Disagreeing without being Disagreeable

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February 25, 2011 by Daniel Stack

With the reason tragic shooting in Arizona there’s been a lot of talk of the need to change the tone in Washington.

In politics I do believe you should make no apologies for the way you feel and you should fight to win. On the other hand, it’s vital that you remember that your opponents on a given issue are still human beings – and even if you disagree on most issues there may be some areas of commonality. I’d like to give a few examples of this, both in my own life and in recent politics.

Towards the end of the 2008 presidential campaign you may recall an event where Senator McCain was asked about the dangers of electing a Muslim candiate. Senator McCain responded that then-Senator Obama was not a Muslim but a Christian, refusing to dive into the mud of lies. (Mind you per our Constitution there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim candidate for any office but McCain did dispel a lie.)

Several years ago I was watching (well listening to a podcast of) one of the Sunday political shows. Ted Kennedy was on and was talking about No Child Left Behind. He indicated his support for the measure. When the host asked why he was working with George Bush he said that it was vital to work together with your political opponents in areas that you had commonality.

In my own life my political views have been shaped by my life experiences. My wife worked for three years in a high school whose students were primarily from an urban setting, most of them being immigrants or first generation Americans. Witnessing the difficult lives of many of those children has contributed to my already fairly liberal view of the world. I was talking with a Facebook friend who I was debating with whether receivers of government aid should be drug tested. I felt it denied them dignity. Her views were quite different. She explained how being in the medical profession she had been robbed multiple times by people seeking drugs. Is either of us wrong? I don’t think so – nor do I think there is a magical answer to many complicated problems that fits into a brief sound-bite.

So when I make a political post that you disagree with please don’t take it as an attack on you. But do tell me and tell me why you disagree. Believe it or not, I have been persuaded away from some of my positions. Never by a “you are an idiot and should die” comment mind you…


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February 2011
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