Absolutely no one in our little community is more civilized or civic-minded than you.
And you’re absolutely right that we need to practice civility in our political debates, even when we think the other guy is an idiot.
But I think the blossoming of political dialogue on our listserv should be celebrated and encouraged.
This is how Americans engage in the free expression guaranteed by the First Amendment in this electronic age.
It is how we inform one another and how we form opinions that allow us to participate meaningfully in this representative democracy.
By this messy process we decide how to govern ourselves and to hold our elected representatives accountable for what they do on our behalf.
In an era when too many of our neighbors feel alienated and disenfranchised — and often don’t even bother to vote — the listserv provides a place for them to share their feelings and perhaps be persuaded by others.
This is, of course, “political rhetoric” of the very kind you describe, although I’ve tried to keep it short.
I hope we can exchange views again soon both in the Cafe and online.