Let’s Discuss Politics!! But first…

I know this is going to be hard to believe, but I actually had a really interesting and enjoyable conversation about politics last night.  What makes this even more shocking is that the conversation was with someone who has drastically different views than I do.  We actually disagreed, but managed to do so in a rational and respectful manner.

I bet you didn’t even know that was possible…  Typically the second politics comes up in a conversation everyone involved gets defensive and the discussion quickly deteriorates into an argument.  An argument in which both sides refuse to even listen to or consider the perspective of the other, choosing instead to talk louder and louder to try and drown out the other person’s voice.

I should know.  I’ve tried to have many such conversations, and I have very rarely succeeded.  There are a few things that bother me about this, not the least of which is the fact that I really enjoy a good, intelligent political discussion and I find that I can so rarely engage in one.  Most political conversation is completely unproductive and not worth the time.

Which brings me to the most important reason this situation bothers me: the discussion is typically completely unproductive.  See, in my opinion, conversation should have benefits other than just the benefits that come from social contacts in general.  Political conversation… honest, open, political conversation… conversation where both sides are actually willing to consider the possibility that they may be wrong, has the potential to make a real difference in our society and for our country.  Generally in political discussions I find myself up against an opponent who spews biased nonsense with no ability to back up their opinions with facts or even with thoughts of their own.

We are each individually responsible for helping to make this country great by being involved in our political system, and everything we do to be involved… protesting, writing our representatives, even just showing up at the polls and voting intelligently… it all makes a difference.  We all must work together to make a difference and to find a compromise that will work for the country as a whole.  If only we could make that happen.

So, what is it that is getting in the way of productive political discussion among individual citizens?

I’m sure there are a number of factors, but I think I have pinpointed a big one. While resolving it probably won’t entirely solve the problem, it could be a good starting point if we could get enough people to understand it and put it into action.

We all have to stop trusting the media and learn to do our own research.  I don’t care what your favorite news source is, it’s not entirely neutral.  Everyone has a bias, the only difference is the extent of that bias or how extreme the views of that source are.  The bias, as much as we’d like for it not to be, is ALWAYS THERE.  And I am not saying you have to completely shun your favorite news source, they all provide some useful information and perspectives in this seemingly never ending search for the facts.

I’m saying that you should be reading ALL of the sources.  Not all at once, of course.  Not even all of the content on all of the sources.  Who has the time for that? Personally I read CNN, BBC, Fox News, Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post, and my local news website.  And I watch… Jon Stewart!  But there’s also ABC, MSNBC, and any number of other websites you can check out.

No matter what sources you choose, I truly believe that when coming to conclusions regarding political issues, you should be looking to see what the various sources say, and you should be comparing what those sources say to the actual facts of the issue at hand.

I know… I know… sounds crazy.

But since, as I noted above, so many people just don’t know where to start.  I have put together what I hope is a simple to follow, common sense guide to researching political issues and articles.  Read it.  Comment on it.  Help me improve it or expand it.

Looking forward to discussing politics with you!!

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Categories: Government & Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss Politics!! But first…

  1. libertyandbagels

    I’d encourage you to read more sources outside the US, maybe Al-Jazeera. Nowadays, to admit that certain policies or platforms were or are wrong is to give the other side a victory. Imagine that tomorrow, perfect undeniable scientific evidence proof that Climate Change is happening, and is caused by man. What would Ann Coulter be saying? She’d probably stick to her guns. And if there was undeniable proof that Climate Change isn’t true, Al Gore probably wouldn’t give back his Nobel Peace Prize.

    • You’re absolutely right. I do need more sources outside the U.S. I added BBC because I know I need an outside perspective, but haven’t expanded beyond that yet. I’ll bookmark some more sites. And, yes, it does seem to be a competition to show who’s right. Unfortunately, the answer is likely somewhere in the middle, and since nobody is listening to anyone else anymore there’s little to no chance they’ll meet up in the middle anywhere! In the meantime we all suffer for it. That’s exactly why we all need to be more informed on these issues and stop trusting others to feed it to us.

  2. This can be said of just about any argument. Like we’ve talked about before, it’s all about perspective!!! It is absolutely okay to disagree, but we have to be willing to listen. If no one is willing to listen and truly see where the other side is coming from, the only thing accomplished is the opposite sides digging their heels in deeper.

    I think reading multiple, even outside, sources is a great idea because it gives you different perspectives. This reminds of the cliche, “There are 3 sides to ever story. Yours, mine, and the truth,” with the truth lying somewhere in the middle. I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried very hard to keep up with different outlets, but now that election season is really ramping up, I’m going to do what I can.

  3. There are people on both sides of the political fence–left or right–that use the following sites as sources for their own political understanding and to help them formulate their own agenda. To those folks, these biased sites provide value. But to some, nonpartisan sites are important and they want to hear the unbiased truth. Either way, politics is an extremely contentious business. And whether you’re looking for liberal-leaning posts on the greatness of President Obama or conservative discussions on the problems with the president’s stimulus package, you can find it all in the following sites.

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