Culture, Science & Faith

2016: A Rebirth of Hope

The election refreshed our nation, but true hope isn't in politicians.

Michael Swartz · Dec. 23, 2016

Let’s face it: Over its first 10 months, 2016 didn’t have a whole lot going for it. We lost a few beloved Americans, endured a number of tragedies both here and abroad, and — first and foremost — suffered through a political campaign that turned out to be between two major-party candidates with record disapproval ratings. But a funny thing happened after November 8: Most Americans felt more positive again.

It’s understandable to be skeptical regarding this assertion given the need of Millennial snowflakes to seek out safe spaces for rebuilding their self-esteem with coloring books and Play-Doh in the wake of the election. Or when James Fallows, an author and former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, now calls the election of Donald Trump “the most grievous blow that the American idea has suffered in my lifetime.”

And who could forget First Lady Michelle Obama, who famously opined eight years ago, “For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.” On her way out the door she’s singing a different tune, telling Oprah Winfrey, “See, now we’re feeling what not having hope feels like, you know.” Honestly, we think it has less to do with the fact Mrs. Obama won’t be able to spend another $5 million in taxpayer money to enjoy the holidays in sunny Hawaii and more to do with being forced to watch her husband’s legacy dismantled by the president-elect who lost the aggregate popular vote by 2.5 million. The Left assumed they’d thought of everything, but it was that pesky Electoral College that tripped them up and demolished their “firewall.”

Yet once you get away from the East and West coasts, tune out the mainstream media, and re-introduce yourself to the “flyover country” forgotten by everyone except candidate Donald Trump over the last decade or so, you’ll find there is now a lot of optimism. Despite the fact they had little in common with him, people in the heartland seemed to believe Trump had their best interests at heart — even if they were reticent to admit it. Somewhere in the last eight years, these common folk figured out that the outgoing president — a man for whom they are now practically counting the hours until he leaves — wasn’t doing as he pledged, which was to maintain their hope and deliver the change they sought, even when they grudgingly gave him a second chance. Instead, Barack Obama had his own bright ideas, which they realized in retrospect weren’t so bright after all.

So these last two months of 2016 have been a minuscule “era of good feelings,” with the Dow Jones reaching new heights, GDP growth and the unemployment rate declining — including a significant burst of hiring in the construction industry that’s a harbinger of better times ahead. As one observer put it, the incoming Trump team “wants to, and probably will, shift the environment from one that makes profit makers villains with limited power to one that makes them heroes with significant power.” Suddenly it’s cool to have pride in America, and to root for it to be great once again.

We shouldn’t forget, though, that America has put its hope in a president many times before only to be disappointed and disheartened. It’s way too easy to use Barack Obama or Jimmy Carter as examples of this, as neither of them addressed, let alone solved, an existing national disillusionment with the economy or with politics in general. But we can’t forget that it took Ronald Reagan, who most of us remember fondly for his time in office, many months to hit his stride, too. In his first midterm election, which was conducted at the tail end of a sharp recession that hit months after Reagan took office, the GOP lost 26 House seats, leaving them with just 166 vs. 269 for the Democrats. So even this Trump bubble could burst in time, too.

Yet if there’s one thing a lot of these forgotten Americans who make up the population of backwater towns like Salisbury, Meridian, Minot, or (the aptly-named) Defiance have in common, it’s a faith in something larger than a mere man — especially a politician.

This Christmas season comes as a good reminder and invitation to, as a nation, renew our faith in and relationship with our Creator, just as His Son was born on Christmas to reconcile lost sinners with God. That renewal — not one election cycle — will bring true hope.

So, from all of us in our humble shop, Merry Christmas!

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