Rhetoric, Reason and Persuasion

Our Useless Political Discourse

The greatest American Heroes are those willing to learn about sharing opinion … and then share it. To my chagrin, I have not tried to be a great American Hero, rather a Johnny One-Note who encourages political polarization as opposed to genuine civic and civil discourse.

The town-hall citizens that I believe were the civic hope of our Founding Fathers have a need to understand and preach political wisdom with among other things, three tools of communication:

Rhetoric – The art of speaking or writing effectively

Reason – The power of the mind to think, understand and form judgments by a process of logic

Persuasion – The action or fact of persuading someone to accept an idea, concept or fact.

A Con is not one of those tools.

A Con –  The act of cheating or tricking someone by gaining their trust and persuading them to believe something that is not true. A con is also the act of saying to someone exactly what that person is expecting to hear in order to create the illusion that speaker and listener are “on the same page.”

The goal of political debate is not necessarily to be “right.” Nor is it an advancement of a particular view of “the truth.” Rather, political debate has as its goal that of causing someone to act in a way consistent with the speaker’s objectives. Fundamentally as campaigns roll-out, political debate’s most important pursuit is the winning of votes.

Many political persuaders decided long ago that truth and reason are irrelevant to political debate. With competing ideas in a supposed democracy in which free speech is a function of persuasion, those most easily persuaded tend to be mostly one-dimensional, simple-minded or in fact unscrupulous regarding ends and means of persuasion.

If you would persuade, maintain constantly for yourself a reverence for reason and genuine truth. However, understand that you yourself may not know what is true, whether or not your reasoning can be shown as flawed and your own priorities not necessarily of the highest importance in the over-arching political and civic reality.

Unless you understand that your assumptive knowledge and wisdom are not drinkable bathwater, you have little to contribute toward genuine consensus.

Reason may not be the most effect tool of perceiving the correctness of your own perceptual truth and is perhaps of greater value in discovering for yourself what is not true.

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