Monday, December 5, 2011

What It Means To Talk About Politics-Part II

It is often said that you should not talk about politics and religion at social gatherings. Why is that?

I’ve made wrote this other political discourse and what it means. This last post talked about how talking politics is of such importance that it should not be discussed the way sports are discussed because we are talking about people’s lives, not some inconsequential dramatic event for us to live vicariously through.

That’s just the first step.

Most political issues are not questions of absolute right and wrong. Take the economy for example. You can find experts in economics, people who spend their entire lives in the field who both support Obama’s economic policies and others who are against them. These people who understand the intricacies of our economy in ways that most of us can barely comprehend cannot come to a consensus, so how can we talk about this issues like we have it all figured it out? Are you really smarter about this issue then all of these people who disagree with you?

If you are holding an opinion about something that is highly debatable, then you really are holding an “opinion” which when discussed is a very different thing then arguing a “fact.”

The President Of The United States’ job is to make difficult and unpopular decisions. If something was a no-brainers and easy issue to address it would never reach the president’s desk. The decisions Obama has to make include information and subtleties that most people never understand, so is it fair to form opinions without knowing all of the facts?

Have you ever read a bill that that a president has signed? I got about two hundred pages into the No Child Left Behind Act before giving up. Try this sometimes, read a bill that you are passionate about and then you will really know what you're talking about.

I’m not saying that in order to have an opinion about a political issue you have to know everything about it and read all of the policy. What I’m saying is that when you discuss a political issue more often than not people who are smarter than disagree with you, you do not have all the facts and you probably haven’t actually read first hand what you’re even talking about. That’s ok, but what that means is that you can’t discuss a political issue with a “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality.

What about the other issues, the ones that are black and white? Let’s just say that you are actually have a Master’s in economics and have read the tax code. Or like me feel that the equal rights of homosexuals is about right and wrong. Well, just because someone is wrong doesn’t mean you get to be a jerk about it.

Are you discussing your opinion to help someone understand your side as being right or see their stance as being wrong? And yes, those are two different things.  Sometimes the best of us fall in the latter category and ti's really not a great place to be.

The strength of a political argument is in showing respect and understanding of the opposing position and starting with their perspective to help them understand yours.  Condescension does not change people's minds, but a willingness to listen and learn can change the world.

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