Welcome to the Mirror Universe (warning: politics)

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Welcome to the Mirror Universe (warning: politics)

Postby admin » Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:41 am

I often feel like all of my relatives live in a universe where Spock has a beard. They are all conservatives, always vote Republican, listen to Rush Limbaugh and think he is the voice of reason, and that Fox News is fair and balanced, though maybe a little too liberal for their taste. Global warming is a liberal lie foisted on the American people by a worldwide conspiracy of scientists who hate business. Barack Obama was born in Kenya and groomed from an early age to establish Shirea Law in America. Liberals are trying to take away their guns, but as Paul Revere warned the British, they will have to pry them from their cold, dead fingers. Liberals want to tax everyone who works for a living until they starve, and give that money away for free to people who are too lazy to work. We also want to kill their grandmother.

In short, liberals are a lot like the ravenous bugblatter beast of Traal.

Nothing I say has any impact at all, so really I'm just venting, here. But if anyone has any suggestions, I'd like to hear them. And if anyone here is a conservative, and considers themselves amenable to logical argument, let's talk.
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Re: Welcome to the Mirror Universe (warning: politics)

Postby Third Foundationer » Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:18 pm

Dear Admin,

I myself am not a conservative, but I have run into the same issue you have. To be fair, I have also run into examples of blinkered liberalism as well, but that was only in college (where a professor angrily corrected a student who said "the Greeks excelled at horsemanship" to say "the Greeks excelled at horsepersonship.")

Not to get too technical here, but I think the issue often comes down to argument styles. I have noticed that often conservatives argue in what would be called the "classical" argument strategy. This strategy allows for no compromise and looks to build an impregnable fortress of ideas. The problem here is that this kind of argument cannot allow a single concession for fear of the entire edifice crumbling down. It's akin a little bit to religious fundamentalism and literalism. On the other hand, I myself prefer Rogerian argument: allowing certain concessions to build goodwill with my "opponent" and looking to find common ground.

I don't see that a lot in current conservative political thought. Regrettably, I am also noticing that liberal politicians are abandoning the Rogerian style and drawing their own battle lines.

The "President Obama was not born in the U.S." meme that is, amazingly, still alive is a great example of classical argument theory. You'll notice that NOT ONE of the conservative pundits has backed off from this. There is a certain immunity to facts and reality one must cultivate to hold certain conservative views (and for that matter, liberal views), and this immunity is not seen as insanity or unreasonableness, but as a laudable resistance to the other side. I imagine that if you tried to argue with your relatives about that one issue, even if you had a copy of the certificate in your hand, you would not meet with success. It is more important to some people to hold a certain ideological view DESPITE facts--and this attribute betrays a fragility to those very same "bedrock values" that one purports to support.

In short, a classical arguer cannot give up even a single point, lest it call into question their entire argument. A six-year-old boy cannot allow that his mommy can possibly be wrong in any way, because if she is, then she might not be perfect and therefore will be unworthy of his love. A mature twenty-year-old allows that his mother raised him to the best of her ability, and while she made some mistakes and has some flaws, she is all the more worthy of his love because of her success desipte those flaws.

Anyway, that's my additional rant to your rant. :)

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Re: Welcome to the Mirror Universe (warning: politics)

Postby slaven41 » Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:08 pm

A friend of mine (actually a Republican in the distant past, now a Democrat) has a number of very right-wing relatives. My friend responded to an email rant from one of them by pointing them to a relevant page at factcheck.org. His relative responded with another rant condemning factcheck.org as a bunch of liberal crap and how dare my friend send him a link to it.

We had a very good speaker on campus last year named Stephen Carter (I think) who talked about the breakdown of civility in politics. He cited Bradbury's Fahrenheit 411 as providing part of the description of the problem. At one point in the book, a character describes the origin of all the bookburning as coming about not because the ideas in the books were subversive or dangerous to the establishment. Rather, people went along with it because the ideas in books were complex, and people hate complexity.

I think this has a lot to do with why people prefer to paint those they disagree with as evil rather than simply wrong or misguided. If you can argue that someone who disagrees with you is evil, that saves you from having to actually refute their argument with a better argument of your own. (And of course, a man who has assumed the presidency illegitimately is obviously evil.) It's much easier to attack a person than to attack his or her policies and/or arguments.

"It's only Neutron. We call him that because he's so positive." --from This Island Earth
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Re: Welcome to the Mirror Universe (warning: politics)

Postby admin » Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:36 am

When I discuss politics, I try to always quickly acknowledge it when the person I'm talking to makes a good point. To me that seems like a strength. My relatives seem to consider that a sign of weakness.

I'm pretty sure that if Rush Limbaugh said that three times five is seventeen, I could not convince them that three times five is fifteen.

It was Stalin who said that the purpose of an argument is not to convince your opponent, the purpose of an argument is to destroy your opponent.
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Re: Welcome to the Mirror Universe (warning: politics)

Postby Brightonian » Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:53 am

admin wrote:It was Stalin who said that the purpose of an argument is not to convince your opponent, the purpose of an argument is to destroy your opponent.

Sadly too many of today's politicos seem to think the same way: they act as if winning a shouting match is the same as winning an argument, and winning an argument in a TV or radio studio is the same as convincing the voters who are listening at home.
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