Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Rules for Navigating the Craziness of Election Season

Election Season is upon us. Last night, I sat glued to the returns on Television to see which candidate a group of farmers from the Midwest would choose. I watched as the pundits and so called experts explained the breakdown of precincts and counties with the authority of Jon Gruden describing a Spider 2 Y Banana play. On my left was my iPhone consistently buzzing with the latest commentary from a group of friends. It was a blast. Election Nights are by far my favorite nights to watch News channels. 

Elections can bring out the craziness in people. A friend on Instagram pointed out the crazy sticker guy standing behind Hillary Clinton while she gave her speech. He had "Vote for Hillary" stickers all over his face. There was the person who forgot they were live on MSNBC and used profanity. Craziness is not reserved for people acting like they are at a sporting event, instead of a political rally. Unfortunately, we see craziness during election season in conversations, social media and even the church. People lose relationships over their political policies because they don't know how to disagree without being disagreeable. 

So, I want to lay out some rules....call them guidelines if you will....for navigating the craziness of election season.

1. Be a follower of Christ before you are a Republican or Democrat - Our views will be split. Last night, I saw a poll where four different candidates all got a large percentage of the Evangelical vote. The poll proves we are not all going to agree. It is important we remember we are followers of Christ before our affiliation with a particular candidate or political party. Therefore, we should conduct ourselves as followers of Christ in the way we act and speak.
2. Do your own Research. At times, we allow the media or others who appear more knowledgeable on a subject to dictate who we should vote for. It is important we do our own research. Feel free to listen or read the pundits, but go straight to the source. Watch the candidates debate, listen to their speeches, read their views on a variety of important issues on their campaign websites. Read what people you agree with and disagree with are saying. It is important to engage the process. However, if I can give a word of caution, engage the process without becoming a Know it all. Also, do research on local candidates as well as state and national candidates.

3. Post or Repeat only what you KNOW is true. In the internet age, we can see an article and believe it to be true. However, go research it. A website like snopes.com is helpful to see if the article someone just sent you is real or fake. Just because someone you trust posts it on social media doesn't make it true. We should always find the source of the story. We should read or listen to the original speech a quote or story came from to understand the context of it.
4. Find the Right Forum for Expressing Your Views. This is so important. A family birthday party is probably not the right time or forum to have an intense political discussion with a distant relative. While Social Media can be helpful during the election season, it is not the best place to engage in political conversation. You can't read body language or discern someone's tone in their written text. We don't always have to share our views when we disagree. If you feel you need to respond though, find the right forum and the right time. 

5. Pray - Pray for all the Candidates, not just the one you plan to vote for. Pray for those in both political parties. Ask God to give them wisdom and health. Pray for their families. My heart goes out to the kids on the stage. I know they have to be tired and it is tough consistently being in the spotlight. Pray for them. Ask God to give you wisdom on who to vote for. Pray about conversations that you may have with others about the process. Pray about the issues. As a nation, the most important thing we can do during this election season is to pray.

6. Vote - I believe every eligible voter should get out and vote. It is a privilege we shouldn't take for granted. So, whether you are going to vote for my candidate of choice or not, please exercise your right to vote. 

Are there other guidelines you would add to this list?

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