Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Best Way To Win A Political Debate

As you probably know, I love history.  I've studied it most of my life, I write about it, and I continue to learn more about it all the time.  Sadly, politics goes right along with history for many of us--I love that, too.  Or I did.  Back when you could discuss politics without it ending in a shouting match.  We used to be much smarter back before we became so "evolved" as we are today. 

It's not possible to talk politics anymore--I know, a lot of people still try.  It rarely ends well, because we don't know how to debate anymore, and it winds up devolving into name calling and labeling those we don't agree with.  People that engage in these hostile debates don't usually want to discuss politics, they just want to fight and call people names.  They've got about the same level of competence in discussing politics as I have in discussing auto mechanics--I can drive a car, but I sure don't know what makes it work.  That's the average level of expertise of the average political debater on social media--lots of ideology and talking points, but very little understanding of the actual issue.

They've got that "big fish in the small pond" complex, and it gives people a sense of importance to run a discussion that leans left or leans right and have all their similarly minded friends gang up on the outnumbered people on the other side that have wandered into their trap.  And it always gets ugly--people get brave when there's no chance they're going to get punched in the face for being rude.  We used to be more polite because we used to have most of our discussions in person.  And the very next day they're back again with another inflammatory meme or comment that starts a whole new debate. 

I've gotten so sick of politics I've basically gone off the radar.  I don't watch the news anymore.  I don't engage in discussions on social media, and I've unfollowed or unfriended countless numbers of people on Facebook who flood my feed with their negativity on a daily basis. 

So let me tell you the best way to win a political debate . . .

Get involved.  Support good candidates.  Join organizations that support the causes you believe in.  Promote ideas and denounce incivility.  Part of living in a free society is dealing with people that believe differently--no one group has the right to decide who can and can't have an opinion.  We've been teaching our kids diversity and toleration for years, but apparently as soon as that theory is tested we discover we don't like it when people people don't completely agree with us!  We should be rising above shouting each other down, disrupting the speech of others, or unfairly labeling people we disagree with.  We have freedoms under the Constitution, but even the Constitution limits those rights to the point that they infringe on those same rights of others--it means we all get the opportunity to lecture, but sometimes we have to accept the fact we need to listen as well. 

But the best way to win a political debate?  You vote.  Go to your polling place and cast a vote.  That's one opinion that counts.  That's one opinion that can't be shouted down.  That's the process that decides the course of our country, and too many complain, but not enough participate.  It's more effective than shouting.  It's more effective than protest signs and people blocking freeways.  It's more effective than bumper stickers. 

Next week you can do just that.  So stop ranting on social media and cast a ballot--be part of the solutions.  And you don't have to say a word, engage in a debate, or tick off Uncle Leo at the family reunion.  There are more than enough people shouting. 

Just vote.

~Todd E. Creason, 33°


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