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A response to political complaints everywhere: Why can’t we be friends?

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“All great change comes from great complainers.”

An empowering, stand-alone line from the University of Florida’s newspaper, the Alligator. Forego innovation and cooperation; our future leaders will improve society by taking umbrage, their staff believes.

“Here at the Alligator, we often receive comments and emails stating that our views are too liberal, that we complain too much and that we need to get over it. These types of comments are ones many liberals across America have faced while voicing their opinions. These complaints are often misunderstood. Right now, liberals are not whining. They are demanding change, and they are calling their fellow Americans to action.”

While justifying liberal complaints, the Alligator accused conservatives of unfairly labeling liberals as “whiners, complainers, and malcontents.” But is this description really inaccurate? Even six months into Donald Trump’s presidency, coping with disappointment has taken the form of protests, media bias, and immediate vilification of anything associated with this administration.

Whether you like President Trump or not, these responses deny him the chance to prove he can govern effectively. What’s more, dismissing his policies before wholly considering the implications — both positive and negative — perpetuates the partisan rift that stymies our productivity.

Complaining for liberals is becoming more than a noble response — it’s turning into an impulse that will inevitably carry over to other aspects of their lives. This is counterproductive. While one can admire the passion and sense of purpose that protesters bring for their causes, this energy should be channeled into something more fruitful. Complaints may make a statement, but discussion solves problems.

Yet time and again, liberals have refused to come to the table and work with conservatives to achieve a mutually favorable outcome, such as we’ve witnessed with the health care debate. Certainly, the partisan divide existed before President Trump took office, but it has now intensified to a debilitating level. Congress was meant to be slow, but it was also meant to be deliberative.

With this in mind, we should encourage the “warriors” the Alligator references to put down their shields and swords. They may be out to conquer this administration, but they don’t need to divide our constituency too.

Without this shield, they’ll realize we share common goals.

“We just have a difference of opinion on the path to get there, but that [negative] type of rhetoric doesn’t bring people to our party,” said Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on a recent episode of Meet the Press. “We have to have reasonable discussions. Have a dialogue, be respectful of each other.” We learn by example, so if our current legislators can’t do this, then we can only imagine what the future holds.

The Alligator was correct in saying “we need to work together and animate America.” But in order to do this, we need to stop promoting whining as a weapon against dissatisfaction and use our political parties to inspire our people. As John Locke suggested in his Second Treatise of Government, we must trust that our leader has the country’s best interest at heart. We must also listen to one another so that we can achieve one, United States of America once more. Discussion is how we can truly offer a chance for change.

Consequently, I would amend the Alligator’s statement with inspiration from Henry Clay: “All great change comes from great compromisers.”

The mark of a true warrior is to recognize when you might be wrong and to take the time to listen. No one — and no party — can do anything alone.

Let’s teach our future leaders that collaboration, not complaint, produces the change the Alligator wants to see. Creating a culture of free thought and open debate is what empowers our leaders to come together, which can, in fact, make America great again.


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