In our sad world, we can see many examples of hypocrisy committed because we are all imperfect human beings who make mistakes.  As we watch the emotionally-charged "post-game show" from the recent US presidential election, it is easy to focus on all the negative attributes -- not only hypocrisy, but dishonesty, non-accountability, inconsistencies, misunderstandings, etc.  We are so focused on these things to the point where we may be excessively demonizing the two front-running former-candidates.  Is this really a fair approach to either one of these politicians?  So, as "People of the Book", we have to ask ourselves what are the right ways to individually respond to the onslaught of disturbing events and conflicting opinions that keep coming at us like a steam roller.

As Israel's great King Solomon once wrote (and now, these words are immortalized in Tanakh), "There is no new evil under the sun...."  So like it or not, as good citizens, we're going to have to face future elections whether we live in the US and/or Israel, or any other nation in the world for that matter.  So we better start preparing now!  To help, I  started compiling this toolkit based on hard lessons and awkward observations made during this last election.  (You might want to start your own toolkit, for that matter!)  

1.  Form your own opinions based on timeless truths.  Voting is not about going along with the recommendations of any persons or organizations who have opinions about which candidate will be best.  Remember, there is a Divine G_d looking over our shoulders when we vote, and this is about being "real" before our Sovereign Deity and standing for His ideals at turbulent times in global events.  "People of the Book" should seriously spend time reflecting beforehand on which candidates are most likely to uphold our shared values from Torah and Tanakh.  I can't speak about the situation in any other country, but America's moral compass is so far off that before we can effectively address progressive changes, we need to get back to the basics of what is "right" and what is "wrong".

2.  Don't make over-generalizations.  People cannot be (and rightly refuse to be) painted by anybody in broad brush strokes. Good and bad people (and all those in-between) come in every color, shape, size, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political persuasion, national origin, etc.  We cannot take the easy road and spout generalizations because it takes too much time and effort to clearly articulate good qualities and/or problematic characteristics of someone else.  

3.  Don't rely on gossip or hearsay.  If a politician makes private comments to someone who was perceived as a buddy or confidant that were off-the-record (or presumed to be by the politician), realize those words were intended for just those buddy's ears.  It really is nobody else's business what was said.  To be fair, we should respect appropriate boundaries in the lives of public figures.

4.  Find out the facts and what the candidates actually said on the issues.  So many people have not listened carefully to what the candidates actually stated.  They do listen to a continuous distortion of quick, half-digested, media-regurgitated sound bites. Be aware that many of these popular "catch-phrases" are deliberately taken out of context, thus inherently creating bias in these buzz-phrases.  Twisted-half-truths tend to get further from what was actually said with each passing day -- they are like a snowball rolling downhill, growing in size and gaining momentum.  

5.  If a candidate genuinely apologizes for something, accept the apology.  Be gracious and quit rubbing their nose in the offense like a puppy undergoing house training.  The Lord shows abundant mercy to all who sincerely seek it from Him; we would do well to emulate this Divine Characteristic.  

6.  Remember that candidates have constitutional rights and respect them.  Hypothetically, let's say someone like Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, or Richard Nixon decides to run for office in an upcoming election.  Then evidence comes to light during the election that this candidate may have committed crimes.  Can an objective investigation even be made (possibly resulting in due process that should be fair) after people conduct their subsequent analyses according to their own biases?  Not that the public doesn't have the right to know what's really happening "behind the scenes".  But the accused really shouldn't be tried by a sensationalistic press or by a populace who might not have all the facts at hand.  What happened to "presumed innocent until proven guilty"? 

We know that G_d intended for the USA and other countries to support basic human rights for all people; this is because we are all equal and we are all created in the Image of G_d.  Through Torah and Tanakh, "People of the Book" should know that the Lord requires his people to walk humbly before Him, loving mercy, seeking justice for all, including strangers and outsiders.  This is not a question of justifying anything that anyone might have done if they're "living on the wrong side of the law".  But it is more a question of, "Will America and Israel be nations of free rights for all citizens, living under their laws, seeking justice for those who have been egregiously wronged while humanely prosecuting and rehabilitating those who allegedly committed violations of these laws?"  

