President Barack Obama
It may make your blood boil and your mind may not be changed, but the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship. It is essential for our democracy.
What we should be asking is not whether we need a big government or small government, but how we can create a smarter and better government.
Politics has never been for the thin-skinned or the faint of heart, and if you enter the arena , you should expect to get roughed up. Moreover, Democracy in a nation of more than 300 million people is inherently difficult.
When our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening, foreign entity, it ignores the fact that in our democracy, government is us.
You can question somebody's views and their judgment without questioning their motives or patriotism.
We can't expect to solve problems if all we do is tear each other down. You can disagree with a certain policy without demonizing the person who espouses it.
Before we get too depressed about the state of our politics, let's remember our history. The great debates of the past, all stirred great passions. They all made somebody angry, and at least once led to a terrible war. What is amazing, is that despite all the conflict, our experiment in democracy has worked better than any form of government on earth.
If we choose only to expose ourselves to opinions and viewpoints that are in line to our own, we become more polarized, more set in our own ways. It will only reinforce and deepen the political divides in our country. But if we choose to actively seek out information that challenges our assumptions and beliefs, perhaps we can begin to understand where the people who disagree with us are coming from.