I have a friend named Donna Massaro.

Donna and I grew up together on the tough streets of Mahopac, N.Y. We both have extensive gang backgrounds; both know what it’s like to wander past Rodak’s Deli at 10 pm, just hoping to make it home alive. Donna and I survived the thug-infested halls of Mahopac High School; we saw one too many G shot down while purchasing soft serve at Carvel; wondered whether, behind that next tree at Sycamore State Park, a rabid squirrel might jump out and … game over.

Hence, it is interesting that, despite our similar upbringings, Donna and I share absolutely zero political and social beliefs.

I’m babbling. Over the past few months, here and on Facebook, Donna and I have gone back and forth on myriad issues. I’m the nut-job liberal, she’s the foaming conservative. We bicker, fight, gouge, argue, moan, berate, etc. Then, eventually, we make peace and agree to disagree.

Which I what I love about this forum and, to a larger extent, democracy.

In my book, nothing is worse than indifference. Absolutely. Nothing. I’ll take Sean Hannity* and Rush Limbaugh as dinner companions any day of the week over the person who says, “I don’t care about politics” or “They’re all the same.” Sometimes, I’ll complain about something Donna wrote, and a person nearby will say, “Man, how can you be friends with her.” That’s the wacky twist—in a sense, it’s why I’m friend with her. I might loathe Donna’s viewpoints, but I love her passion in expressing them. She thinks Obama’s health care reform sucks. I disagree—strongly. But at least she cares about a vital issue; at least it means something to her. This is a woman who loves America, and wants to see it work. How can I detest that—even if I don’t feel her methods?

Plus, away from politics, you’ll never find a more passionate, nicer individual. Donna organizes class reunions, cooks for everyone, raises money for the troops, etc …

I guess what I’m trying to say is that—yeah, I get heated. Overheated. But I hope people of all beliefs keep coming here; keep fighting; keep arguing; keep bringing the goods. Because while I love sports and music and Gary Coleman movies of the week, I live for politics.

* Side story: A few years ago, when my Bonds book came out, Fox called to ask if I’d appear on Hannity and Colmes. Man, I did not want to go on that show. Absolutely didn’t. But my wife and dad both insisted I’d be crazy to turn down the opportunity. So I went. And while the show sucked, the guy who really sucked was … Colmes. Again, I agree with nothing Hannity says. Literally, nothing. But the guy was reasoned and informed. Colmes? Nothing.

** PPS: Yesterday I was reading a piece on Mitt Romney’s health care plan for Massachusetts. I loathe Mitt Romney, but if I’m Obama I invite him to the White House ASAP. A. Romney has been through this, and implemented what seemed to be a very impressive plan. B. Politically wise move.