And let me say this: Republicans are patriots, they love their country just like we do. But they’ve got some bad ideas. That doesn’t mean that we don’t appreciate them as Americans. I’ve got family members who have got bad ideas -- they’re still part of the family, but you don’t want to put them in charge, right?This President has made a habit of trying to teach us that disagreement doesn't need to lead to demonization - something our politics has assumed for far too long. Its gotten so bad lately that all we ever do is lob insults at each other from our own epistemically enclosed media outlets.
This has not worked out well as a strategy for Democrats. Then-Senator Barack Obama explained why way back in 2005.
A polarized electorate that is turned off of politics, and easily dismisses both parties because of the nasty, dishonest tone of the debate, works perfectly well for those who seek to chip away at the very idea of government because, in the end, a cynical electorate is a selfish electorate.Igniting a conversation based on empathy and respect for those we disagree with is a core value for President Obama. Those of us who have been paying attention from the beginning have always known that.
Throughout his career, Obama has refused to demonize his opponents. Instead, he has sought them out and listened to them. He has tried to understand how they think and why they see the world as they do. His mother encouraged this sense of empathy, and it’s a lesson Obama learned well...The truth is, very few people "get" this about President Obama. Until they do, they'll never really understand him. His message has always been the same to his opponents, whether they are foreign or domestic.
Although Obama’s reform agenda echoes aspects of those advanced by many Democrats over the last century, he has admitted—and this is the decisive point in understanding his outlook—that his opponents hold principles rooted as deeply in American history as his own. “I am obligated to try to see the world through George Bush’s eyes, no matter how much I may disagree with him,” he wrote in Audacity. “That’s what empathy does—it calls us all to task, the conservative and the liberal … We are all shaken out of our complacency.” Obama rejects dogma, embraces uncertainty, and dismisses the fables that often pass for history among partisans on both sides who need heroes and villains, and who resist more-nuanced understandings of the past and the present.
When that offer is mocked and/or abused, the counter-puncher steps in.