No, Really: Do You Have ANY Idea What You Are Saying?

I have an old fraternity brother who is politically liberal, and he recently put on his Facebook status, “I still don’t understand how anyone can believe that cutting taxes, especially for the super rich, helps the economy.”

I sent him one comment in response:  “Do you know that it doesn’t from your studies in Economics?”

I personally seem to identify most with the Libertarian party’s values.  I’m a small government kind of guy, not a “small-government-but-let’s-ban-gay-marriage” kind of guy.  Irrespective of my own political views, my comment was designed to point out what we so often forget:  Most of us have absolutely no idea what we are talking about.

Ron paul was booed at one of the Republican debates after he said that he believed we brought 9/11 on ourselves.  It’s obvious why:  Who could possibly think we had any part in that attack?  They hate us for our freedom and prosperity, right?  A laundry list of historical facts supports his belief on that matter (not necessarily my own, BTW), but the crowd did not want to hear it.  For them, it is an open wound, and Paul is a traitor for thinking we, us, America, could be anything but infallible about that whole situation.  They (the voters) are ignorant of the facts, unable to imagine life from another peoples’ perspective, and thinking with their hearts.  Jeff Foxworthy said once about marriage on his comedy album “Totally Committed” (I couldn’t find a link to it online), “If she ain’t happy, you ain’t happy.”  When some guys in the audience proudly booed his opinion, he said simply, “Booin’ it doesn’t make it less true.”

I understand the thinking behind cutting taxes to spur the economy, but I don’t know if it actually works other than in theory.  The thing is, I know that I don’t know.  

Why can’t people admit that things are never as simple as they seem in soundbites, and that voting based on emotion is possibly the most irrational thing they could do?  Recently a long-time acquaintance of mine put on Facebook that he would be voting for Obama after years of voting for Republicans, for no other reason than because Obama had just come out in defense of gay marriage.  He is gay, and so that was his impetus to switch parties.  This is pure lunacy, in my opinion.  Regardless of what President Obama’s opinions on gay marriage are, he has literally no power to do anything about gay marriage’s current state.  It remains a states’ rights issue, and would have to be passed by Congress to become federal law.  He is throwing a vote at one miniscule issue in an election where the economy and our country’s future viability is at stake.  Any port in a storm, I guess.

The fact is, if you want to be someone who has an opinion that people will actually listen to, you need to dig deeper than the talking points you’ve heard on O’Reilly or Rachel Maddow.  Have a little history to back up your stance.  Illustrate why your opinion is correct based on facts, trends, and historical evidence of similar situations.  Don’t be this lady, repeating the mantra of “End the Bush tax cuts” to every single question posed to her, because she has a feeling-based opinion, but no facts to back it up.  (Skip to 48:30 or so to see the point of this link, but watch the rest of it because it’s worth a view.)  You cannot walk up to someone and spout out your view, expecting to change peoples’ minds, with this tactic.

In an actual conversation with someone, you should be open to hearing their point of view–and actually listen to it.  Here’s the secret to why:  No one cares about you in a conversation.  They want to feel like they’ve had a chance to have their side heard.  They want to feel like they have spread their opinion to you.  They want to feel like what they have to say is worth something.  They care about themselves.  It’s the reason why you will make friends by asking them tons of questions about themselves–people love to talk about themselves, and if you give them the opportunity to, they will remember you fondly and have no idea why.

I digress.  The point is to do a little homework before you spread your personal brand of cheer.  It will go a long way to bringing people to your side by way of leadership, not dictatorship.

    • Kirk W.
    • June 3rd, 2012

    Couldn’t agree more that people need to do additional research- but I’d take it a step further. Given that political ‘debates’ in this country have largely fallen to the level of soundbite wars, what does that say of the electorate that allows the candidate with the best sound bites to win? In 2008, I had a game. In the political-science bars around my grad school, I’d find undergrads that were wearing “I volunteered for xxx” buttons–generally Obama, but there were some McCain and Paul folks in the mix, too–and ask them to tell me three things about the other candidate’s platform that they liked, and three things that they disliked, as they’re clearly politically aware creatures that do their research.

    It’s four years later, and I’ve still not found a volunteer that can go six for six. I swear, the electorate is getting either dumber or lazier. Either way, there’s only one guarantee- that politicians will continue to become what the electorate demands, and policy will continue to become less planning-based and more immediate gratification.

    Personally, I’ll continue to prepare for the inevitable election of Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho.

  1. There’s a reason I call them “Sheeple.” The fact is, it’s just easier to let every last elected official make the decisions, because when they screw it up or take advantage of it, the electorate isn’t the one who takes the fall. I agree that we get what we vote for…it’s just mind-numbingly asinine how few people actually realize that both parties are THE SAME on so many levels, just not the obvious ones. Take the power-grab of the government, for example–Democrats do it by telling Americans they should not be allowed to own guns, and Republicans do it by telling Americans they should not be allowed to marry if they are gay. Same thing, different interests. Bill Clinton WAS a fiscal conservative (relatively), and GWBush wasn’t.

    To me, this whole Red State/Blue State thing is nonsense. The localization of people who think one thing or another is exactly what makes the whole election system broken. We ought to get rid of the electoral college, and let us, THE PEOPLE, vote for the guy we want. Politicians should not have the ability to “strategize” the race–but they do, and now working for us has become a secondary, minor annoyance until the next election rolls around. The whole broken system pisses me off to no end!

    Thanks for the comment–I think I have about ten readers, and it means a lot that you took the time.

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