Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Call for Confrontation

I'm quite tired with politics. That's not a grand revelation, nor is it a terribly controversial declaration. But therein lies the rub: I'd say that most people hate politics, or at least have a distrust of the political process and the motive
s of politicians. The empty phrases and promises, the backdoor dealings and backstabbing, the egos, and the lies and the misrepresentations. It's an old story.
I'd like to see more confrontation in politics. More of "my word against yours-- and here's why". More "let's look at the facts"-- and a citation of the sources of those facts. More of a presentation of ideas in a clear, transparent, and precise manner-- rather than a catchy sound bite. Call it an "academia" approach to politics. In fact, academia should be used as the model for the presentation of political ideas and arguments. Academics must cite their sources openly, present their arguments clearly, and try to persuade the aca
demic community of their argument's merit, all while disproving previous arguments and contrary contemporary arguments. Officially, attacks on a contemporary collegue's character is unheard of in academia.

Imagine, Candidate A gets up with a pie chart. "Here's how we currently spend money at the United States government:"

"I don't like this. I propose cutting the Department of Defense by 10% and welfare by 5%, and adding that money to Medicare so that we can expand the number of people with health insurance. Here's why I think that's a great idea..."

Here's a good example of what I'm talking about: Here is a clip of Senator Al Franken destroying a Focus on the Family witness's testimony during a congressional hearing. He does this by actually reading a study cited by the witness, and exposes that the witness completely misrepresented the study's findings, probably in the hope that nobody would actually call him out on it. Unfortunately for the witness, Franken does.

That's what it should be like. Less posturing, less anti-intellectualism, less rewards for bullshiting, less laziness, less image over content, less slick guy or girl with nice hair standing at a podium trying to tease out that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you hear a vague but still kinda feels good and American kind of quote. More intelligent, fact-driven, research-oriented, transparent, and willing to confront bullshit kind of politicians.

A boy can dream.

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