7.  Keep a realistic perspective based on the laws of your country and the methods employed to keep its citizenry safe.  In this past election, discussions about US immigration laws seem to have caused the most misunderstandings, I think due to people's fear of increasing "ethnic profiling" (which is perceived as a means of stereotyping and/or vilifying entire sub-groups of the population).  Unfortunately, profiling has been used by the US Department of Homeland Security since the 9/11/2001 attacks, and many police departments in the US use profiling to determine which suspects were most likely to commit certain crimes.  Like it or not, the US Immigration laws are in place, certain practices are justified in the interests of "National Security", and immigration quotas based on immigrants' country of origin have been observed since the latter part of the nineteenth century.  

There are lawful ways of becoming either a legal US resident and/or a US citizen; anyone who has observed these laws should have nothing to fear.  The notion of deporting anyone living in the USA as a law-abiding, legal resident or citizen (whether naturalized or native born) is not supported in these immigration laws.  

8.  Don't project extremists' views onto the electorate.  If the "Extreme & Repugnant Organization" (whose members hold fringe, offensive views) decides early-on to endorse hypothetical "Bull Moose Party Candidate Ivanna Diamond-Nicholas", that doesn't means that other citizens who vote for "Ivanna Diamond-Nicholas" hold the same extremist opinions and values as members of the "Extreme & Repugnant Organization".  It might only mean that others agreed with what Diamond-Nicholas had to say on a variety of issues.  Or maybe, voters were impressed at her policies on an issue that the other candidates didn't even acknowledge -- say -- oh, for example -- on a better way to clean up droppings that Democratic Donkeys and Republican Elephants leave behind after recurrent political stampedes!  This might be a ridiculous example, but the arguments that some voters are making to demean those who hold opinions differing from theirs are equally ridiculous!

9.  Carefully weigh what is at stake -- we might not like the price our country has to pay in order to get what we want.  For example, supporting a politician with a passion for social justice is an admirable, noble, and noteworthy thing to do.  But if the candidate openly shows disdain for G_d's commandments and a nation's laws, then maybe that candidate is not worthy of political support.  

10.  Beware of candidates which parrot persons or institutions already known to be unjust.  A good example is if someone repeatedly supports the same unfair decisions made by an organization-- oh, say -- like  the UN, for instance.  It is not likely they would be a just  and fair governmental official because they may not have considered the other sides to a situation.  The Book of Proverbs warns us that corrupt company will likewise corrupt someone hanging around with them.  People are truly known by the company they keep.  

11.  Look out for double-speak.  If a candidate says one thing one day and then two days later, they (or their running mate) completely contradict what was originally said, this person may not be seasoned and wise enough to serve in office.  The Book of Proverbs tells us that leaders placed over us should be able to fairly deliver justice to the poor and oppressed.  Beware when anybody who may be unable to do so.

12.  If you don't like any of the candidates, don't keep hoping for an "ideal, dream candidate".  The Lone Ranger and Tonto are not going to ride in and save the day, and even if they did, they're too busy righting wrongs to run for political office!  So work with the choices you've got.  Human nature being what it is, sometimes we have nobody else running but politicians who aren't polite, who aren't politically correct, and who aren't completely forthcoming.  

13.  Watch out when opponents hurl names and labels at candidates, thus dragging their names through partisan mud pits.  If a candidate or their supporters cannot make clear, rational arguments on why this politician should be elected, it is likely there isn't enough substance to the candidate to arguably support their positions.  You'll be able to spot them because they instantly resort to yelling, use of profanity, and name-calling where the same insults are repeated over and over!  Unfortunately, it is possible to get the wrong idea about what a candidate really believes and finds important, and then we run the risk of slandering them (thereby breaking a commandment) in the process. Granted, we're all fallible human beings, but we should try to rise above behavior like this.  

14.  If your candidate loses, don't throw your weight around and cause trouble.  For example, the protests, strife, and verbal barbs after the US election need to stop, and cessation of hostilities has to commence somewhere.  So let it begin with each of us just because it is the right thing to do.  

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