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Despite not actually knowing what either of my loyal readers’ opinions are on the matter I still think very highly of former President Barack Obama. Actually I long for the days when someone like him gets to lead us again. Unlike our present administration Obama was not only filled with cogent thoughts, he was incredibly good at expressing them in a civil fashion that is sorely missing today.

I watched his entire speech where he reminded the folks in Illinois last week that better is better than perfect because perfection is rarely achieved. In essence he said that all of us can find some common ground on any topic, and once found, more than likely things will be better. He told us not to lock into our opinions, not to outshout our opponents or pummel them into submission, rather he encouraged us to seek common ground.

The problem with our politics today is that both sides think the world will end if they don’t win everything they seek. Build the wall, repeal Obamacare, Medicare for all, fake news, and you can probably name a dozen other major issues that we Americans are struggling with. Both sides of these issues deeply believe their solutions are the only solutions. Take either side of the Trump issue, neither side is willing to give an inch and the struggle has pitted neighbor against neighbor, friends have turned into enemies, and the vast majority of our discussions have become incredibly mean-spirited.

It’s my great hope that we can restore civility among our citizenry before we really have no option left except to go to war with each other. I guess we need to begin by agreeing to disagree without being disagreeable. Seems simple, doesn’t it?

Let’s take the recent accusation by a friend that all Democrats are pedophiles. Being a Democrat, I was rather insulted, but rather than slap him I interrupted and let him know that I was insulted. He immediately backtracked and tried to apologize when I asked him where he ever got that notion, and he repeated the accusation that Hillary Clinton ran a child sex ring out of D.C. pizza parlor. It was here that I realized my friend had totally drunk the Kool-Aid of my opposition and I pushed him a bit: ‘’You really don’t believe that, do you?’ Then he took off on Obamacare and environmentalists while I listened. I then expressed my side of the issues by calmly reminding him that we differed, then I let him know why.

I made it a point to leave room for him to interject his opinions about my opinions and while we may have started out testy, in the end we not only had a civil conversation but we departed friends.

We even discussed what we liked about Trump and what we really didn’t like about him (yes, there are some things that I’m OK with) and we both discovered things we didn’t like and thus common ground. Anyway, I still like the world Obama left us more than the political crap we’re trying to digest now.

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Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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