The Body Politic
The freedom to express your political views is one of the things that makes the United States a great country—it's a right that's a part of the country's main governing doctrine, the Constitution. However, just because you have the right to speak your mind about politics or anything else related to elections or which candidate you favor, that doesn't give you carte blanche to toss good behavior out the window.
There are appropriate ways to express your political views that are less likely to offend others' sensibilities. If you keep your language clean and you don't point fingers at any one person or in someone's face as you're disagreeing with them, then you probably can enjoy political banter without ending up in a fistfight. Other inoffensive ways to express your political views include:
Bumper stickers T-shirts Lapel pins A letter to the editor of your local newspaper
Keep in mind that many workplaces may have rules that prohibit employees from wearing politically motivated clothing or buttons in the workplace. Even if you're passionately involved in a current political campaign, you're going to have to consider your workplace off limits for such things. You should apply the same thinking to other places where people of all ages might be offended by your strong views. These include houses of worship and schools. If you feel strongly about an issue that could be confusing or upsetting to children, don't broadcast your views on a sign on your lawn. By the same token try to avoid wearing any offensive political clothing or insignia when you'll be dealing with children. It's one thing to express your civil rights. It's another to act civilly when doing so.
Dealing with Disagreements
When you've crossed the line from polite political discussion to disrespectful diatribes you run the risk of screaming at others, using inappropriate language to get your point across, or speaking in such a way that you've reduced someone to tears. Sometimes it's best, when you feel the heat rising, to take a deep breath and then a step back. Often, the best way to defuse a situation that's gotten out of control is to simply end the conversation. Agree to disagree; you don't need to share the same opinion with everyone.
Of course, just because you've decided not to let things get out of control doesn't mean that your verbal sparring partner feels the same way. If this person keeps coming at you, calmly repeat, “I think it's best to agree to disagree on this point,” until the other person backs down. Either way, you've reached your goal of not blowing your top over a political discussion.