In his comment on my Nov 28 post, Ross made the following sensible suggestion:

I boil it down to one question: can you list three cogent pros/cons for each candidate? If the answer is “no”, then you’ve fed for too long at the trough of Hannity or Olbermann. If the answer is “yes”, then let’s talk.

After reading this, I discussed it with somebody I know who tends to be quite levelheaded, a brilliant man whose opinions I generally respect quite a lot. He seemed to agree with Ross’s suggestion, until I said “for example, it would be interesting to try to come up with three cogent reasons why John McCain might have been a good candidate to vote for.” In about ten seconds, my conversant went into what can only be described as a controlled rage, incensed at the very suggestion that there could be a “cogent argument” for McCain, and clearly quite annoyed at me for proposing such a thing.

I tried to tell him that if you’re going to sway people who are on the fence on an issue, you need to understand what parts of the opposing arguments they are buying into, at least well enough to counter those arguments. But he was no longer listening. Within about thirty seconds he had angrily fled the room.

I was surprised, to say the least. I am sticking to my guns on this one – I might strongly disagree with the opinions of one hundred million of my fellow citizens, but I’m not willing to simply – or dismissively – label them all as deluded idiots. Some of these people are thoughtful, intelligent individuals, however much I may disagree with theim. I think I need to understand how they reached their conclusions, even if only to understand my own conclusions with greater clarity and perspective.

Are there really so few of us who are willing to reach across the aisle?

5 Responses to “Surprised”

  1. Dagmar says:

    lol -Ken – I guess your are not the only one, who simply tries to understand.

    Not long ago I found myself in a situation, where I needed to say to a friend, well I can understand where your behaviour comes from, but I can’t in any way accept it. We actually had a huge conflict about morals and ethics.

    What helped me to understand some more, was an article on called: ” WHAT MAKES PEOPLE VOTE REPUBLICAN?” by Jonathan Haidt.

    What he explains there, is the theory, that morality varies and that for republican voters, values like loyalty, authority/respect and purity/sanctity are much more important than compassion and fairness. ( Please excuse me giving a very short abstract of the article here and no, nobody does say that republican voters don’t care for fairness or aren’t compassionate.)

    So please enjoy the reading and perhaps you will have some fun learning about yourself, while doing a test on:

  2. Lisa says:

    Re: – sadly, a broken website. Not possible to submit a survey as it’s not possible to login. Shame.

  3. Dagmar says:

    Dear Lisa,

    I just checked on it, for me it works fine for me. Actually I experienced problems with this side, while using Opera, but Firefox does very well.

    But anyway, you might want to try it again by going this way:


  4. troy says:

    Personally, I like the fight… The act of thoughtful argument often allows me to see things in ways I may not have before. I’ll go so far as to argue a point I don’t believe in, just to see what it digs up. Maybe, along the way, I can help someone see something differently as well. Why not? Who’s afraid of knowing more?

    The problem is, many people take it as an attack if you argue a point that is contrary to theirs. I think that is counter productive. If you don’t know why you believe in something, it’s, of course, hard to argue. But, if you do know why, then why not argue it?

    I can easily list pros/cons for either candidate. Why not discuss what you like/dislike about either one? It’s not betraying your hero by listing his/her weakness any more than it would be by listing his/her opponant’s strengths. It’s all academic at this point and, arguably, only our grandchildren will know if we made the right decision…

  5. Lisa says:

    Thanks Dagmar,

    Still not working for me. It’s not a browser thing though. When I try to log in, I get this database message: “Your table (users_new) is missing a column. Create it?”

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