Politics tend to be a taboo subject of discussion. Often, it is a talking point mired by emotional arguments and the art of waving facts in one another’s faces. Personally, I find discussing politics thrilling, as it is a way to have an intellectual conversation about current events as well as hear different parts of a story. Recently, it feels like politics have become a game of mud slinging and verbal taunts. The once proud decorum of political conversation has become a slime-fest of immature comments and illogical fallacies. I believe that this can change. We have become so numb to the relentless onslaught of verbal abuse that we have forgotten the true art of political conversation. So, to help rekindle the political decorum in us all, I will give three tips on how to discuss politics with friends, enemies, professors, coworkers, families, loved ones, and random strangers who challenge you on your ideals.
The first tip is to research topics of interest. There is an old adage that teachers would say in class to keep order: “Every opinion matters.” I would like to dispel this notion. While it is perfectly fine to have an opinion on a subject, if evidence cannot be given to support a claim, then that opinion bares less relevance than one that supports a claim with empirical evidence and logic. I tend to think myself a highly opinionated person. Anyone who reads my weekly articles knows this by now, but I always do my best to try to provide evidence and logic to my claims. In this same line of thought, one must also be careful to not bury another individual in a mountain of evidence. The point of political conversation is to provoke ideas and challenge beliefs, not so much to show who’s right and who’s wrong. When having a discussion on a domestic issue, there must be a fine balance of evidence and analysis. It is all well and grand to have an opinion and credible evidence to back it up, but without any analysis, there is very little discussion to actually be had.
My second tip is to always be cordial and respectful when discussing politics. While this sounds easy and self explanatory, politics are a booby-trapped room that even Indiana Jones would not want to venture into. When someone is screaming their ideals in your face, it can be very hard to maintain a calm presence and not fire back, but remaining respectful can help defuse tense situations. There are a couple of ways that all individuals participating in political discussions can show respect and still defend their point. First, do not try to reassert yourself when someone brings up an opinion you do not agree with. This is a particularly hard one, especially for me. But the easiest way to show respect to colleagues is to let them finish their thoughts before giving a rebuttal. This simple act can go a long way in providing a stable atmosphere for discussing politics. Second, never raise your voice. Another act I am guilty of in conversations — it is crucial to never raise your voice at someone. The moment this happens, the discussion is no longer about policy, but about the individual who was just shouted at. This causes a great deal of tension, and can lead to a snowball effect of verbal taunts and flaring tempers. No one is perfect, and if by chance you raise your voice, apologize right away. The final cordial act is to concede points you have lost. This is the hardest of the three tips of respect, as it can be very uncomfortable to admit a mistake. But that is the entire point of politics: to discuss and debate, and sometimes change a mind. Admitting a mistake or a well thought out point can show a great level of respect for the other person, and can open the door for more intellectual conversations.
My final tip is to challenge a person on their political beliefs. Too often we let statements that may not be necessarily true go unchecked. This has caused misinformation and incorrect political beliefs to run rampant in U.S. politics. A clear example of this is regarding immigration. So often there is talk of “stopping illegals” and “securing our borders,” but many people do not seem to understand the problems plaguing border security. Problems like low amounts of immigration courts, how illegal immigrants actually get in, and the economic ramifications of illegal immigrants are simply not discussed in modern politics. Instead, conversations are based almost solely on emotions (examples of this can be found on CNN and Fox News), and these beliefs are rarely, if ever, challenged. The end goal of political conversations should be about challenging beliefs. If this is not happening, then what exactly is the point of talking about politics? Despite popular belief, challenging someone does not mean it is a rude or vulgar act. Instead, it is a call for clarification and a chance to provide insight on a point of view a person may never have thought about.
There you have it! After being interested in politics for such a long time, I have picked up a few handy tips that I use on a daily basis. I base my tips off of observations of how people interact with each other politically. And after having various conversations with different people from all across the political spectrum, I feel that these three points are good guidelines to live by. Politics is such an enjoyable conversation topic when discussed properly. It is a mental muscle flexer, and can serve as a unifier for individuals all across the United States. Politics is about discussion rather than what is right or wrong. While it is a difficult subject to navigate, I believe that by following the points laid out in this article, it is possible to have an enjoyable and refreshing conversation on the topic of politics.