We need a president who is open to criticism
On the surface, a campaign seems like nothing more than a platform in which candidates rattle their ideas and hype a crowd for votes.
But these campaigns unravel the future of our nation as defining opportunities continue to present themselves, and sometimes these defining opportunities come in the form of protests. That is when the competency of a candidate is truly revealed.
Unfortunately, it has become evident that rallies continue to grow brutal, and protesters are constantly thrown out even when they are peaceful.
A couple of months ago, officers policing a Trump rally removed a Muslim woman who stood up in silent protest during Trump’s speech. Trump responded by saying “Their hatred against us is unbelievable,” despite the fact that this woman committed no act showing any hatred.
In February, when a protester was being removed, Trump remarked “I’d like to punch him in the face.”
At another rally, he encouraged his supporters to “knock the crap” out of any protesters who threw tomatoes at him, rather than simply suggesting that his supporters disarm them. He even promised to “pay for the legal fees.”
If a candidate is unwilling to allow others a chance to openly grieve their concerns, which is an exercise of the first amendment, what must we, as citizens, expect from him if he becomes president?
“All good governments tolerate dissent. Bad governments are intolerant,” political science lecturer Jaye Ramsey Sutter said. “Dissent is important to us as Americans, and there is something honorable about it. What is frightening is no room for disagreement.”
Governments that are intolerant of dissent, such as Nazi Germany or the totalitarian regime of Stalin, have found themselves on the wrong side of history. Their biggest drawbacks were their inability to consider any form of criticism.
A good leader is not only determined by how they engage with their supporters. How they deal with those who stand against them is just as important.
When he faced protest during his campaign, President Obama would say, “I’ve heard you. But you got to listen to me, too.” Though he was firm, he was respectful enough to allow others to air their grievances openly, rather than incite violence against them.
When Franklin Roosevelt was in office, he faced heavy criticism. Once, a rumor spread claiming that he left his dog, Fala, and sent a destroyer created from tax dollars to fetch it. In a speech he said “These Republican leaders are not content with their attacks. They now include my little dog.”
That little ray of humor was all it took to disarm his critiques, including the “stoniest of Republican faces,” according to American biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin.
A good leader requires a decent sense of humor. They cannot only take criticism, they have the competency to make light of situations instead of becoming verbally brutal or threatening.
But at the end of the day, as citizens, we deserve a candidate who knows how to act mature and respectful in the face of those who oppose him.
Opinion columnist Krishna Narra is a marketing junior and may be reached at [email protected]