I recently watched the PBS Frontline Documentary, “The Choice 2020: Trump vs. Biden,” which explored some of the defining moments in each of the candidate’s lives. It was interesting to gain some insight surrounding the circumstances and events that shaped who these two candidates have become today.

The two-hour documentary examined the backgrounds of the candidates from their early childhood up to their political positions and personalities today. I thought the reporting was fairly even-handed, presenting “the good, the bad, and the ugly” surrounding each man.

If you missed this insightful documentary, it is scheduled to be shown again on PBS on Nov. 2, the day before the election.

Watching the documentary, I was reminded of a quote from Alexander Pope, “to err is human, …”, the truth of which most reasonable people understand. While it’s certainly true that anyone running for president must have a strong ego, the documentary did illustrate one noteworthy distinction between the two candidates.

One of the candidates has openly acknowledged past mistakes and has offered apologies when appropriate, while the other candidate does not admit past errors in judgment and offers no apologies for his words or actions that are sometimes ill-chosen.

The second part of Pope’s quote is “to forgive is divine.” Well, neither candidate is “divine,” but one of the two seems a bit more forgiving than the other as he selected a running mate who had previously chastised him in the primary debates. The other candidate has consistently fired a host of his advisers who have dared to question some of his positions, later calling them nasty names. This is in stark contrast to Abraham Lincoln, who purposely selected some advisers having views different from his own.

Also, with respect to forgiveness, one of the candidates has repeatedly boasted that he has “no need to ask God for forgiveness.” Even his close friend and personal lawyer admits, “the only way he might acknowledge that he may not have done it right, he will say ‘I think my dad may have done that differently’.”

I realize that for some, “character” is not a primary concern when it comes to electing a president. In fact, I have some Christian friends who have correctly stated “we are not electing a pastor.” Nevertheless, it seems to me that in addition to their policy positions, a candidate’s “character” is an important factor to consider in electing our leaders.

Which brings to mind what the prophet, Micah, had to say, “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” These words are worth pondering today as we honestly evaluate both candidates (and as we examine our own lives).

Most importantly, no matter who wins after the dust settles from this hard-fought election, I trust that there will be peace in our streets and a willingness from both sides to come together and work for the common good of our country.

John P. Jones


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