I detest political debate.
Actually, I don’t mind genuine debate – considered discussion of the salient points on a particular topic. But that is rarely what we get; we get rhetoric.
So to be more precise, I detest political rhetoric.
And by the way, I’m not particularly talking about the candidates. I’m talking about the rest of us. And, I’m not talking about one party more than any other; there is abominable behavior on both sides.
Someone reading thus far is probably thinking – “Doesn’t it sort of have to be that way? You said it yourself…both sides. We are taking political sides, and by the nature of debate it has to be somewhat divisive doesn’t it?”
My answer – No! No it doesn’t! It is possible to disagree without concluding my opponent is either a villain or a fool.
It’s possible, but perhaps not easy; it takes effort.
Life experiences have taught me certain things and formed my beliefs. I want to stress that – MY BELIEFS. Believe it or not – I believe my beliefs. People mistakenly think politics is about facts. It isn’t – It’s about beliefs.
Any proponent of any political position can cite facts. There are two sides to any argument, cliché I know – but true. By definition there has to be, or there wouldn’t be an argument. Pick a political topic. I can cite my favorite facts that support my belief. And since I am a good and intelligent person, all good and intelligent people will have to agree with me. If they don’t, they are either not so good or not so intelligent.
But facts are not the end of the matter. First of all, no one has all the facts. Secondly, facts only lead us to a conclusion. There are facts that support my position, but if I am honest, there are others that don’t.
There are some facts that I sort of ignore because, either they didn’t find their way to me as early or as forcibly as others, or I just don’t find them convenient. But they are still out there, and someone else DID discover them earlier, and they DO fit their life experiences and they DO coincide with their beliefs, and they ARE facts after all – and since they don’t persuade me, I must be stupid or evil or both.
And – we hate each other.
We post our favorite facts on Facebook (nice bit alliteration that), and our like-minded friends cheer wildly, congratulating each other for settling the matter so decisively.
But NO ONE from the opposing camp EVER reads our golden fact, considers its perfect logic, and renounces their evil, stupid position forever. Not one, not ever.
And – we hate each other a little more.
Don’t get me wrong. I have political convictions. I believe there is right and wrong, or at least better or worse on most issues, but it is preposterous to believe that there is absolutely no valid argument on the other side. There are people on the other side. They don’t just spin a wheel and decide to be difficult. They believe their beliefs.
Sometimes they frustrate me. I don’t understand how or why they believe what they believe, but – and this is my main point – I try to believe they must have reasons that seem good and logical to them. When I am successful in believing that, it’s much easier not to hate them.
The hatred is what concerns me. It’s why I detest political rhetoric; it fosters hatred.
Because we don’t debate; we spout rhetoric intended to incite passion, but not reason.
Passion is good, but it should be tempered with reason. John Adams said: Reason holds the helm, but the passions are the gales.
In other words, you can’t get anywhere without the gales, but anywhere is where you’ll get without manning the helm. In yet other words, reason without passion is impotent; passion without reason is reckless.
Benjamin Franklin said: United we stand, divided we fall. He was a pretty wise old sage; he paraphrased that from the Bible: A house divided against itself cannot stand.
I’m not excited about any of my choices for President, but I’ll tell you very honestly – I’m not terribly worried about them either. Presidents come and Presidents go, but if we don’t stop hating each other, it won’t matter who is President.
I may be preaching to the choir. This is a book blog and I’m just naïve enough to believe that “readers” might be a bit above the bar. Experience seems to validate this as I’ve seen very little political discussion on bookish blogs. Thank Goodness!
My apologies for this one-time, non-partisan political post. Hopefully it will be my one and only.
I’ll be glad when the election is over.