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Why being civil is both morally and strategically the right way to have political discourse

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posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 04:32 PM
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The political discourse in the US and even around the world seems to be becoming more heated. It seems that in the public sphere, reasoned arguments between people that disagree are rarely seen, and instead the most extreme voices on both sides are elevated and given the most attention.

If this trend continues, we may start to see a further decline of trust among people with different opinions, and violence may become more commonplace.

It is tempting to view issues of name calling, mud slinging, or advocacies for violence as a moral question, and to condemn it based on that.

But the truth is people often have quite good reasons to feel morally justified in using these tactics, as these same tactics have been used against them.

SO rather you been a Trump supporter or a Hillary supporter, or anyone else for that matter, you have probably been called names, insulted, or perhaps even had violence against you recommended. Therefore, you feel justified in reciprocating that behavior.

(Full disclosure, as a Trump supporter, I feel that those in power with our cultural institutions, Hollywood, the msm, academia, silicon valley, etc., have attacked trump supporters way more than the other side. However, my bias on which side is worse or started it is irrelevant to this op, as I believe it doesnt matter who started it it is all bad)

Seeing as how that level of discussion rarely changes anyones mind, it seems that there is another level of why these tactics of insulting or advocating violence is wrong. That is that it is ineffective.

Presumably most people have discussions about politics or other ideological thoughts to learn and impart knowledge to others. In the realm of politics, we often seek to push for our political ideology or side to gather increased support, and have their policies implemented. To do that, we need to get people to agree with us, both in the public sphere and quite literally at the polling stations during elections.

There seems to be roughly 5 groups of people we can be targeting when having discussions.

Those that:

strongly agree with us

lean towards agreeing with us

are somewhere in the middle or indifferent

lean towards disagreeing with us

strongly disagree with us



If we are honest, although conversations with those that strongly agree or disagree with us can be entertaining or cathartic, often times there is a very small chance we will be able to convince these people of changing their position (though it is certainly possible and worth having discussions)

It is the other three groups that we primarily have a chance of persuading more towards our beliefs. I would argue that nbo matter what side we are coming from in trying to persuade people, the people in these three categories will usually be less likely to be extreme than the other two groups.

In other words, the people most likely to be persuaded thru conversation arent extremists.

Once we realize that, it should give us an understanding what tactics would be most likely to be successful in persuading these people.

Now I am not going to go off on the in and outs of persuasion theory, but there is one area I want to focus on.

In general; using insults or threats or violence will turn off way more of these people that it convinces to agree with you.

SO in practice: if you are a Trump supporter that wants people to understand or support his policies more; I dont think calling trumps opponents insults based off of their looks or sexual behavior etc. is effective. Nor do I think insulting all supporters of those people as dumb or ugly etc., is effective. (Thats not to say insults cant be effective, but it should be tactful and focused on ideas, not the characteristics I mentioned above.)

Using these strategies will probably make most of the target audience not take us seriously, as it diminishes any well thought out arguments we have for our position by making us seem too petty or vindictive to be taken seriously.

On the other end, say you are a progressive that thinks trump is a racist and all of his supporters are as well (clearly I disagree). You still want to win elections, and so you should be trying to get as many people to agree with you as possible. If you call everyone who disagrees with you a racist, or you say we need to punch nazis and these people are nazis, you drive away the people you may have been able to persuade.

If more people from all sides would stop using these tactics, not only would all of the individuals be better at convincing people of their thoughts, but the discourse in this country might come down a little.

Lastly, I know if I read this OP I would think the person that wrote it was a smug know it all, so I understand if thats the impression this gives.

I just want to say I fail at my own advice here just about everyday, both on an off ATS. I am petty, arrogant, self centered, smug, insulting, condescending, and many more things. I am not saying I am better than anyone.

I just know that when I am most effective at persuading people, I am following my own advice here, so I need to try to do a better job of it.





posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 04:44 PM
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Civil and politics shouldn't be in the same paragraph let alone the same sentence these days. Maybe the definition of civil changed in the last decade or so.

The phrase "you are either with us or against us" should be banned from civilizations across the world.
edit on 7-1-2019 by rickymouse because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 04:45 PM
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a reply to: Grambler

When reason and logic fail at persuasion, then what else is there?

It gets tiring to constantly type. . "What policies do you disagree with?"

I know, Orange Man Bad, but what policies make him Hitler, a dictator?


I was against Obama, because of his policies. I disagreed with his policies.

I'm fairly simple, and simple-minded. I'll put something to the Constitutional test. If it doesn't infringe on my rights or freedoms, or infringe on the rights and freedoms of others, I'm pretty much cool with just about anything.


