“I came here for a good argument.”
“No, you didn’t. You came here for an argument.”
“Well, an argument’s not the same as contradiction.”
“It can be.”
“No, it can’t! An argument is a connected series of statements to establish a definite proposition.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“Yes, it is! It isn’t just contradiction.”
“Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position.”
“But it isn’t just saying ‘No, it isn’t.’”
“Yes, it is.”
“No, it isn’t! An argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.”
And so the political discussions continue…
The above is actually from a Monty Python skit from the early 1970s. Which proves, once again, some things don’t change.
It’s been said for ages that if you want to start an argument, talk about politics or religion. And, based on the above exchange, I would contend that we are not really having political arguments these days. We are merely having political contradictions – the automatic gainsaying of what the other side says, without any time to consider what has been said.
Proof of this? Check my inbox (or rather, at this point, the deleted folder) of my e-mail here at work. Both parties are so fast on the draw to respond to any comment, speech, ad or other form of communication that the other party has presented, it is obvious that they have taken absolutely no time to consider what has been said by the opposing party.
That is not a debate. That is not an argument. That is merely contradiction.
If they actually thought and tried to argue their case by a “series of statements to establish a definite proposition,” then these e-mails that clog up my virtual desktop might be worth reading. As contradiction, they are not. I can pretty much guess what the message is based solely on the information of who it is from or the subject line.
We are adults – technically. Voting is reserved for those who have reached that magic threshold of age 18, at which time we, for some reason, suddenly become responsible for our own actions and are given the right to vote and buy lottery tickets.
And as responsible adults, we need to look at what we are teaching the children who, we have decided, aren’t nearly as wise as the rest of us and therefore can’t vote.
What are we teaching them? Let’s consider the currently election/government model:
Be a sore loser. Your candidate didn’t win the last time. Therefore, instead of working to make a positive difference to show the voters that your candidate cares and really has our best interests at heart, you would rather go over in the corner and sulk. Then you try to take away everyone else’s toys. Then you try to break things when they still try to go on and play without you.
Be a sore winner. Just don’t win, make sure you rub it in their faces real good. Force the things that you want through despite any objections (real or imagined). This would be the sporting equivalent of running up the score – a lot.
Yell. A lot. In the din of modern media, yelling is apparently the only way to make sure we can hear you as well as to make sure that we think you are correct. Because, surely, those yelling are the ones who are so right about everything, their voice must be heard the clearest.
Take it personally. This isn’t about policy or actual governing. It’s about going after a specific person and making them look worse than your guy (or gal). There has been little discussion on how one candidate or the other will make things better, only how the other has made, or will make, things worse.
Bullying is okay. When faced with a contradictory position, many people – both in and out of campaigns – resort to the adult version of bullying. Try to yell down the other person (see above). Send them nasty messages on Facebook. Shout hateful words at them. Call them names because of who they support. If there is one thing we all remember from school, it is how effective bullying is to make someone else see your point of view.
Lie. No. Really. Go ahead. It’s okay. Because if the people who want to be our leaders (and the people running their image campaign) can do it, so can you. Even something as factual as numbers can be bent to do your will. Take things out of context. See something that supports your candidate or point of view without question? Who cares if it’s wrong! Spread it around as fact and base all of your decisions on information from unknown or dubious sources. It’s even more fun than spreading rumors about who liked who back in elementary school.
With life lessons like these that we are passing on to future generations of voters, I know all of you can join me in a relaxing scream of terror knowing they are likely to continue to do just what we are doing so well.
See everyone on the other side of Tuesday.