A look into political arguments and why the manifestos are really good during the campaign trail but not actually doable once the office was won.
Political arguments are usually obvious manipulation which even the audience recognize it, but doesn’t blunt the orator’s message. Even when the members of the audience are experts in the forms and techniques of arguments.
For example . . .
During the US 2016 Presidential election campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump was all over the map, philosophically speaking. However, his apparent incoherence seemed calculated to support his argument that he was different, unscripted; which could be seen as he wanted to show that he was talking “from the heart”, which he saw as being different from veteran politicians. Trump railed against the elite, even though everyone knew and recognized that he in fact are actually was “one of the elite”. But as we can see, it didn’t matter. His audience members heard what they wanted to hear. He seems to be aligned with them perfectly. This my friend, does illustrates that skilled argument can win even against the most staggering odds.
If we look at sound arguments, we could recognized that sound arguments neither shed lights on a question nor obscures it.
Aristotle knew the power of skilled rhetoric and vainly sought to confine arguments to presenting facts. He would have agreed with US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (and others), ” You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”
But facts and opinions will blur during arguments, as I sometime accidental put myself in, but we need to be skilled in managing such situation. Skilled argument manufactures the facts and sways people. The only defense is better, much refined skilled arguments.
Arguments, much like history or ‘his-story’ are often what determined the facts, and not likely the other way around, especially in politics. That’s why, even with an unfulfilled manifestos, the same politician might be elected during the next election season. Politicians usually take a position and then look for “principled arguments” to back it up, not look up the facts and then take a position. That’s why majority of the policies I knew off, are either whimsical or just plainly not well think off. And if we consider certainties, certainties don’t really exist since “truths” are usually emerged only after arguments and debate. Unless something are measurable, it would be an awfully heavy task to prove a good orator’s wrong.
Arguments involves persuasion.
During an argument, we attempt to convince the other parties of the correctness of our position. But the techniques and tactics of argument will change depending on the discussion’s context, our authority and our believability (our expert-nes in the eye of the other parties or simply how much value our opinion carries).
So, getting better at rhetoric and argument requires understanding the context and rules. Example, an academic who borrows a politician’s technique and tactics of argument will face quick ostracism in a university atmosphere. (Refer to 4 different types of arguments).
This is because unlike the normal discourse at a college, in politics, anything goes, without “boundaries” or rules.
“Spin” defines the process of argument. Spin arrives as a “sound bite”, which sums up a position in a few words such as “death tax” and hopes the audience will use it as shorthand for the entire body of opinion on a complex topic. Many people will oblige.
In politics, most people will tend to hold a deep convictions that place them in one camp or another. Entrenched differences rarely produce a winner, and debates continue for decades. Unpredictably though, a singular events may dramatically alter the standoff.
For example . . . in United States . . .
The debate over the Confederate flag raged for years but quickly evaporated in 2015 when a white supremacist shot and killed black parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina church.
Yet the gun control debate has not reached a tipping point, despite many horrific mass shootings. And since we touch a bit on these, I would love to highlight the following.
As one of God creation on earth, God Almighty has mandated for us to manage this earth with consideration for life. This command is so clearly stated in the Quran and Prophetic sayings. For example:
“Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.”
This beautiful Quranic verse make it clear of the sanctity of a human life.
Even after an old argument seems closed and its adherents appear “converted,” it can return.
Know this, no argument can ever truly ends. Take racism and white supremacy as a clear example.
The civil war didn’t end it. The debate over racial-equality laws lasted decades after civil rights law were passed in the 1950s and 1960s. Even the election and the re-election of a black president didn’t end the racial arguments.
It worth noting that, even as president, Barack Obama faced years of harassment over his citizenship. The spirit of outlawed “poll taxes and literacy tests” permeates recent efforts to make voters have an “identity cards”.
Inspiration from my reading notes on “Winning Arguments”.
Categories: Reading Notes