November 10, 2016,
Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,
Most past presidential elections have been predictable. They reflected the polls. Tuesday’s election defied that pattern. By all accounts, rural America turned out in record numbers and voted for Donald Trump. In January he will be the 45th President of the United States.
This was a divisive election, and Donald Trump was elected as a divisive candidate. Whether he acts as president in a divisive manner remains to be seen.
In looking back at past Presidents, the one who reminds me most of Donald Trump is Andrew Jackson. He too rode a populist movement to become President. He was fiercely opposed by others, especially Henry Clay. Clay started the American Whig Party in opposition to “King Andrew I.” Jackson was the President who through executive order defied the Supreme Court and forcibly removed most Indians who resided east of the Mississippi River. This expulsion was named the Trail of Tears. Jackson spent much of his presidency attacking financial elites and especially the Bank of the United States in Philadelphia which was the legal depository of U.S. Treasury bills.
There is a very important and positive aspect of Andrew Jackson’s presidency. Historians rate Jackson highly overall because he gave voice to and implemented policies that supported agrarian, rural America. Before Jackson’s time as President (1829-1837) these people felt left out as forgotten members of the American dream. After Jackson, everyone considered these yeoman farmers as mainstream Americans and the backbone of the economy. Jackson was the founder of the modern Democratic Party and remains the hero of populists who want to take hold of the established order and shake it to its foundations.
It is hard to say what kind of President Donald Trump will become. The election is over, and the result is there. What happens next is uncertain. Meanwhile, we need to work together to become one nation again. Change is occurring, and all of us want a change that builds toward a better future for ourselves and subsequent generations. Today Father George Stamm sent me a prayer. I ask that you use it in Church this Sunday. We need to heal, and prayer is always the best way to make a new beginning.
“Lord, most holy and powerful, bless our President-Elect Donald and fill his mind with your wisdom and his heart with your love, that he may do your will for the people of this country and the world. We ask this in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, by whose holy example of obedience we must all believe and live. Amen.”
With my love and best wishes, I remain,
Your brother in Christ,
W. Jay Lambert
VI Bishop of Eau Claire