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Principle vs. Politics -and- Reality vs. Rhetoric

By maxwell edison ·
Definitions (From American Heritage):

Rhetoric: Language that is elaborate, pretentious, insincere, or intellectually vacuous: His offers of compromise were mere rhetoric.

Reality: That which exists objectively and in fact: Your observations do not seem to be about reality.

Principle: The collectivity of moral or ethical standards or judgments: His is a decision based on principle rather than expediency.

Politics: Intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power: Partisan politics is often an obstruction to good government. Office politics are often debilitating and counterproductive.

All too many people either don't know the difference and/or substitute (knowingly or otherwise) one for the other.

An argument based on principle is usually (but not always) followed by an application of, or as applicable to, reality. While an argument based on politics is usually (but not always) followed by rhetoric.

Personally, I always try to apply both principle and reality to my arguments. I try to avoid the usual political rhetoric.

Examples of political rhetoric:

The rich are getting richer on the backs of the poor.

Bush is in the pockets of "big oil".

Examples of principled reality:

The individual owes it to both himself and society to accept full and total self responsibility.

Oil is a vital factor in both the American economy and the world economy.

Disclaimer: Yes, I know. I chose examples based on my "principled reality", or my "bias". Feel free to share your own.

Another disclaimer: "Bias", when based on "principled reality", is not a bad thing, especially if clearly admitted and supported. For example, my "bias" is towards less government involvement in social issues, not more. (Will anyone admit to having a "bias" espousing MORE government involvement in social issues? If so, admit it, rest on YOUR principles, and have a go at it WITHOUT relying on rhetoric.)

In my experience, the political left relies almost entirely on political rhetoric. (And the only ones who will probably disagree are the left-leaning among us.) However, how can the argument "yes, it is right and proper to take the property from the person who earned it, so government can give it to a person who did not earn it", stand on its own merit? Personally, I've never even seen anyone try (except, of course, in cases of Mao's little red book or Marx's The Communist Manifesto) without relying, either in whole or in part, on political rhetoric.

And in regards to my previous example, The individual owes it to both himself and society to accept full and total self responsibility, how can the opposite possibly be argued with any semblance of merit without relying on the usual, tired and old political rhetoric?

Political rhetoric is intended to sway and convince by appealing to the emotional heartstrings of the listener. Political rhetoric is usually intended, to some degree, to deceive, because, in my opinion, the argument being presented can't stand on its own merits.

The man-caused global warming argument is dripping with political rhetoric, since it is neither conclusively proven nor universally accepted.

The war on terrorism (or, as I like to call it, the war with Islamo-Fascism) is dripping with political rhetoric.

The "lied about weapons of mass destruction" argument is dripping with political rhetoric.

(The same disclaimers apply.)

Principled reality is intended to sway and convince by using facts based on reason and logic. Principled reality can usually stand on its own merits; and whether you agree or disagree with the premise of the argument, the worst case is that two people might simply agree to disagree. On the other hand, it's much more difficult, and in some cases impossible, to simply agree to disagree when presented with an argument based on political rhetoric, because it's usually based on a flawed premise, and the opposing argument gets side-tracked dispelling and/or pointing out that flawed premise.

Many people around here will take exception to this comment, but there way too few who can present a clear and concise argument based on principled reality, and way too many who rely, either entirely or in part, on political rhetoric.

People should present an argument like they might write a computer program. When you see two people going at it, going "round and round", never resolving an issue and/or not even agreeing to disagree, it's tantamount to an endless loop because of a flawed or poorly written computer program. One side -- or both -- relies more on rhetoric and less on principle. And that, my friends, will only result in the debating equivalent of the dreaded blue screen of death. It just won't compute.

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THE BIG LIE about the big lie

by maxwell edison In reply to Rhetoric and Fear-Mongeri ...

You said, "Lied about WMDs" is political rhetoric but that doesn?t make it untrue. I prefer to say "the Bush administration deliberately misled people about the presence of WMD's in Iraq" Which is actually what happened."

If the definition of telling a lie could be to delibertly mislead, then you're just saying the same thing but in other words. How stupid is that?

President Bush did not delibertly mislead anybody. Feel free to disagree, but that's the absolute best you can do.

First of all, you don't know for sure if he misled anybody. Second of all, your "deliberately" is pure speculation. BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT A MIND READER!

You are telling THE BIG LIE about the big lie.

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Neil has volumes on this deliberatly misleading statement

by mjwx In reply to THE BIG LIE about the big ...

And no-one has evidence either to the contrary or of Actual WMD's in Iraq. Notice the GWB admin is suspiciously quiet about the WMD's in Iraq now. Max do you want to know the irony.

If you didn?t invade Iraq you would have unilateral support for any action in Iran. **** you would have an entire Iraqi army ready to fight for you. You (US) didn?t choose your enemy very well, so its a good thing you have a better taste in allies.

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An example of reality

by jardinier In reply to Principle vs. Politics -a ...

To be on the far right side of politics is a greater degree of bias than to be moderately on the left side.

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Only if

by TonytheTiger In reply to An example of reality

you need the government to be your mommy.

