Thursday, October 29, 2020

When Our Candidate Loses

I am writing this before the November 3 election. At the moment, everyone has hopes that their candidates will win. Half of those hopes will be dashed on the reality of the ballot box. Nearly half of Americans will be disappointed by the results. There are many races in this election, but I am thinking chiefly about the presidential election.

There has been a lot of harsh and extreme rhetoric. People on both sides of the political spectrum have painted the consequences of this election in apocalyptic terms of good versus evil, freedom versus tyranny. I admit to my share of political bombast.

I do not know what will happen as a consequence of the election results. Some have predicted violence or civil war. There will likely be accusations that the voting results are fraudulent. Perhaps the Supreme Court will get involved. It has happened before.

I am not a prophet. I do not know what will happen. Except I know that someone will lose and someone will win. My candidate may win or he may not. Either way it will be alright. I know that is not the conventional wisdom. People seem to think that it will be a disaster if the other guy wins. It won’t. Let me tell you why I believe this.

First I believe in God. I believe that God will work things out for good, even if I cannot see that now. Second, I believe in America. I believe in our democratic system of government, the integrity of local election officials, and the collective wisdom of the American people.

Third, I believe that I might be wrong in my choice of candidate. It is hard for me to imagine this at the moment. The choice seems so clear, and I am so certain I am right! But then I step out of myself and realize that I could be wrong. It is wonderfully freeing to admit one’s fallibility. Everyone should try it!

A little humility (and I admit to having very little) goes a long way when it comes to accepting the results of an election. I might be mistaken in my assessment of the situation. Recently I have been reading a lot about disinformation and misinformation in the media – especially social media.

I have been learning about confirmation bias and the lure of fake news. We tend to hear only those facts that agree with what we already believe. I know I am as vulnerable as anyone to deception. So are you. Remember the Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”

No matter who wins the White House or any other race, we need to rally behind our country and its democratic process. Our republic and its freedoms are more important than any candidate or party or president. This is especially important to keep in mind when we feel the country is heading in the wrong direction. For all its faults it remains a great country. Justice will prevail in the long run. Do not fear.

If your candidate wins, be gracious in victory. Go ahead and celebrate. I will! (I hope.) But after the confetti has been swept up, imagine what it is like to be a supporter of the candidate who lost. These are our fellow citizens, our brothers and sisters (literally in a lot of cases.) They will be mourning and worrying about the future of our country. Have compassion. Empathize with them.

No matter who wins the presidential election, we all win if democracy wins. Free and fair elections with a peaceful transfer of power are the real prizes. Let us all make sure this happens, no matter whose candidate wins.