Monday, October 10, 2016

I don't understand politics

Political conversations are boring.
Not that political conversations aren't about important issues. The conversations are boring because no progress is ever made.

Side Note: I might use hyperbole and exaggeration throughout this post. I realize when I say things like "always" and "never" that's rarely actually true. But it helps me express my thoughts. If you want to argue my exaggerations - go right ahead and try. But I rarely accept invitations to arguments.

When people say they want to have a political conversation, what they really mean is, "I want to share my political opinion about a certain issue or candidate. I don't care about your opinion because you're wrong, unless you agree with me completely. In that case, I agree with you completely. If you start talking about your opinion that is different than my opinion, I won't listen to anything you have to say. Instead I will ridicule you and call you names."

Why would I want to participate in that? I wouldn't - ever.

I see futile forms of discourse.

1. My candidate is better than your candidate.

By itself, this is a fine position, an expected statement of opinion. I would expect supporters of one candidate to consider their candidate the best. However, this sentiment is rarely ever stated as an opinion. The "conversation" usually goes something like this:
"My candidate is good because ... blah blah blah.
Your candidate is bad because ... yada yada yada."

The opposing supporter then counters with:
"No, my candidate is good because ... yada yada yada and your candidate is bad because blah blah blah."

"No, you're wrong. My candidate is better than yours. Your candidate is guilty of x, y and z."
"Well you're an idiot because my candidate is better than your candidate because your candidate is guilty of x, y and z."

"I'm rubber, you're glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you."
"I know you are but what am I?"
"I know you are but what am I? Infinity."

It's fine to believe your candidate is better than the other one. But your belief isn't fact - it's still an opinion. And if your opinion is valuable, why isn't someone else's opinion also valuable? Too many people seem to believe that only their opinion is valid.

If your opinion is based on a lie, it's not an opinion; it's a lie.

Trump supporters would say that anyone who supports Clinton is basing their opinion on a lie, making that opinion invalid.
Clinton supporters would say that anyone who supports Trump is basing their opinion on a lie, making that opinion invalid.

Which brings me to the second typical attempt at political discussion.

2. Each side only sees the good in their candidate and only sees the bad in the other candidate.

Anything Trump does wrong, or has ever done wrong is excused by Trump supporters. They will dismiss the wrong-doing as being not that bad, or an attempt by Clinton supporters to smear Trump, or blame it on liberal media.

Anything Clinton does wrong, or has ever done wrong is excused by Clinton supporters for the same reasons. Each group has blinders on for their own candidates flaws, and a spotlight for the other candidates flaws.

Take an act of questionable morality - any act will do. People will attack the other candidate for that act, while excusing the identical act in their own candidate. "If my candidate lies, it's not really that bad. If the other candidate lies they should be thrown in prison." And I don't think people even recognize the double standard.

3. Very few people are actually voting FOR a candidate.

So much of the rhetoric I hear is based on how bad the other candidate is which is why you have to vote for my candidate.

I'm not sure I've heard anyone say, "I'm voting for Trump because he's an wonderful man and will make a great president." Instead, Trump supporters just say they're voting for Trump because they refuse to allow Clinton in the office.

I'm not sure I've heard anyone say, "I'm voting for Clinton because she's a wonderful woman and will make a great president." Instead, Clinton supporters just say they're voting for Clinton because they refuse to allow Trump in the office.

How sad that so many people are casting negative votes.

4. There is so much exaggeration, on both sides.

Regardless of which candidate they support, people insist that if the other candidate is elected, it will be the end of the world!

If Trump is elected, he'll do some stupid things, he'll embarrass himself and the country, and in four years the US will still be fine. The country and the world will go on.

If Clinton is elected, she'll do some stupid things, she'll embarrass herself, she'll make mistakes, and in four years the US will still be fine. The country and the world will go on.

We'll be fine, no matter who is elected. In four years we'll either elect the incumbent, or we'll elect a new president - and the country will go on. We'll each go about our daily activities. We'll have good days and bad days. Parts of our lives will improve, and other parts will be worse.

And the President of the United States will have no responsibility nor credit for how I'm doing in four years.

If you really want to have a conversation with someone, about any topic, be willing to set aside your own viewpoint. Make your priority understanding the other person's perspective. Listen to them, really listen. Once you understand them, and they agree that you understand their opinion only then is the time to move the focus to your side.
"Would you like to hear my thoughts?"
If they say, "Yes," then share.
If they say, "No, then move on.
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