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Old 07-14-2004, 07:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Constructive Engagement

It has occurred to some of the good members here who post regularly in this forum that there is a certain unproductive repetitiveness to our more doctrinaire approaches to things political. As this is a large problem in the outside world - where one can not simply walk away from political realities, perhaps we could set ourselves to the task of deconstructing/reconstructing political dialog toward more productive ends.

A personal note: I'm ratcheting down my own level of intensity here and I hope others do the same. For example, I am preparing myself for the possibility that my candidate will not become the next US President. I am working on accepting that situation, continuing on a constructive path, and being a good positive-minded citizen.

Why? Because I understand that here on this board, and in real life, we are on the same side as potential targets for the threats that exist in the world and we are also mutually organized and engaged in creating better lives for ourselves and for society as a whole. I prefer to work toward the strength that can come from a sense of unity and overriding commonality of purpose. I'm interested in forging some solidarity and minimizing some of the divisiveness between us as possible.

This thread is a place to contribute similarly-minded considerations.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-14-2004, 12:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Well...for starters how about citing sources? If we were writing a paper for a class we would be expected to list our sources and reference them appropriately.

Obviously statistics and sources can be biased, but getting into the habit of citing sources to back up our statements forces us to actually review our ideas more thoroughly.

We can also use the forum to sharpen our debate skills. Learning to structure our ideas properly would improve the quality and amount of information passing between us.

Philosophical Terms and Methods:
http://www.princeton.edu/~jimpryor/general/vocab/

Fallacious Arguments:
http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/s...arguments.html
http://www.datanation.com/fallacies/index.htm
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Old 07-14-2004, 02:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Edit:

"I don't believe making suggestions regarding how others should be doing this without being willing to come to terms with one's own sociopathologies is going to make a difference."

Well, I know what would fix it for me -- not being able to post more than once an hour in a thread. It's when I constantly recheck a thread to refute everything I disagree with that I spin out of control. So I guess that's one of my many sociopathic tendencies.
Also, knowing who pushes my buttons and sticking to my intent to ignore those people.
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Old 07-14-2004, 03:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Actually, personally, I have no interest in debating anything. I know others do. The logical fallacies have been covered several times (search) and the kind of pusillanimous attitudes that are problematic are not resolved by debate. Debate will continue and it's always being refined by its practitioners - but that isn't going to change much. We already moderate people whose debating skills tend toward the fallacious argument side of things and who veer off the deep end of dialog.

No it's going to have to go deeper than that. There will have to be a real decision reached within each contributor to make editorial and attitudinal changes. I don't believe making suggestions regarding how others should be doing this without being willing to come to terms with one's own sociopathologies is going to make a difference.

This isn't an easy thing to do. What is an easy thing to do is to continue posting here in the same ways one is habituated to. That's the problem. And it is ongoing...
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Old 07-14-2004, 05:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kadath
Edit:

Also, knowing who pushes my buttons and sticking to my intent to ignore those people.
This has been key for me....There are times (very many times recently) when I have to literally walk away from the keyboard, rather than become part of the problem.
Perhaps Ignoring (as far as posting a reply goes) the individual who is creating the problem will eventually send a message, or perhaps not. Regardless, my participation in the most intersting topics has dropped dramatically in an attempt to avoid making things worse.

Oh well, I have faith the problems will go away....in time.
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Old 07-14-2004, 06:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yes, there are examples in threads, however, where someone has not taken the bait and refused to be dragged down to a level of discourse in which there's only a downward spiral. On our better days, we acheive that. And we can take some inspiration from those who've done it here. We all see the results of what happens on our worst days.

Perhaps that's a clue. The engagement with another in opposition becomes a tete-a-tete, then a two-way match, then a sparring contest, and on and on. We see it happen from the sidelines and it is the mark of a thread degenerating into a shouting match with personal attacks being the next round of devolution. It's harder to see when it's happening to you - when you're involved in it. But others can see it and it's neither illuminating nor even entertaining after a while.

And if we take these issues seriously - it certainly doesn't get us anywhere that is practically resolvable. At best it's a stalemate.

We need to do better than that. We need to actually make some progress. The issues are too important for us to allow our emotions to drive them.