But it has to pass the Constitutional test.


So far, Trump has done nothing to infringe upon my rights. Oh, it could be argued about passing the latest version of the Patriot Act, that pissed me off, but other than that?

He doesn't want to raise taxes, he doesn't want to take my money for socialized medicine, he is good to the vets and wants to secure the borders.

*shrugs*

I don't see why people hate him so much other than they want open borders, higher taxes, and fewer freedoms.



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 04:45 PM
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originally posted by: rickymouse
Civil and politics shouldn't be in the same paragraph let alone the same sentence these days. Maybe the definition of civil changed in the last decade or so.


Do you like how politics is going these days?

If not, perhaps its time to bring civil back.



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 04:47 PM
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a reply to: Grambler

I try to stay away from arguments that involve pure opinions. Nothing much can be gained, but a a lot can be lost. I will discuss facts with people, and allow them to come to their own conclusions. Sometimes folks don't have the facts in a particular case, and by sharing with them you you share understanding.

I really don't enjoy folks who ignore facts, however, or dismiss them as fake, when they clearly are not.

That being said, too many studies have been done that show that many people don't care about facts, and have an internal need to remain consistent that overrides their ability to process information that contradicts their preconceived notions.

I have a friend who says that his rifle shoots better the longer he goes without cleaning the barrel. Well, lead and copper builds up over time, and the rifling cannot "grab" the bullet as well, and when it does it does so unevenly. But he swears by an uncleaned barrel. Just runs a patch through it once a season to keep off rust.

Lucky for him he hunts in Pennsylvania brush, where his shots are under 75 yards!



edit on 7-1-2019 by FilthyUSMonkey because: sp



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 04:48 PM
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a reply to: Grambler

How do you have a rational and logical debate/discussion when the left isn't rational and logical?

No matter your policy disagreement, it is because of racism, sexism, classism, or some other ism. Facts and logic don't matter.



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 04:48 PM
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a reply to: DBCowboy

Pretty bad when the people at ATS are using more logic and reasoning then the rest of the population in America.

We are getting left behind, more conspiracies and misconceptions are in the newspapers than in these forums these days. I guess we need to start throwing up alien conversations that are not about coming across the border from Mexico.



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 04:48 PM
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a reply to: DBCowboy

Those are all reasonable things to point out.

But if you start throwing insults to anyone reading that, people would tune out.

If you make your point and no one listens, all you can do is continue to make your point.

Eventually, it may catch on.

But the counter question if someone doesnt listen to you, has insulting ever helped?

I would say that if we look at it honestly, even if results are not good on either strategy, you are more likely in the long run to have success without the insults.



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 04:52 PM
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originally posted by: Edumakated
a reply to: Grambler

How do you have a rational and logical debate/discussion when the left isn't rational and logical?

No matter your policy disagreement, it is because of racism, sexism, classism, or some other ism. Facts and logic don't matter.



I don't imagine that an argument like this could ever help. Make the team you are on feel good? Maybe. But help foster understanding and true discussion. Mostly not.



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 04:52 PM
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originally posted by: Edumakated
a reply to: Grambler

How do you have a rational and logical debate/discussion when the left isn't rational and logical?

No matter your policy disagreement, it is because of racism, sexism, classism, or some other ism. Facts and logic don't matter.



Well first, remember many on the left thinks the exact same thing about the right, so as frustarted as you feel, those people would as well.

Yes, there are people like you say, they would be the people that strongly disagree with you that I mentioned.

Even when having discussions with them, you should be targeting the other audeinces, the people who are in between, slightly agree or slightly disagree with you. Especially on a site like ATS where many people are reading and not giving input.

Those people do listen to facts, and will be turned off by insults.



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 04:53 PM
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originally posted by: rickymouse
a reply to: DBCowboy

Pretty bad when the people at ATS are using more logic and reasoning then the rest of the population in America.





I am actually optimistic.

I think more and more people are getting tired of the extremists. I think that is why the msm is losing influence, and we see alt platforms taking off.



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 04:54 PM
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originally posted by: Grambler

originally posted by: rickymouse
Civil and politics shouldn't be in the same paragraph let alone the same sentence these days. Maybe the definition of civil changed in the last decade or so.


Do you like how politics is going these days?

If not, perhaps its time to bring civil back.


But how? Even a good elected congressman gets caught up in what a few people are stirring up in DC and if they don't follow, their chances of getting help for the people they represent gets ignored and denied.



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 04:54 PM
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Nice sentiments but it will fall on deaf ears because of a victim mentality we see here all to often. The claim that they would behave better but it's the other side that are rude or irrational.

