There is nothing so frustrating as someone who doesn’t like someone simply because they’re a Democrat or a Republican.  Is it right to dislike someone simply because you disagree with their views?  I disagree with nearly 100% of liberals views, and yet there are a few Democrats I respect, in spite of their deeply held and, in my mind, misguided beliefs.

Three Democrats come to mind: Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh and the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan.  There is very little they believe I would agree with, however each is or was principled in their views.  They don’t tote the party line and they demonstrate deliberate consideration of their and their opposition’s political beliefs.  Pat Moynihan has long ago gone on to a better place and Lieberman and Bayh are both heading into retirement so this breed of thinking Democrat is an endangered species.

There are Republicans that are no less party-line robots than some of their colleagues across the aisle, but I’ll willingly admit that it’s much easier for me to be supportive of a Republican that speaks words that appeal to my conservative sensibilities.  At least I’m honest about it.

Ever had a conversation with someone knowing they’ve already come to a conclusion before you’ve even finished making your point?  Wouldn’t you like to believe they would grant due consideration to an opposing view?

My ex-wife used to ask me why I watched Sunday morning political shows hosted by very left-wing liberals; she could see that watching these shows would always seem to get me worked up.  I enjoy listening to viewpoints different from my own, even when it infuriates me.  As I explained to her, I learned something every time I watched one of these shows because one of two things would always happen: either I’d hear something that would make me reconsider my view and potentially change it, or my convictions would be strengthened.  In either case, I benefit.  Did my views change very often?  Next to never.  But it did happen and when it did I found it quite enthralling.  There is always something to be gained by carefully considering concepts that differ from your own and if you’re not willing to open your mind then you’re nothing more than a bobble-head.

The politicians I don’t respect are those who live their public lives to spew talking-points.  If they cannot make a reasoned argument for their views without resorting to accusations, name calling or scare tactics, then their argument has no merit.  Sadly this predominates our political discourse.

There are certain things I believe that all the consideration in the world aren’t going to change; the same goes for most anyone with deeply held beliefs.  Give respect those that will listen, digest and decide, regardless of the ultimate outcome.  Constantly investigate, validate, reconsider and re-enforce your beliefs.  Take comfort in those beliefs that cannot be swayed by even the most serious consideration.  Never feel threatened by a view in opposition of your own.  God gave you a mind…use it.

I don’t expect to convert a liberal to a conservative, nor should any liberal ever hope to change me into a left-wing ideologue.  It ain’t gonna happen.  But I sure do enjoy the banter and cherish those times when my views are swayed left or right.