Some spirit of compromise is necessary. I'm looking for that and I'm offering that as well.
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Old 07-14-2004, 06:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by ARTelevision
Some spirit of compromise is necessary. I'm looking for that and I'm offering that as well.
That would be a refreshing change. When people put so much energy into defending their default assumptions that they can't entertain the possibility that the other guy's position may be equally valid or reasonable, the conversation ends up going in circles. When that happens, one will invariably lose his patience with the other. This is one of the main reasons I usually avoid political discussions.
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Old 07-15-2004, 08:44 AM   #8 (permalink)
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i think Offler's ideas are good ... anyone can say e.g. "Tony Blair kills babies and worships Satan"* so having at least a little evidence would help

maybe we could find some areas that we agree on, and then move on and find out where and why we disagree

i also think it's a bad sign if your sense of humour deserts you - usually time to have a break from the argument IMO

good call, i wish everyone good luck




*although this is in fact true
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Old 07-15-2004, 09:01 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Personally, I'm willing to trade off economic and human services agendas for some reciprocation on foreign policy/terrorism issues.

The plain fact is, the US is a socialist economy as it is. We're far from pure capitalism - and I comprehend the need for governmental regulation of and intervention in capitalism.

As for specific issues I'm willing to compromise on, I could accept a national health care initiative leading to universal health care. As always, it will need to be paid for by the productive members of society. It would be good if the productive members of society were acknowledged as the funders of humanistic programs.

In return, I would appreciate some acknowledgement that the US is in fact a sovereign nation and will remain so no matter what party holds the presidency or congressional power. Multilateralism is an aspect of our ability to wield power but it will never be the foundation of a national foreign policy. No nation can or will abandon ultimate self-interest in foreign policy matters in the interest of multilateralism or a trend toward global government. Realistically, John Kerry - to use a current example - would continue the vast majority of US foreign policy initiatives as ongoing operations. The debate on foreign policy is not reflective of the reality of geopolitics - it's not a big partisan matter. I would appreciate some concessions in this area toward a more realistic view of moving toward solutions regarding geopolitical strategy.

Social services appear a partisan matter, yet we are not so divided on these as some of the polarized positions we take would suggest. As I stated, we already accept a great many government-sponsored programs. If universal health care is deemed something that would be of great benefit to our population and could be reasonably funded, I would not oppose it.

This represents an effort to move toward a constructive dialog and a willingness to compromise that I will be incorporating into my conversations in this forum. I'd like to hear yours.
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Old 07-15-2004, 11:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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i think that debate can be interesting if there is adequate information involved so that arguments can get cycled back through a common reference point--things seem to get out of hand when they drift from that base and end up floating about in a space where one side or the other is no longer making arguments, but simply repeating the same points over and over.
i cant find a consistent pattern that lets me determine what differentiates these two modes, however.

however, after i few rounds of this, i have started to figure signs that indicate when this is coming and have started just checking out.

if i could alter the general framework in here, i would try to figure out some prompt that would enable people to relativize their frame of reference, subject it to argument, see through argument if the frame holds up. but of course i have no idea how you could do it.
in a classroom situation, you can push toward it because you have common text reference points, and snippiness can get referred back to them. it is also a coercive environment.
on a board.....no idea.....

what i have figured out is that this willingness of relavitize ones own position assumes particular dispositions up front---that these are particular (i assumed them everywhere, just goes to show how naieve a certain professional trajectory can make you)---so i cant assume others share it---and in citizen mode i have to check myself from assuming that if people do not share that starting point that there is something wrong with them.

on the other hand, i confess (mea culpa) a real impatience with the conservative position that conflates matters of politics with the structure of faith.

and frankly i think that almost nothing about conservative ideology provides an adequate description of the world. and i find that to be a prompt that runs me into a more confrontational mode. [[[[[btw this is not a polemical statement. it is a statement about my personal point of departure]]]]

this is the bind that i fight with every time i turn up here in the politics space.

first, there are real constructive debates in here, which is good.
second, i am surprised often, which i enjoy.
so 1 plus two means i still play here.

an aside: i do not mind if things get heated so long as they are moving logically or argumentatively.

