One of the difficult and sad responsibilities that falls to counselors such as my wife, Anna, and myself is working with victims of domestic violence. We share that difficult task with law enforcement, with the exception that these cases can be some of the most dangerous calls they answer. Ours is not so much dangerous as sad.
Domestic violence can have several shapes and components, but one of the most dangerous happens when one spouse (often the woman) has had enough. She moves out with the children to another place of safety (shelter, family home or new residence), separates and then files for divorce. Some of these separations and divorces end badly and there is no real protection for the victim. Protective orders and restraining orders have little teeth for the victim if the abuser chooses to ignore them. Such violations can end in death for the ex-spouse and even the children. It is tragic.
Why is that? The divorced spouse, the rejected lover, is unwilling to believe the person he controlled and often abused has slipped away from him. His already volatile anger boils over into rage against not himself but the one who rejected him. Many, many times it does not end well.
It is not surprising, perhaps, that I find this experience not too different from what is playing out in our national politics today, particularly regarding the results of the presidential election. On the one hand is a legally chosen president-elect, Joe Biden, and on the other hand, an angry incumbent, Donald Trump, who has been sowing the seeds of voter fraud since his first election, which did not end to his satisfaction. Voter fraud, yet to be substantiated then or now, is his go-to explanation as to why he did not win. His narrative is as he has said previously, “The election will be fair if I win.” That may well be his mantra for all his life and dealings. “I win, you lose!”
This is the language of an abuser whose ego cannot be denied. America has been a victim of his abuse, with part of the population ready for a divorce and part so emotionally attached they cannot imagine life without his controlling behavior. A majority of Americans are ready to let Trump go, but Trump cannot let go because he cannot lose control. He cannot be seen as a loser.
“This is the language of an abuser whose ego cannot be denied.”
Here is my concern: We already are seeing a process of court filings that most likely will accomplish little but prolong the inevitable. The electoral system in the United States may be the most secure in the world. The incidences of voter fraud have been few, limited and so scattered they do not influence any election.
I don’t mind Trump having his day in court. He has a history of filing lawsuits (3,500-plus) over the years, but that is Trump. If he wants to spend his money and time filing lawsuits, more power to him.
My concern is for what needs to happen now, for finding a healthy and safe experience for the nation and the world. Following an election where the incumbent has not been re-elected, a transition begins to the next administration. It is a complicated process needing the cooperation of the present administration as the nation moves forward. What the nation cannot afford is a roadblock that limits the opportunity for the next administration to get up and running on day one.
There is some concern —valid concern — that Trump will continue to act like the divorced spouse and break more things than he already has during his administration. The General Services Administration director, a Trump political appointee, refuses to authorize access or funds for the legal transfer to the next administration. Some might say this is prudent, however, I believe it is punitive because Trump was “denied” what he believes is his rightful second term.
This is like an abusive spouse taking away the car keys so his victim cannot escape. Or throwing up legal roadblocks to prevent the escaping spouse from renting an apartment or getting a job.
“In Trump’s malicious act, there is little concern for the nation or its safety.”
In Trump’s malicious act, there is little concern for the nation or its safety. There is little concern for the those who are being infected with the coronavirus Trump predicted would miraculously cease to exist on Nov. 4, because the virus was only a Democratic plot to discredit him.
Yet today, with Trump proved wrong again, there have been 10.2 million confirmed cases of COVID in the United States and 240,000 deaths. In Texas alone, we have crossed the threshold of 1 million new cases and 19,296 deaths. These are not just statistics but real people who have first flooded our hospitals and are dying because this president wanted to get re-elected, not govern. He was busy jetting from rally to rally having COVID super-spreader events instead of following the leadership and counsel of the scientists.
I have little doubt Joe Biden is the duly elected next president of the United States. I also have little doubt Trump will use the days between the end of his presidency and the inauguration of President Biden to obstruct, break and damage what remains of the federal government from his presidency.
How do I know he will do this? Because I’ve seen too many domestic abusers do the same thing. Why would Trump do this? Because he did not win. That means he is a loser. Abusers cannot admit they are losers — ever.
How, then, should kingdom people pray?
As we know from domestic violence situations, prayer alone will not stop the abuse. Concrete action and sober assessment of the reality are required. Our prayers should focus on that end.
“We must understand God was not on the ballot and still rules and reigns.”
First, we must understand God was not on the ballot and still rules and reigns. So we give praise even in uncertain times. But our praise to God must not turn a blind eye to abusive behavior.
Second, we must humbly recognize the place America has in the world as a force of peace and freedom, so we should pray for the nation and its continuing influence. We pray for those believers, missionaries and nations that are feeling less safe because we have stumbled in our walk as a nation.
Third, we must pray for those who have the ability to make a difference to do the right thing. We pray that those in authority might understand the weight on their shoulders, the people who look to them and then have courage to do what is right and best, not what is easiest and partisan.
Michael Chancellor served 33 years as pastor of four Baptist churches in Texas, seven years as a mental health manager in a maximum-security Texas prison and now is a therapist in private practice in Round Rock, Texas.