Does it make sense to debate and argue about politics and religion at all?

Confession: I love to argue. I love the clash of ideas and defending a position for the fun of it. Sometimes this gets me in trouble, as I find myself defending a viewpoint against someone who is deeply offended because they don’t share my love of debate. Putting that issue aside, my question is this: does it even make sense to debate these hot-button issues that get people’s emotions flared up so easily? Can anything constructive come out of a discussion over liberal ideology vs. conservative ideology? Or do they inevitably devolve into name-calling and insults? How can we keep these discussions constructive and discover truth? I’ve got some ideas on the subject that I’m going to share in an upcoming post, but I’d like to hear people’s thoughts. Post yours in the comments.