and there we are.
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Old 07-15-2004, 11:30 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Old 07-15-2004, 11:37 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by wonderwench
conservatives are held to a higher standard of behavior than their liberal counterparts
I find it fascinating that we hear this statement and its exact opposite frequently on the Political boards, depending on the poster's political persuasion. I can only conclude that it has nothing to do with political slant, but rather a style of "persuasion" that is aggressive at best, and enflaming at worst.
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Old 07-15-2004, 11:40 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Old 07-15-2004, 11:47 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Anyone who has been following the trend in threads knows exactly who the people are who have been jacking up the vitriol around here. It is not a group on one side of the spectrum. It is being done by certain individuals with agendas quite different from each other. Those individuals are being addressed in specific ways related to the manner in which they have continued to fan the flames of emotionalism here. That's how it is.
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Old 07-15-2004, 11:51 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Now back to the point of this thread.

How are you willing to break down the barriers of doctrinaire polarization that exist between us?

The forum will continue as a moderated place of discussion and debate. This particuar thread concerns ways in which those of us who have an interest in a spirit of compromise, accommodation, and constructive engagement can discuss our options.
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Old 07-15-2004, 12:21 PM   #16 (permalink)
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ok, i'm game and i'm willing to compromise.

i'm willing to compromise on letting big business pay less taxes in exchange for rules that limit their reach

i'm willing to compromise on school vouchers -- privatizing schools seems like a bad idea to me but i'm perfectly willing to give it a shot.

i'm willing to compromise on the legislation that makes murdering a pregnant woman a double homicide. while i do worry that such legislation will be used later to justify making abortion completely illegal I have no problem with the legislation itself -- a wanted baby is a huge loss to a family and criminals should be punished for their actions.
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Old 07-15-2004, 12:45 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I am willing to go out on a limb, in an attempt to help this forum become a place of growth in political belief, rather than a slug fest.

Please correct me if my interpretation is flawed , or biased.
The majority of thread degradation has taken place in those threads replyed to, or started by few individuasl. It would be a pity to lose our conservative wing simply because we are not mature enough to accept the opinions generated by them.
There is however, a problem with "the way" this individual posts, and this indeed needs to be talked about. Perhaps if we all agree to a bit of constructive criticism, and agree to actually LISTEN to it, we will all benefit.
I know I myself have become quite charged at the repitition without substance, and have replied with an immature statement that contributed nothing but negativity.

I took a week off, and this helped.

If we lose the Bush supporters, we have no debate (except with Art) and will become counter-productive. The Idea of this forum, at least to myself, is to hear opposing opinions and hopefully learn the reasoning behind them. I have evolved my views in this forum on several occasions due to this. The problem occurs when the opinion is given, but the "reasoning" behind it is withheld, and this is what some have been guilty of.

We must all realize the left and right are as polarized as they have ever been in recent memory, and this will create difficulties in discourse. As a community, we can overcome this, as we must, as this country must.

Then again, I could be totally off base, but I will never know if there is no communication. Perhaps we can begin with you all telling me what I am doing, that creates animosity, or confusion, that I may work towards better debates.
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Old 07-15-2004, 01:03 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Let's keep the focus off of any particular individual. The situation has always been a steady stream of people who bring tactics along from either their experience of other boards or from elsewhere. The fact it exists is being addressed.

Your personal experiences are valuable here, tecoyah, and I think you are on to something and helping move things along in a constructive direction. Time will tell if folks will see some benefit in this thread and its potential to open up some actual dialog where there has been mostly filibustering.

brianna, thanks much for your offers of compromise. That's great and much appreciated!
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Old 07-15-2004, 01:04 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Art,

This is a great idea and I believe this will be a major sucess in understanding each other.

I don't think the sides are that far away from each other. As stated numerous times, I believe a majority of Americans to be more centrist. Perhaps, this will further demonstrate it.

