COLUMN: Grow a pair

Editor's note: Brad O'Donnell is a former president of College Democrats.

I have noticed a disturbing trend as I speak with my friends, relatives, and opponents.

We are becoming afraid to offend people.

It must be conceded that Republicans generally do not have this problem. Perhaps it is the nature of right-wingers to be loud and assertive.

My Democratic friends are often timid in their political assertions. Challenging moderates and liberals seems to be an exercise in futility. As such, conservatives get their way and reasonable political views are trampled.

I am not advocating that it is time to throw respect out the window. I am advocating a return to the old ways of discussing politics: Civil, level-headed and incredibly assertive.

When I listen to my elderly friends and relatives talk politics, it never becomes personal, no one turns red and storms away and no one resorts to name-calling. They may disagree and have strong words for each other, but that is the nature of sharing ideas.

When I talk politics to people my parents' age or my own age, things get heated quickly. They either shut down or get defensive. Words are never heard and ideas are never shared. In fact, many people I know will stop political conversations before they begin so no one will get offended.

People need to stop being so sensitive. It is preposterous to stop uncomfortable conversation simply because some may get offended. Do not be afraid to be challenged. Otherwise, you may run into the problem Democrats are having in Washington, D.C.

For example, President Obama recently decided he wanted to give a speech to a joint session of Congress on their first day back after recess. This turned out to be mildly controversial because that was the same night Republican presidential hopefuls were going to have one of their many debates.

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner told President Obama he could take his speech and shove it, the debate was more important. That should have been a bad political move for Speaker Boehner, as it was highly disrespectful to the office of the president.

Instead of political consequences for the Speaker, President Obama decided to once again to cave to Republican demands and move the date of the speech. The headlines the next day emphasized Boehner’s strength and Obama’s weakness as politicians. All Speaker Boehner did was forcefully put forward his point, and he won the battle.

Democrats should take a lesson. So should you. Get tough to get results.