Friday, August 31, 2012

Political Debate over Facts vs. Belief

If you hold beliefs opposite of me, or think a policy is good and I think it's bad, then I am more than willing to engage in a debate of ideas with you. However, a debate of ideas is based on fact. For instance, if you think we should have school vouchers because it gives poor kids a chance of an excellent education and I don't because I think all our money and efforts should be poured into making our public schools the best in the world. That is a debate of ideas. And I will gladly spend hours on that. And even though I'll think you're wrong, I will be willing to debate your ideas because you present an argument based on facts.
Here's what is not a debate- when your argument is based solely on your beliefs, often in direct opposition to facts. For instance:
  1. If you believe gays are evil and therefore shouldn't have the exact same civil rights as everyone else or are somehow part of a conspiracy to bring down our civilization.
  2. If you think evolution is some sort of conspiracy theory. Bonus points for idiocy if you believe dinosaurs are tricks placed in the ground by the Devil because the world is only 6,000 years old.
  3. If you believe that Christian morality should become law. If it were any other religion stating that they were going to make their religion the law of the land (say, I don't know, Islam) you would throw a frakking fit. The United States of America is not a Christian nation- "AMERICA IS NOT, IN ANY SENSE, FOUNDED ON THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION." The Treaty of Tripoli, 1797 - Signed Unanimously by Congress and President Adams.
  4. If you believe abortion should be illegal. It's perfectly fine for you to think it's immoral. However, you have no right to impose your religious/moral views on me (see above point). If you're so worried about lowering the number of abortions then raise better Christians. You have control over that- not my body.
  5. If you believe that rape is ever because she asked for, dressed cheaply, or otherwise indicated it was something she wanted.
  6. If you believe funding the arts somehow weakens our civilization instead of raising it up.
  7. If you think climate change is made up.
And here's the problem when it comes down to Republican vs. Democrats. Too many highly visible Republicans are arguing the above. Don't believe me? Well, let's go down the above list:
  1. It isn’t that some gay will get some rights. It’s that everyone else in our state will lose rights. For instance, parents will lose the right to protect and direct the upbringing of their children. Because our K-12 public school system, of which ninety per cent of all youth are in the public school system, they will be required to learn that homosexuality is normal, equal and perhaps you should try it. And that will occur immediately, that all schools will begin teaching homosexuality.” ~ Michele Bachmann (New Civil Rights Movement)
  2. "I think there is a theory, a theory of evolution, and I don't accept it. ... The creator that I know created us, each and every one of us and created the universe, and the precise time and manner. ... I just don't think we're at the point where anybody has absolute proof on either side." Ron Paul Remarks made at a state Republican Party meeting in Spartanburg, S.C., Nov. 1, 2007
  3. "Yes, religion and politics do mix. America is a nation based on biblical principles. Christian values dominate our government. The test of those values is the Bible. Politicians who do not use the bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office." ---Beverly LaHaye (Concerned Women for America) and "I don't know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." --- George Bush Senior
  4. Since 1992, the official Republican platform opposed abortion even in the cases of rape, incest and severe risk to the life of the mother.  
  5. “A jury could very well conclude that this is a case of buyer’s remorse … It appears to me … you invited him over… the appearance is of consent.” - Ken Buck October 2010 
  6. “Public Broadcasting is a sandbox for the rich. The NEA and the HEH are simply enclaves of the left using your money to propagandize your children against your values.” -- Newt Gingrich
  7. "I believe the earth gets warmer and I also believe the earth gets cooler. And I think history points out that it does that and that the idea that man, through the production of CO2 — which is a trace gas in the atmosphere, and the man-made part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas — is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all the other factors, El Niño, La Niña, sunspots, moisture in the air. ... To me, this is an opportunity for the left to create — it's really a beautifully concocted scheme because they know that the earth is gonna cool and warm." --- Rick Santorum The Rush Limbaugh Show, June 8, 2011

  • As happens every election season, the debate of ideas seems to be drowned out by the screaming "believers". In a world where public shootings are getting worse not better; where people are dying due to issues with healthcare; where veterans are returning to few, if any options; where getting an education is no longer a guarantee of a better life; there seems as though there is a huge need for a public debate on these issues. And yet, these issues are being ignored in favor of sound bites from crazy people who are screaming their beliefs, and passing them off as facts to the American public.
  • Unfortunately, the quotes above represent the public face of the Republican Party. So if you wonder why intelligent, reasoning people lump together ALL Republicans with the crazies above, it may be because they are the only ones we're hearing from.
  •  Regardless of your own political views, I encourage you this election season to engage in a debate of ideas instead of a screaming match of beliefs.

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