I do believe that everyone has one or two issues that they are passionate about and therefore identify more with one side.
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Old 07-15-2004, 04:33 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Thanks pan6467. To my mind, this is the thread that takes some courage to post to.
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Old 07-16-2004, 06:42 AM   #21 (permalink)
 
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reread this thread.

i would avow a willingness to compromise, i suppose, at least discursively in this space.

but i wonder if simply saying this is a step toward eliminating the possibility of debate here.

i keep wondering if there is another way to do this.

debate could be encouraged but with a kind of remove, so that people understand that even confrontational positions are elaborated against arguments made and not against the person making the argument.

it would be a shame if a consequence of worrying about the cranking up of tempers would lead to be undermining of the possibility of heated discussion.
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Old 07-16-2004, 07:13 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Dialog on parallel tracks will always continue. This is really just another thread. My personal follow-through is in place. I'm not going to continue to debate a universal health care initiative because I have offered that issue as a compromise in the interest of moving forward and also as evidence that my mind is not fixated on past positions. Concomitantly, I see a willingness in myself to be more accepting of human-services initiatives, in general, and not to be simply doctrinaire in rejecting them out of hand because they conflict with some simplistic unyielding assumption.

Thinking is not how the world gets changed. Debating things is also not how the world gets changed. People reaching across the limitations of their own barriers, re-thinking their positions in the light of larger contexts, and creating realistic options is how the world gets changed. In other words, our own self-imposed limitations are what limits our ability to see and come to terms with the views of others.

Along with the above, a benefit revealed by a more respectful tone in our interactions is inevitable for those who are willing to rethink their positions and give more credit to those who oppose them. This in no way obviates "heated discussion."

There's a difference between cooking something and burning it.
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Old 07-16-2004, 07:32 AM   #23 (permalink)
 
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art---

somehow that last line convinced me.....
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Old 07-16-2004, 08:42 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Old 07-16-2004, 09:57 AM   #25 (permalink)
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wonderwench: if you do not intend to compromise at all then you should not be posting in this thread, you're off topic. also, if you're not willing to compromise or consider the opinions of others then you should perhaps not engage in debate.
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Old 07-16-2004, 10:01 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by wonderwench


First, it is important to define the nature of the two sides. The two opposing viewpoints are producers vs. the needy. The argument for things such as universal healthcare, welfare, social security etc. is that the recipients have needs. It is quite clear what the needy receive from the compromise; but in what way do the producers benefit?

Speaking as a "producer" - one who for most of his working career has been in a higher than average tax bracket (though by no means rich) - I have no issues paying my fair share so that society as a whole is bettered.

In part, this is due to the fact that - as a human being with some degree of compassion for those who have less than most - I feel "good" about helping my fellow man, and feel a tax system that directs funds to social programs is the best, most efficeitn way to do this.

I also recognize that if the lower income earners of society were left with nothing, no net, crime would be likely to rise, and people would get sicker and die younger - all of which damages society as a whole.
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Old 07-16-2004, 02:44 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by wonderwench
This is why compromise is futile.
While somewhat off topic, you are elaborating on a comment you made to one of Art's statements. I don't think you get the point of this thread.

Art is using issues as examples of where various discussions could lead, how they could lead there, and potential pitfalls along the way. I see his effort as helping to identify the process by which a discussion devolves into what we have all seen. In discussing the process, we might be able to better recognize behavior or tendancies that help kill threads.

The majority of your focus has been on the specific issues used purely as examples, not the process itself.
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Old 07-16-2004, 05:43 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Old 07-17-2004, 09:46 AM   #29 (permalink)
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"Politics is the art of compromise."
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Old 07-17-2004, 11:34 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Sparhawk - you are so right in quoting that.

It's a fairly simple idea, isn't it? It is how things get accomplished in the real world by people of good will. It is the essence of cooperation, as well.

Thank you, man.
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Old 07-17-2004, 12:36 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Old 07-17-2004, 12:44 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Accusing one's opponents of acting in bad faith is not within the bounds of mutual respect. It is a good example of a tactic that serves nothing but to enflame, emotionalize, and destroy dialog, honest debate, and cooperation. In brief the previous post is symptomatic of the problem that this thread is dedicated to resolving.

Twice in this thread, the previous poster has stated that she will not continue posting here. As the record of her posts in this thread demonstrates, there is an apparent inability to comprehend any other view but her own.

This thread will now continue without her participation as she has made it clear she is not interested in the direction taken by the rest of its contributors and, as such, her posts are simply flamebait.
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Old 07-17-2004, 04:03 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by roachboy
i would avow a willingness to compromise, i suppose, at least discursively in this space.

but i wonder if simply saying this is a step toward eliminating the possibility of debate here.

debate could be encouraged but with a kind of remove, so that people understand that even confrontational positions are elaborated against arguments made and not against the person making the argument.

it would be a shame if a consequence of worrying about the cranking up of tempers would lead to be undermining of the possibility of heated discussion.
This will be the first time in this forum that I make this statement:

I agree with roachboy.

