Maybe you think politics should take a holiday this week, but who gets what isn’t just a decision for Santa. Who gets what, when and how is the very definition of politics, so now’s the perfect time for reflection.

More than partisanship or religious denomination, the “season of giving” separates people. The quality and capacity of being kind and generous is in some, not others, but it’s not ideology that begets altruism. It’s deeper than that, and innate public-spiritedness and humanitarianism are traits that should be readily apparent in anyone seeking the power to govern.

Regardless of who occupies the White House, there always will be the haves and the have-nots – and I’m not distinguishing those who find trinkets from Tiffany’s under the tree from those who find windshield wiper blades. I’m talking about a benevolent spirit that really great leaders have and lesser ones do not. There is magnanimity on both sides of the aisle, just as there is in every major religion.

Sample any group of Republicans and Democrats with equal trappings of success and you will find some who live in abundance, while others pass their precious time in scarcity. Some gladly share their last loaf and remain eternally sated, while others covet every morsel and are always hungry.

For the United States to thrive, the people we elect to make decisions about who gets what must believe in the fundamental premise that there is enough to go around – because there is, even though poverty has become a chronic condition. Especially now, when the divide between rich and poor is so wide, we must be wary of false prophets running for president who don’t tell us how they intend to use our treasure to help people who are struggling and poor.

You don’t need to be Christian to find some comfort in the Christmas story. At a minimum there must be a degree of familiarity; after all, it starts with a decree from Caesar Augustus – the government in Biblical times – that all the world should be taxed.

And you don’t have to believe in Jesus to find some hope for the world’s destitute in the imagery of a child born in a manger who lives and dies in glory because he fed the hungry, clothed the naked, healed the sick and forgave the sinners.

The scores of homeless men, women and children on the streets today are a reminder that there’s still no room at the inn.

For Christians, the Christmas story never gets old, and the faithful among us who believe in America’s exceptionalism should be skeptical of self-righteous so-called men of faith who rattle sabers, rot minds and utter words intended to cause fear and harm. How many Syrian refugees would Jesus turn away? How many innocent Muslims would he carpet bomb?

Some of the most generous people I know have the least to offer by way of material things, and some of the most lonely are isolated by their opulence. Money isn’t the measure of goodness, and religious window dressing is not the measure of virtue in candidates. Not all Muslims are terrorists, and not all Christians emulate Christ.

At Christmas time, a fault is revealed between those who think of others and enjoy giving as a token of love and those who resent what others have and believe they deserve more.

In election season, we see candidates who look for what’s good in people and want to solve complex problems, and others who bring out the worst in the electorate and exploit their fear.

America will be a more perfect union when we realign who gets what, when and how, and to do that, we need to support people who pledge to keep us safe, uphold the Constitution and truly believe we can and should reduce human suffering every day, including holidays.

Christmas can be tacky and sensationalized and leave you feeling empty if you let it, or it can be the beautiful retelling of a familiar story that brings great tidings of comfort and joy.

Politics in America can be tacky and sensationalized and leave you feeling apathetic if you let it, or it can bring justice and equal opportunity through a democratic and fair process.

God is good and America is great. We deserve a president who aspires to lift up communities as well as protect them – who sees our collective glass as half full and is willing to share it.

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and former state senator. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: dillesquire

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