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Hearing opinions of others doesn’t mean one is a sellout

My father didn’t like Presidents Harry Truman or Lyndon Johnson. My mother wasn’t a President Richard Nixon fan. I learned more from their spirited but civil dinner-table discussions than all the TV talking-head shout fests since then. That Mom and Dad could seamlessly shift between topics like lawn-mowing, politics and “what’s on TV” without the temperature rising in the middle says as much about their considerable parenting skills as it does discourse in the 1960s.

Even in that volatile decade, ideological differences didn’t automatically trigger hatefulness and/or distrust. America had enough racial tension and rumors of war, but our political views had not yet hijacked every other facet of our relationships. Besides, Dad acknowledged Truman’s leadership at the end of World War II, and Mom, however grudgingly, recognized Nixon’s foreign policy acumen.

Admitting that the opposition might have a point didn’t brand you a sellout.

How refreshing it was to witness polar opposites President Clinton and Minority House Speaker Newt Gingrich agree on NAFTA in the 1990s. Both, especially Clinton, seemed to revel in their newfound though brief harmony. Can you imagine such oneness between President Biden and Minority Senate leader Mitch McConnell on gun control legislation? Me neither.

What are we going to do about us? Call me a buck-passer, but I’m curious about the generation of gun control activist David Hogg, environmental advocate Greta Thunberg and 23- year-old Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai, not that they need my endorsement.

They’re passionate, raw and sometimes rub people the wrong way. But they might be one mentor (John Kasich? Al Gore? Mitt Romney?) away from making a difference.

Since almost no one else wants to be the adult in the room, can we at least hear them out?

Jim Newton | Itasca, Ill.