Whew, that was hard - just kidding roach

Anyway, compromise is not always an option. For example, roachboy and I will never ever see eye-to-eye, it just not possible considering our two belief systems.

I appreciate his posts, though, because they make me think and they are very intelligent (yes roachboy, a diehard right-winger complimented you). If I were to worry about compromise in regards to roachboy or many other people here, I would never post.

I think the idea is good Art, but I think it would dilute the debate here.

As long as we can keep control over hateful comments and personal attacks, we should be fine.

My beliefs are definitely in the minority here and I accept that I will probably not change any minds.

That being said, I find the debate itself, the most interesting.
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Old 07-17-2004, 04:20 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Though compromise is hard given the difference in viewpoints and their large wide spectrum, compromise is a must in debate. There is honestly no such thing as debate if there is no willingness to talk rationally about the other side. There isn't much to debate if one's mind is already made up.

And I feel we should keep the spirit of compromise. I look at the Constitution of the United States as the greatest example of how this country was founded - it is indeed called the Great Compromise because the writers and framers saw beyond their own agendas to build the country we live in.
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Old 07-17-2004, 04:53 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sparhawk
"Politics is the art of compromise."
Many kudos to you for this quote.

If our elected officials are supposed to represent us and our wishes, while working to promote prosperity not only here in my home country, but also in the world, then it stands to reason that the best ideas from the bnest minds will yield the best results.

To say that one party could have all the answers is foolish- there is compromise in everything in this world. All else is worthless, stagnant rigidity. Where there is no compromise, there is no growth.
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Old 07-17-2004, 04:58 PM   #36 (permalink)
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It's rather weird being an European among all this US power struggle. It might be just me or just the splashing wave of anti-americanism, but somehow it's fairly difficult to imagine many people here at Europe (I can of course always just talk about my home country, but still...) supporting the agendas of the so-called "republican side". Maybe it doesn't matter much to those people.

It is possible that I have misunderstood the point of this thread (as I have been drinking somewhat strong Ukranian vodka) but somehow - and I'm quite sure that many Europeans would agree - many these threads seem to be almost absurd and almost even entrenched my feelings of USA full of crack-pot rightwingers (some might call this "anti-americanism" or even "frog eating surrender-monkeynism", and I'm not even French).

I once again apologize if this was a silly post on a wrong thread.
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Old 07-17-2004, 06:01 PM   #37 (permalink)
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I think a lot of it has to do with the nature of discussion; people really don't spend most of their time talking about how they agree with one another. Take the AWB thread we had a few days ago; once people started agreeing with each other the thread died out in a heartbeat.

I personally believe that we should make a compromise in attitude, and retain our conviction in content. Threads are extremely delicate things, and a poorly worded phrase or direct insult can quickly lead to a conflaguration of condemnation.

I think we're all here to gain an understanding of the issues at hand, discover alternative perspectives, and learn from the experience. With that attitude in mind we should all be able to engage in mature and enlightened discussion.

What does that attitude represent? Well for me it means focusing on the content, and not the poster. It means presenting my side with unbiased language, and utilizing facts and sources instead of rhetoric.

The difference between an argument and a debate is that you can win a debate, but only lose an argument.
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Old 07-17-2004, 06:18 PM   #38 (permalink)
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Thanks for the constructive comments. For me it means more. This is about actually changing myself. I will no longer even attempt to adhere to a party line in my positions. I was never doctrinaire about conservatism but it is the place on the spectrum that represents many of my attitudes. I retain the positions I've stated in this thread. I'm letting go of the human-services positions because a simple analysis of the actual situation in the US is that we have a great many human-services initiatives and legislation already in place and I am interested in accepting and listening to the sound of what is real rather than shouting into an echo chamber.

Everyone knows I have never had truck with those whose political positions are motivated by religious beliefs. I respect their views but they are simply not my own.

I am not so easily pigeonholed and in the future I will be even less so. And the reason I feel compelled to move forward on this path is because I respect my fellow citizens too much to simply dismiss so many of their honestly held views out of hand.

