What good is the First Amendment if we won't listen?

The problem with hyper-partisans is that they will only listen to you if you agree with whatever litmus-test question they throw at you. Either I answer their question as they would answer it, or they move on.

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Granted, they didn’t come to the post office that day to speak with me. I just happened to be standing in front of the door hoping to gather enough nominating signatures to make it on the November ballot.

But it continues to perplex me that these hyper-partisans can so quickly dismiss me based on only one question. When I get someone like that, I try to get them to see that one issue does not make a legislator, especially a good one.

And often the question is not about policy. Instead, it sounds like this, “Do you like, what do you think, how do you feel about so-and-so.” Yesterday it was all about the memo. What do you think about the memo? Do you think the memo should have been released?”

I wanted to say, “Is the 5 minutes we’ll spend debating whether the memo should or should not have been released going to fix our roads, or improve our healthcare system?”

But I don’t like it when someone avoids my question, so I tell them what I think. And the hyper-partisan either walks away or signs my petition, which is disappointing in either case.

Why should one non-policy issue makeup someone’s mind up so quickly? As an independent, I will listen to you, agree with you, and disagree with you. I am someone who can listen to others with an open mind while holding a different opinion. Honest agreement and disagreement are what I value most.

I appreciate it when someone feels strongly about something. But if he won’t take five minutes to listen to a different view, it makes me wonder how convicted he is; how much of what he is telling me is driven by thoughtful consideration and how much by partisanship?

We live in a country where we can express ourselves freely. So why not also take the time to listen to each other? What good is the First Amendment if we won’t take the time to listen, if all it protects is our ability to hear ourselves?

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