It has been more than a month now and our nation is still reeling from the deeply divisive presidential campaign. It seems that for every cabinet nomination the president-elect makes there is a new theory about why he won though he clearly should have lost: racism, FBI, Evangelical hypocrisy, third party-candidates, electoral college, voter fraud, media bias, fake news, hacking…the list will continue to grow.
As disappointing as both the major party candidates were, it was not their personalities or pitfalls that were at issue, but something much more fundamental: their political philosophies, their policies, and their respective parties’ platforms. Both candidates garnered support in spite of themselves, not because they were the best players but because of the team for which they were playing, and what was at stake. It was (and is) really a battle between two worldviews, the religiously held beliefs of both the secularists and the traditionalists.
In short, secularists believe that the natural world is all there is; science is the only reliable authority on what is real and rational; therefore, our DNA determines our identity; so, the ultimate ethic is to be true to oneself; and, therefore, the worst evil is to call someone’s conception of themselves into question (translation: hate).
Traditionalists maintain the understanding that a human being is a unity of a (material) body and a (immaterial) soul with a moral accountability to the Creator; that we are not subject to science, but reason and science, along with philosophy and theology, serve us as tools in our quest for truth; therefore, we are free to follow our conscience and determine our character by the choices we make; so, the ultimate ethic is to deny oneself to serve others; and, therefore, the worst affront is to dishonor God, family, or country through immoral, selfish, or criminal behavior.
Secularists have been working hard to eliminate the traditional worldview from public discourse and revise our national narrative. They have a dream that one day we would all be able to put irrational, unscientific, outdated, bigoted, and downright dangerous backward-thinking behind us–along with the incendiary rhetoric–and be able to live in an inclusive society where everyone (except traditionalists) are free to follow their hearts without fear or judgement. This, of course, cannot be accomplished by merely political means. Judging by the reaction to the presidential election, it seems clear that the American secularists, through education, entertainment, and media, have been successfully insulating young minds from divergent worldviews and have somehow stymied their ability to even fathom a traditional mindset. They have inculcated among our youth a default mentality of, among other things, inclusion (disregard any notions you may have about good, bad, right, wrong, or anything otherwise judgmental), diversity (oppose “bigots” by any means), scientific skepticism (accept current mainstream scientific opinions as settled, true and binding, and reject descent), and dialogue (trivialize, marginalize, or demonize those outside of secular orthodoxy).
Traditionalists, on the other hand, imagine a country characterized by mutual respect, where people are free to do what is right, and where men and women of all backgrounds can openly dialogue about their expertise, beliefs, opinions, and concerns, and debate the merits thereof without fear of repercussion.
Whose vision of America will win the day? Must one win at the expense of the other, or do we just live with the tension between the two? Are they mutually exclusive, or is there some common ground?
While the secularists (And others. I know this is a huge generalization; it’s much more complicated than that on both sides) are in shock and trying to make sense of the unthinkable, the traditionalists are relieved, knowing for some time now that they could not take their views for granted despite being the statistical majority. Though they would have preferred a more palatable player to go up to bat for them (and many did not personally cast a vote for him), at least they feel they are in the game again. It remains to be seen whether their batter will strike out or score, both for them and the American people.