Dialogue On!

Jim, good post to start the year. I mostly agree. You’re right about Super PAC money, though the only reason you’re not seeing more from the Democratic side right now is that they know who their candidate will be. Once we get to the summer of 2012, there will be plenty of Super PAC money flowing on both sides. (As I’ve pointed out before, as recently as the 1996 election, Bill Clinton raised a mere 35 million, and there wasn’t super PAC money as the Court hadn’t yet made the activist decision of Citizen’s United. This year, Obama expects to raise a half a billion dollars, and the official money spent by the campaigns will be dwarfed by that spent by Super PACS on both sides.) The main reason or way that money buys elections is through television ads. You have to remember that the majority of the country pays no attention (surveys often show less than half the country can name the vice president), and yet they vote, and the only information they get about the candidates is through endlessly repeated television spots, which of course, unlike ads for say, toothpaste, are not subject to libel and slander laws. They are pure propaganda.
Of course I select facts that make my case! That is what you do. That is why I need a loyal opposition, to point out facts I have been blind to. If I saw the facts in my blind spot, it wouldn’t be a blind spot. (I’ve never been compared to a PAC before; would that I had the power of one.) If you’ve seen conclusions I’ve leapt to, make the case. Be specific. Otherwise, we simply exist in the world of Stephen Colbert, where facts are no more than what we “feel” are facts. At least Colbert is funny. Otherwise, we’re in the world of your friend Gary, where stuff is just made up. If you smell inconclusive logic, call it out. The dialogue has to help both of us make our positions stronger, make our cases better, or else it has no function. It really does me or the dialogue no good to say “I’ve studied the facts and so have decided and am just too lazy to cite them or give specifics as to why I disagree with you.” That is when I tune out.
You again make a false equivalence between arguments. Simply saying that Social Security is screwed unless we privatize it and that unions lead to more opportunity are both false doesn’t make it so. You are at your best when you guide the tone back to the civil, leading to good conclusions. You are at your weakest when you split the middle between two differing arguments and assume the truth is in the middle. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t, but the fact it is the midpoint between two extremes has nothing to do with its validity. (You again cite the pipeline. I made detailed points and cited much evidence why I am against it. You apparently have decided it is a good idea and so you don’t need to make the case. If you don’t need to for yourself, that’s fine, but don’t expect me to accept that it is good on faith because you have convinced yourself. I need evidence.)
Everyone chooses facts that support their position. That isn’t vanity, it is simply how debate and argument works. The point of dialogue is for both sides to put facts and logic out there and hopefully help both sides come to a fuller understanding. It is vain only to the extent that you or I or anyone has ever tried to make a point. I do try to be deliberate and careful, and I try to call a spade a spade. Issues are complex, and many can be boiled down to simpler truths. If we don’t try to do that, I’m lost as to what the point is. I find it a copout to say that things are too complex to have a position on. And frankly, I think it is impossible to exist in America without supporting in some way (shopping, etc.) big corporations we do not wholly approve of. If I thought I could, I would think I was just being incredibly naive. That’s not to say we shouldn’t try; we should. To think the big corporations care or are threatened by us is just wishful thinking.

About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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