The Art of Giving the Benefit of the Doubt

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who are displeased or downright angry with the election results every election year, fear not, for more elections are coming, each giving you the opportunity to cast your vote for a person you can actually tolerate. But how could I possibly survive the next (2,4,6) years?!

“I know who this elected official really is! How could they possibly do a good job?” “This country may not survive with them in power.” “People like me will be stripped of our rights and put in jail with this person in charge!”

Now, I didn’t mention any names in the above quotes, but you thought of a certain politician, didn’t you? It’s absolutely fine to dislike candidates or politicians. In fact, I don’t know of any senator or representative who actually expects to be liked by everyone, and there certainly aren’t any presidents who are universally liked or admired. I know it’s not very nice to think about, but you will undoubtedly find yourself on the losing side of an election at some point in your life. For some of us, we were devastated by the results of the 2012 elections. For others, 2016 brought heartache of epic proportions. And for others still, 2012 and 2016 both left us concerned for the future and shaking our heads in disbelief.

But there’s one thing every single one of us needs to do when the elections are over and the newly elected officials are taking their oaths – we need to give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s easier said than done, I know.

If you’re on the winning side this year, be gracious. Don’t rub it in. Your sad friends will be glad you didn’t. If you’re on the losing side, try not to be cynical. Give the benefit of the doubt, especially if the politician you detest hasn’t even taken office yet. Wait until they actually do something stupid before taking to the streets to protest. America has survived some pretty horrible things (9/11, Pearl Harbor, Civil War, etc.). It will be able to survive one more politician, trust me.

We are coming to the end of an extremely divisive year in America, and that’s something to be thankful for as we enter Thanksgiving week. We all have one president, 435 representatives, and 100 senators working to preserve the American dream in the best way they know how to. You won’t like all of them. I don’t like all of them. But the beauty of our system of government is the ability to disagree with each other without fear of a hostile takeover by the other side. Pray for your elected officials, and give them the benefit of the doubt.

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