Monday, March 5, 2012

Proper Political Discourse

I found the following editor's note on one of my favorite blogs:

"We encourage our writers & readers to focus their comments on principles & issues (pro and con) rather than on personal character attacks or party against party politics; and to point to solutions where possible. Ugly, emotional comments (especially profanity) are discouraged, will be edited or removed, and may lead to the permanent removal of its author from our community of friends. As a private enterprise we claim the right of offering something unique in politics. Please help us keep it that way. If you feel any writer or community member is consistently violating this standard, please let me know." (The Moral Liberal)

This short paragraph holds a few very crucial keys to effective political discourse.

First, we should place emphasis on concepts and issues, not people. How unnecessary is it when a candidate is more intent on bashing their opponent than on promoting their own ideas or agenda? More important than attacking what you are against is promoting what you are for.

Second, we need solutions. We already know there are problems; and these problems will not go away by talking them to death (well, maybe some of them will). Problems are resolved when people, often those who are in disagreement, come together to propose, discuss, and enact solutions. Politics is not about slamming the other party, or attacking an opponent. Its about solving problems. We don't "win" in politics by being more rude than the other guy. We win when we show true leadership.

Third, comments that serve no purpose other than to elicit an emotional response, induce fear, anger, or shame only exacerbate our society's problems and do not contribute to the progression of political discourse; in fact, these things turn people away from politics. Profanity,  name-calling, generalizations, and degrading remarks are unbecoming of participating citizens in any democratic system.

Lastly, (and this one is implied in the quote) is credibility. If we want to be heard, recognized and persuasive, we need credibility. We lose credibility when we make personal character attacks, show no interest in possible solutions, or resort to name-calling and vague generalizations in order to prove our point.