I'm dedicated to journeying through the actual future and not simply being a signpost in a single direction that may or may not point the way.
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Old 07-17-2004, 06:29 PM   #39 (permalink)
 
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a sweeping bow to kma-628, during which the feather atop my altogether too large and unreasonably fabulous hat runs across the floor.

and now i turn to continue my evening stroll down the hall of mirrors.
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Old 07-17-2004, 07:38 PM   #40 (permalink)
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I've seen some real graciousness in the thread, but despite the talk, I don't know what we've found out that will actually improve the state of the Tilted Politics forum, which is in some ways the cutting edge of TFP. It is a place where people come and discuss differences and do the hard work of finding ways to reconcile or coexist with those differences. I tell you this because we face a difficult path ahead, and it is important to recognize that Tilted Politics is a place of value for the larger community. It is worth the effort to hike this trail. This forum could be the one (in my opinion along with Coming Together) that does the progressive evolution that is TFP's mission. However, there is work to be done. I'm going to state the difficulties that I see. Not the problems, but some of the obstacles we face in attaining the level of discourse that is worthy of TFP.

You know (and sometimes you see this in real life), sometimes when people are talking about something and they disagree they have a hard time moving beyond the disagreement. They get stuck in a "reply" mode where they have to solve each minor point of disagreement instead of letting the small things go in the interest of moving on. Now, as we get older and hopefully more mature, we realize that the existence of a difference of opinion does not require a resolution of that difference. "Agreeing to disagree," or whatever you want to call it is a required skill for interacting in a world where not everyone thinks like you do.

Unfortunately, the linear nature of our threads here at TFP (and I am speaking of the format of the board) discourages this de-escalation because people really do feel like the path from a to z involves resolving every letter in between. The quote feature encourages these point-by-point refutations that get us bogged down. And worse yet, when someone fails to respond to one of our pithy counterpoints, we remind them to go back and answer it. We rarely get past letter c on our path to z.

A further complication is that there really are people who derive all of their political beliefs, even the small nitty-gritty things, from principle. Principle doesn't allow for compromise. This makes it particularly difficult for these individuals to let a minor obstacle in the path be disregarded. The real rub here is that we need those people in order to have discussions - often they provide the most compelling and passionate counterpoints. Those hard line liberals or conservatives in some ways function like a conscience. So, we need these individuals, but at the same time, we are set up to trigger a non-productive behavior.

This "stacking of the deck" against a progressive mode of conversation (in which progress is made even if resolution is sacrificed) means that we have to be even more vigilant than in real life when choosing our replies. The difficulties I have pointed out lie in the mechanism of TFP - the hardware of the forum, if you will. The solutions can only lie in the software - the operating system we use to define our interactions, or the culture of the board members.

Let's face it, many threads are started with a purpose, and often we ignore it. Gun control is a prime example. If someone starts a thread about a particular legislative item and wants to discuss the pros and cons of it, this is not an invitation to take the issue to its roots and argue for complete abolition/freedom of firearms. Unfortunately this is what happens. I think it might be helpful if thread starters took some responsibility for the direction of what they begin.

It is all well and good to say that politics is the art of compromise, but that is only true to a certain extent. Politics is the art of managing to keep a living, writhing monster in some sort of equilibrium - and compromise is one of the tools that politicians use. We are not practicing politics, nor are we politicians. We are discussing politics, and for that there will be no equilibrium. Every thread does not have to be ended with a compromise or agreement, or even a feeling of resolution. We don't have to end a thread by having action items.

An attitude that recognizes the difference between discussion and debate might go a long way here. If we approached a thread trying to explain our points of view rather than convince others to follow us fewer tempers might flare. I think that treating our differing ideologies as a source of diversity to be celebrated rather than eradicated would serve as a mechanism for evolution much more than treating each other like potential converts. We need to be less proactive in our statement of our own views and more proactive in our seeking to understand the views of others. Let's agree to stipulate that everyone here is a mature, thinking adult. Work to understand how someone who is a mature, thinking adult could have that view that you can't fathom - don't seek to eliminate it without understanding it.

I don't have all the answers, so if someone else can point out our obstacles or our solutions, please go right ahead. In order to prosper as a group, we need to function and work as a group to find ways to grow.
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