Can you tell I'm avoiding writing? Can you tell I'm avoiding vacuuming? I need to do that since my mummy comes today!
I wonder if political discussion qualifies as an oxymoron. In my experience, it does. I often avoid political discussions because I find it brings out the worst in people. I've never witnessed a discussion about politics that did not get personal, unless everyone is in agreement (and even so, then you get the warm, fuzzy, self-congratulatory kind of personal).
Now, some might say that is the point, and yes, politics is personal, but like in most relationships, we've never learned to fight fair. That's probably another oxymoron. My point though, even the one who remains stubbornly rational in the face of emotion on the other side does nothing to further their own views, consensus, or even good will among the impassioned. In fact, I find such people not only lack passion, but take a malicious pleasure in upsetting people, or at the least in condescending to them, and so I tend to disregard such stoics.
No matter how you behave, these things so often degrade into swaying the other, rather than about simply stating your own viewpoint and letting the other absorb it. It's more about talking than listening, and it's a hell of a lot more about talking than thinking. Not a good environment for fostering opinions, consensus, or good will.
Also, sometimes I'm simply not educated (sadly) on an issue and choose not to participate. I can't tell you the surprised reactions I've gotten when saying that I'll respectfully decline to argue because I just don't know where I stand. They don't even jump in to defend their position--they just sort of gape at me and then take a personal pot-shot to rile me. (God knows there's plenty of ammo to work with.)
But I find these discussions the worst place in which to learn. I prefer quieter, if not less-opinionated, resources. For instance, most of what I've learned about Obama comes from his own website. I'm purposefully avoiding the press and others' opinions at this time. If I find I like him--and I don't hate him, so that day may come--then I'll seek out differing opinions, still being undecided as I am.
So, that being my experience, I gauge whether a discussion is spiraling into partisan denegration, and I sometimes choose to withdraw. Nothing pisses off the other side more. But as I've learned with parenting and marriage and life: success, common ground, and love are fostered more by those quiet times of reflection than from flapping our gums.