against hate? I hope so. Perhaps I am more likely to do so now that I have been forced to consider such things.
6. Credibility of the Christian faith has taken a huge hit. This may not seem like I should think this a good thing but bear with me. When a large segment of the Christian church chose to support a contempt filled bigot and misogynist for the Republican party’s nomination, any claim to moral high ground for the Christian church was eroded badly to say the least. How is this good? It could serve as a much needed wake up call. This could serve to open our eyes to see that when people outside of the church talk about hypocrisy in the church they are not talking about Christians making mistakes or simply being flawed human beings. They are talking about a deep problem within the Christian church which allows hateful and prejudiced behavior to be justified or even encouraged all while we claim to be guided by love. I may not belong to the part of the church which supported the Republican nominee but the deeper problem is present throughout much, if not all, of the Christian church. There is much conversation and repentance needed and perhaps such will now begin.
I would prefer things had gone differently than they have in our country this election year. But if we have to endure this election, perhaps some good can come from it yet.