Last night, I got into a political discussion on Facebook. I know, shocking! It made me realize two things:
1.) I’ve never lost an argument on the Internet! Not one! Isn’t that amazing?! I mean, I’ve also never won one…
2.) We bicker on social media, chirp at our political opponents in real life, and get angry. All without ever talking about what we need to actually be talking about.
So here’s some things we should be talking about:
The top 3 political conversations we’re not having because of the ones we are
Issue number 1: Climate Change
- Conversation we’re having: Whether or not it exists
- Conversation we need to have: What to do about it.
- What I mean:
When 97% of scientists agree on something, we need to stop treating it like it’s a debate. Listening to conservatives say “we don’t know for sure global warming is happening or that we cause it” is literally the same thing as listening to someone tell you that they don’t know “for sure” the world is round because they personally have never been in outer space. But there is a vital, real dialogue we need to have: What to do about it.
I accept and respect the core differences between liberals and conservatives on things. That is to say, the non-extreme positions. Things like state versus federal control and business planning seem like areas where we can disagree and still be productive through compromise. So let’s talk about the level of government oversight, specific plans (like cap and trade), and incremental phasing in so that business isn’t hurt. You know, really boring shit that isn’t as fun to talk about but actually gets us somewhere. These are the things that liberals and conservatives can disagree on in a meaningful way.
Issue number 2: Gun Control
- Conversation we’re having: Encroaching on the 2nd amendment versus the increase of mass shootings
- Conversation we need to have: Where the compromise is between gun control advocates and gun enthusiasts
- What I mean:
Last night’s social media throwdown was about guns. Again. Nothing spirals out of control like a gun control conversation. I shit you not, we went from background checks and gunshow loops to “taking guns is the first step towards socialism” faster than you can say “I don’t think you know what socialism means.”
The problem is that right now if liberals say “We need more gun laws,” conservatives say “You can’t take my guns.” That’s not remotely the same conversation. This is like saying “I like potatoes,” only to hear “Lebron opted out of his contract.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I know FOR SURE that nobody is okay with mass murder and school shootings. That’s a universal point of agreement among everyone not named Hannibal Lecter.
What’s unfortunate is that the NRA has trained their followers into truly believing that any legislation is the first step towards a police state. I don’t know why conservatives assume we liberals want that. I mean, we don’t have some sort of jackboot fetish over here. I’m just as disapproving of being beaten with batons or crushed by a government tank as the next guy. But that’s not actually a real thing that is or could happen. And if it did happen, it wouldn’t be started by closing a gunshow loophole.
Why can’t both sides start with “mass murder is bad” and then walk backwards, determining the parameters both sides could accept. If we could start by both sides presenting what (A) they HAVE to have and (B) WILL NOT accept, I think we could do some real good. Let me make this concrete: I have a friend who said that banning different types of weapons was just not a starter for him. He wouldn’t agree to it. But then he conceded that gunshow loopholes are a problem. I CAN WORK WITH THAT. We ALL can work with that. So let’s have that conversation. The “Stop school shootings” versus “Guns don’t kill people” debate isn’t doing anything but cheesing us off at one another. And I’m already cheesy enough…
Issue number 3: Abortion
- What we talk about: Whether it is murder
- What we should talk about: Stopping unwanted pregnancies
- What I mean:
We’re never going to see eye to eye on the abortion debate. There’s no middle ground between a side that sees a women’s health issue and a side that sees genocide. However, even on the most contentious issue in America, we can find middle ground. That said, it only works if there is a bit of give from the conservative side…just a little.
Effective contraception prevents unwanted pregnancies, that’s just a fact. So does sex education. If the Pro-life position is that abortion is the single worst thing in the world, then they should be willing to look at any measures that may prevent that worst thing in the world. Going for an all-out ban is like trying to hit a grand slam with the bases loaded in extra innings and no outs. Try pushing a run over the plate with a base hit first. Sorry, this sports metaphor is getting away from me. Which reminds me of the time I saw a guy wearing a shirt that says “Derek Jeter Drinks Wine Coolers.” Hilarious. Crap, where were we…
Right, abortion: If the conservative side gave just a bit on the stance against contraception and sex ed, both sides could claim more of a victory. Because despite how it’s portrayed, there’s not one single person who is pro-choice that things abortion is a happy-go-lucky-fun-time.
Play this game at home!
Essentially, this strategy works for any contentious issue in America. Like LITERALLY any issue. Obamacare for example. The debate shouldn’t be “blow it to hell” or “leave it completely be.” It should be “what’s working, what isn’t, and how do we fix it.” If it’s me at my most Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, I’ll say that if we have reasoned conversations at home, those will carry into Washington. I believe it. Read the blog again in a Jimmy Stewart voice now. It’s hilarious.
At the end of the day, I believe in the power of logic. I believe in meaningful dialogue. I believe that this country is capable of talking to each other like adults.
I just hope it happens…