Who ever yells the loudest or has the best sound bite smear wins in the politics of personality.
I will try and make this my last post about personality in politics.
It has been my experience that when talking about politics, people tend to raise their voices. Why? Here are some of my thoughts on why this happens:
- It makes you sound more confident about your position.
- It makes you sound like you are more of an authority on the matter.
- It makes you sound passionate.
- It’s a relatively polite way of saying (without really saying) your debating opponent is wrong and that you are right.
- It is an effort to intimidate your debating opponent.
Well, take your pick. Either way, it is more about style than substance. Living in a predominantly liberal state I have the distinct pleasure of seeing Obama signs and bumper stickers everywhere. When I happen to bring up anything remotely political, I get one of two responses. The first is a sheepish answer that indicates I don’t really want to talk about it. The second is generally a very self-assured liberal answer that seems to indicate, I’m voting for Obama, aren’t you?
I don’t mind disagreeing with people (although it has taken me a long time to get to that point), but I do mind not being able to disagree in a manner that allows a reasonable conversation. Because I am what I consider to be a conservative Republican, I can only write about this from my perspective, but I am sure that much of what I have to say is observed from the liberal Democrats point of view as well.
I have found that whenever I enter a discussion about politics with an Obama supporter (who is likely a left-leaning individual), it invariably starts and ends with discussing the personalities of the two candidates. I find myself trying to acknowledge what they are saying in order to prove that I am listening to what they are saying while I try to steer the discussion to something of more substance. Unfortunately, that is not where we spend most time in discussion. A typical conversation might go like this:
MW: What do you think about Obama’s foreign policy positions?
Conversational Partner: I think he wants to improve America’s standing in the world.
MW: Ok. What about the possibility of him meeting with the president of Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela without precondition?
CP: He didn’t really mean it. And besides, if we talk to them, then we can reach agreements on how to get along better.
MW: But he said it, and hasn’t really changed his official position. Won’t that validate the types of regimes that are dangerous to our national security?
CP: John McCain is too old to be president, we’ll end up having Sarah Palin as president and she doesn’t have any experience.
MW: (Quizzical look on my face as I try to understand where the conversation went and how to pick it up again.) Huh?
Some of the problem is that conversations don’t seem to have the luxury of time. Time to flesh out the details of positions and ideas. Instead, we try to communicate in sound bites regurgitating the latest from our favorite news provider or commentator. That’s too bad because people are worth talking to, not shouting at. It’s one of the features of our country that make us a great nation that hasn’t devolved into bloody confrontations every time there is a national election.
Well, enough of my time and thoughts have been printed here.