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It depends. . . . .

by maxwell edison In reply to An example of reality

...on your point of reference and/or subject matter. To merely identify "left and right", as though there's some predetermined middle and all encompassing issue, is not necessarily indicative of anything. A proponent of the extreme form of collectivism, for example, would even consider our most leftist Democrats right-wing. And the most libertarian among us would consider President Bush left-wing.

If left and right were merely defined as more government or less government respectively, as it pertains to involvement in people's lives, then I proudly and freely call myself right-wing -- even extreme. However, if that's the case, then those who hold the exact opposing view must be, by definition, extreme left-wing. If you try to define some sort of middle ground and call it "moderate", you'll probably always be aiming at a moving target, and one that moves farther and farther away, probably to the left, as time goes by. Actually, I should say that it moves definitely to the left, unless you can name one government social program that has been either eliminated or significantly scaled back. They always grow. They never shrink. We are a much more leftist nation than we were 50 years ago. And nothing has ever been phased out or reduced in scope. I shudder to think what we'll be like in 50 more years. (Disclaimer: Of course, I'm speaking of the USA. I'm not as familiar with Australian government involvement into private lives.)

I find it interesting that many people have called me "far right", even though they don't take all things into consideration, nor do they really know that much about me. It's more indicative of their mind-set and their desire to pigeon-hole people, I believe, than it is descriptive of me and my views. I'm against the death penalty and in favor of legalizing recreational drugs, for example, neither of which is hardly a "far right" position. And although I'm generally not in favor of government social programs, I would compromise and concede a modest amount earmarked for the truly needy, again, hardly an extreme view (see note below). But no, I don't espouse government control over a national retirement system, or health care system, and so on. If you ask me, those things are EXTREME leftist ideas, first suggested in the United States by the Socialist and Communist political parties. I might be called extreme right-wing when calling for the systematic phasing out, and eventual elimination of our national retirement system (known as Social Security); but that was a very extreme leftist, and even socialist, idea as recently as 1932. Moreover, in that regard, how can you call a person who espouses self-responsibility for one's own life extreme anything?

I think the only issue on which I'm probably farther to the right than most is when it comes to America's sovereignty and maintaining a national defense that's second to none. I abhor the collectivist notions of the United Nations (something it was not designed to be, by the way), and I don't trust other governments to set aside their self interest in the name of any collectivist interest. All nations will act in a manner that's consistent with their own self interest, with no exceptions. The only difference, at least as it seems to me, is that people and leaders from those nations won't admit it. They try to advance their self-interest under the guise of some silly world-collective view. Get me as far away from that as possible. World trade, yes. World collectivism, no way. And regardless of someone's Polly-Anna wish for a world that gets along in total peace and harmony, that's about as far removed from reality as one can possibly be. When there are people in the world who want to destroy the nation in which I live, I want the biggest dog on the block, bar none.

Nonetheless, I've rambled on a bit, but I'm sure you don't mind. Getting to your comment, "To be on the far right side of politics is a greater degree of bias than to be moderately on the left side", let me try to read into that. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I assume you might consider me to be on the far right side of politics, and yourself to be moderately on the left. If you consider me far-right, how did you come to that conclusion? And I'm sure you'll consider my "ramblings" into your comments. Moreover, I think the word "bias" can be used in many ways. For example, the definition of a "biased" news story (something we never discuss?) speaks for itself. However, you and I both have biased views, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. My bias falls in favor of less government, while another's might fall in favor of more government. What perturbs me is when people try to conceal their bias instead of admit it.

(Note on "...a modest amount earmarked for the truly needy...: This particular view holds true using today as a reference point. If we could, somehow, wipe the slate clean and start over again from, say, 1900, I would redefine my position.)

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Max, I wasn't referring to you personally

by jardinier In reply to It depends. . . . .

or any other particular person. So how did you read into my simple statement that I was comparing your political stance with my own?

Perhaps "bias" was not the best word to use as it can imply a deliberate distortion, although of course you did not read it that way. You read it, as it was intended, as a pendulum swing between extreme left (socialist/communist) and extreme right (fascist). And of course both these extremes meet eventually as they both lead to a totalitarian government.

It is quite pointless comparing American politics with Australian, as our "left-wing" party, The Australian Labor Party, dropped the word "socialist" from its platform some time ago, and is now much closer to the hypothetical "centre."

John Howard, on the other hand, is EXTREMELY right wing and has subtly changed the administrative branch of politics -- the Public Service -- to suit his own needs.

Believe me -- nothing would make John Howard happier than to see all social programs abolished, but he is a shrewd politician and has left the welfare programs largely intact, because he knows that he has to please (appease) voters from across the spectrum.

Like most things in life, politics has its ebbs and flows. Currently Howard is enjoying a long term in office (this year will mark his 10th) -- largely because the Parliamentary Labor Party is ****-bent on destroying itself through factional infighting.

But two decades ago the conservative party -- named by its founder, Sir Robert Menzies, the "Liberal" Party -- was in exactly the same position.

I have a rather simple but I believe valid theory as to why there will always be a left and right wing in politics.

In order for the individual to survive/thrive (right wing) the group must also survive/thrive (left wing.).

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Or to put the sub-thread-start in an other light

by rob mekel In reply to Max, I wasn't referring t ...

To be on the far left side of politics is a greater degree of bias than to be moderately on the right side.

But then the bias could be in being moderately. :0


edited for format

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