In this thread we already see it (in this case from right wing members but I am sure there are left wing equivalents).

Sad but there you go. Staff would be as well turning the whole site into the Mud Put.



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 04:59 PM
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originally posted by: Grambler
a reply to: DBCowboy

Those are all reasonable things to point out.

But if you start throwing insults to anyone reading that, people would tune out.

If you make your point and no one listens, all you can do is continue to make your point.

Eventually, it may catch on.

But the counter question if someone doesnt listen to you, has insulting ever helped?

I would say that if we look at it honestly, even if results are not good on either strategy, you are more likely in the long run to have success without the insults.


When logic and reason fail, then why not have some fun?

Dear gods in Valhalla!

Republicans, democrats. They are all screwing us over! We're in different jail cells and one side says their bars are pretty and the other side says their bars are prettier!

Trump was a wild-card that pissed off both sides.

So sometimes all we can do is laugh, be smart asses, and occasionally an asshole.

Why?

We'll never convince the prisoner in the cell over there that our bars are prettier.

So might as well laugh while we can and are still allowed to!



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 05:00 PM
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a reply to: Grambler

Throughout history politics has been uncivil far more often than it has been civil. I don't understand why now, suddenly people are aghast at the uncivility of the dirtiest profession in the world. Thomas Jefferson called John Addams a hermaphrodite, Addams called Jefferson's wife a woman of loose morals and polygamist, Aaron Burr dueled and killed Alexander Hamilton after Hamilton called Burr morally bankrupt, Rep Preston Brooks beat Sen. Charles Sumner nearly to death with a walking cane topped by a gold metal eagle head on the Senate floor 160 years ago, the American Civil War, Andrew Jackson whipping that ass, GW Bush being portrayed as a chimp, William McKinley's assassination following his opponent claiming he was a corporate stooge, Assassinations of major civil rights leaders and JFK, and who could forget McCarthyism? You're calling for civility on an issue which, by its very nature, is a dog fight at best. How else could something which so drastically impacts our rights, our income, and our overall path through life be treated than with all guns blazing to get whatever we each are insistent upon receiving?



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 05:00 PM
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originally posted by: rickymouse

originally posted by: Grambler

originally posted by: rickymouse
Civil and politics shouldn't be in the same paragraph let alone the same sentence these days. Maybe the definition of civil changed in the last decade or so.


Do you like how politics is going these days?

If not, perhaps its time to bring civil back.


But how? Even a good elected congressman gets caught up in what a few people are stirring up in DC and if they don't follow, their chances of getting help for the people they represent gets ignored and denied.


Be the person you want to be. Let others take care of themselves.




posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 05:01 PM
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a reply to: DBCowboy

Well we all have discussions for our own reasons I guess.

I would rather get more people to agree with me when discussing politics, but if you think that is unattainable and just want to haave fun thats perfectly fine as well.

However, that is exactly what the trolls think, and we hardly need more of them in my opinion.



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 05:02 PM
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a reply to: burdman30ott6

Which of those incidents you cite helped the person or group enganged in the incivility?



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 05:04 PM
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If you give an inch, they take a mile.

Civility went out the window years ago.



posted on Jan, 7 2019 @ 05:07 PM
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I get what you're saying but ATS is the wrong platform.

If you look back through some of my old threads on 9/11 I used to really get in depth in stuff, and I mean really in-depth. Back then debates were actually kind of interesting. Now ATS is like a clash between two rival sports teams with a few of us in the middle just enjoying the game. You cannot really expect either team to be civl to the other team and I personally gave up expecting much sense out of either team a long time ago.

It frustrates me at times that you cannot just say I disagree with you because x,y and z and get a decent repay or that you cannot simply state a opinion without be labelled as either a libtard or a racist nazi who hates puppies. I also get really pissed at the level of arrogance. Like you OP I am arrogant but I like to think I am not so arrogant that I think my opinions are more worthy than those of others or that people who disagree with me are mentally ill.

I have come to believe that when it comes to online forums civil political debate is a thing of myth. Its sad but its true, just read over any Trump thread and count the number of times phase like "Libtard", "Joke", "pathetic", "retarded", "Nazi", "Cult" ect are used.

Also, in my opinion (see what I did there), You don't need to end everyone of your threads with a Youtube video of you basically saying the same thing.

Meh I dont really care am off to get drunk, watch a move and have fun with Mrs Coin, much better than waisting a night getting into another pointless debate.

edit on 7-1-2019 by OtherSideOfTheCoin because: (no reason given)



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