What I like about Trump and Hillary
“Would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?” The second presidential debate concluded with this question, presented by an audience member named Karl Becker.
Breaking protocol, the audience erupted in applause. Until that question, the candidates had been parlaying their answers into opportunities to attack each other, capitalizing on the results of a September poll, which showed that no more than 35% of voters would describe either candidate as honest or trustworthy. As accusations were hurled, 63.6 million viewers nationwide watched the event turn sour.
To some extent, that’s understandable. Both candidates have done some shady things that they need to answer for. During her four years as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton conducted all of her email correspondence from a private server, jeopardizing the security of the classified communications of her office.
On the other hand, Donald Trump didn’t pay income taxes for eighteen years after reporting a $916 million loss in the ‘90s. He also spoke very inappropriately about women in some recently leaked tapes from 2005.
In summary, the debate went something like this: Hillary brought up Donald’s tapes, of course. Trump brought up Bill Clinton and Paula Jones. Hillary insinuated that Trump’s temperament wasn’t suited for being in charge of “the law in our country.” Smug, Trump responded that, if he were in charge of the law, Hillary would be in jail. He also accused her of lying. You get the idea.
So when the final question was asked, it was a shocking change of pace. A new energy spread through the room, as the candidates reversed the negative course they had followed for almost ninety minutes.
Struggling to capture a tone of authenticity, Clinton said that, as a mother and grandmother, she admires the devotion that Trump’s children have toward him. “…I think that says a lot about Donald.”
It’s easy to criticize people, but so hard to compliment or encourage them.
Trump complimented Hillary on her resilience and persistence. “I will say this about Hillary: She doesn’t quit, she doesn’t give up. I respect that… she’s a fighter.”
It was awesome. Like a cold drink on a hot summer’s day, it was exactly what we all wanted and needed to hear.
You’ve heard the saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I’m sure many of us have at one point wished that the candidates would resort to the latter. The Bible goes a step further in Ephesians 4:29, which says “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace on the hearers.” It’s not enough to keep from saying bad things. We should also strive to edify those around us, imparting grace on them through our words. We’re supposed to build others up.
My challenge to you is this. Identify someone in your life who is difficult to compliment, and say something positive to him or her. It’s easy to criticize people, but so hard to compliment or encourage them. Be sincere—if your compliment is dishonest, that makes you a hypocrite.
Chances are, you are one of the countless millions who are disgusted with one (or both) of the candidates, or even the race itself. If so, it may be difficult for you to receive a challenge of moral uprightness from their example, but the test of your character is whether you can look past them and value the lesson on it’s own merit.
Can we learn to look for, and be open to seeing good in every situation, not just those involving the people we like?