The Parthenon

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Hunter Barclay: We must learn to respect others who disagree with us

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By the time that most students are reading this op-ed, our country will know the results of the 2018 Midterm Election. These results will undoubtedly evoke various emotions throughout not only our campus but also our country. Some people will celebrate. Some people will lament. Some people will feel confused. All of these feelings are legitimate because they demonstrate that people care about politics, their elected leaders, and the future of the United States. Regardless of the results, we must realize that the United States is not the sum of the number of red and blue seats in Congress. Instead, the United States is home to a diverse populace that is much more complex than the adjectives of Republican and Democrat.

This past Sunday, I attended the showing of RBG – a documentary detailing the life of United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – at the International Film Festival at the Keith Albee Theater. My favorite part of the documentary was the description of the unlikely friendship between Justice Ginsburg and the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Though these two justices sparred over their interpretations of the law, they were close friends who bonded over their love for opera, their New York roots, and their time as coworkers on the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. After doing additional research on this unlikely friendship, I learned that their families celebrated New Year’s Eves with each other, and the usually serious Ginsburg had to pinch herself to prevent herself from laughing at Scalia’s audacious jokes. Setting aside their differences, these two epitomized how partisanship should not define our country. 

Instead of ranting on social media or jeopardizing friendships, we should embody the respect that Ginsburg and Scalia had for each other. As the Student Body President, I realize that political differences can easily transcend from professional to personal disagreements. In an op-ed published last week, I received some criticism from one of my friends in the Student Senate. Yes, this senator is my friend even though we do not always see eye-to-eye. In fact, we even cordially discussed our varying opinions on how to interpret the SGA Constitution at Starbucks on her birthday – a meeting akin to a Ginsburg and Scalia conversation. In a time when polarization and division seem omnipresent, it is crucial to realize that it is okay to agree to disagree, as long as people remain respectful of each other. I sincerely believe that we should seek opportunities for compromise – a top priority of my administration. Whether your preferred candidates won or lost, please realize that mutual respect can coexist with differences in opinion. 

Hunter Barclay can be contacted at [email protected]

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