Tag Archives: Republican Party

Quantity over Quality

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When we hear many politicians try to add weight to their arguments, they often will add references to their own lives, “I served in the Army for 20 years,” or “Having been a lawyer for 35 years.” In this way, they seek to promote their argument through the weight of what they possess. One of the most common that was used by Congressional Republicans in order to prove they are not misogynists like Trump was to bring their “wives and daughters” into their argument. This is a technique that I like to call rhetorical quantifying, a way of attempting to prop up a fairly weak, or entirely unoriginal argument by showing how one’s relates to the topic, whether it be through family, friends, acquaintances, or personal possessions.

 I’ll be completely honest; this tactic really annoys me. A valid argument will always be able to stand on its own without the help of some extra quantitative fluff. It doesn’t matter that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is married to a woman, nor that he has a daughter, what matters is that his argument is valid. Yet what makes this tactic go by with so little press is that the general public has largely accepted it. People in all situations will attempt to bolster their position in a discussion, argument, or even a fight by trying to show how much better they are than someone else.

 On Saturday, at the height of the chaos unleashed by White Supremacists on Charlottesville, Virginia, a 20 year old from Ohio named James Fields drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors killing one and injuring nineteen others. Upon hearing the news from reporters, his mother in the spur of the moment used this same technique pointing out that her son “had an African American friend.” While she was certainly in the early stages of processing all that her son had done, and the fact that he will quite possibly spend the rest of his life in prison, the way in which she attempted to counter his white supremacist actions by bringing his African American friend into the conversation shows the weakness of this argument. It does not matter that he was friends with someone who is not of European descent, what matters are his intentions and actions.

 Rhetorical quantifying rests heavily upon two particular issues, firstly the use of non-consequential evidence within an argument, that is mentioning one’s connection to a certain group of people or things in an attempt to bolster one’s argument and secondly the inherent possessiveness of quantifying. In regards to the argument itself, both issues are inevitably overshadowed by the fundamental reality that quantifying distracts from the main argument. A listener who should be paying close attention to a politician’s weak denial of misogyny is instead distracted by the sudden appearance of all of the female members of that politicians’ nuclear family.

 Rhetorical quantifying is just one of many tools a speaker can use to distract an audience away from a main point that might be rather unseemly. Though not as irritating as pivoting, an art form exhibited beautifully by Senator Al Franken on The Late Show on 1 August, rhetorical quantifying is a tried and true way to avoid answering the question and attempt to cover one’s tracks. Undoubtedly there will be those in Congress and in many state houses across the country that will use rhetorical quantifying to distance themselves from any of the white nationalist groups that partook in the rally this weekend in Charlottesville. Yet while they may gather together all of their connections to both religious and ethnic minority communities, these individuals will still be wolves in sheepskins.

 Rhetorical quantifying is a deceptive tool used to distract. Yet it is a deception that has become so commonplace we hardly notice it. We should consider our arguments carefully and consider whether what we say contributes or distracts from what we are arguing. In my book, rhetorical quantifying is a quasi-boastful tactic to be avoided at all costs.

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The Problem with our Politics

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Political parties and politics do serve a purpose in the betterment and stability of society, no matter how unstable they may seem. A political party is a tool by which people of a common perspective can organise and promote their principles and philosophy with one voice. These parties in turn have the ability to take that philosophy to the pinnacle of government and power and propose it as policy, should said party be elected into office. Yet when party comes before public the political process shows signs of putridity and decay.

Today there are a variety of party systems in use around the globe; often they are organised based upon the number of parties they allow for. Here in the United States, the political process operates on a two-party system, yet throughout Europe most polities operate on a multi-party system. Likewise, in some states one will find a dominant party system, which is essentially a one-party state yet with the trappings of a two-party or multi-party state. Each system does justice to its respective society, as only that party system which adheres to the framework of its respective society can properly do justice to its public. Yet in some cases the frameworks set up in some cases generations ago to keep the wheels of government well oiled and turning have proven themselves to be susceptible to rust and degradation.

If anything is going to halt the Republican Party’s march towards dominance in all branches of the Federal Government, it will be this principle that politics unbounded from the public need will always be overwhelmed by the public will. If the Republicans want to maintain their overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives in the 2018 General Election, they need to cast astray the bull that they let into the china shop at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. They must disassociate themselves from Trumpism and all its baggage. If the Republicans want to stay in power they should move swiftly with the transference of power from the current President towards the next guilt-free individual on the Order of Succession.

And yet, in a somewhat comical way, the House Republicans will most likely stand by their man to the bitter end. Like a pompous captain remaining aboard his sinking ship they will be submerged into the muck and mire that spreads from the current President like a virus. It certainly seems to me that that infection is too wide spread in the halls of power in Washington for any executive change to be made prior to November 2018. Perhaps then it is up to the Democrats to take the advantage and not only expel one of the greatest embarrassments to ever befall this country from that house across from Lafayette Square, but to also regain a more sizeable position in the House from which their own philosophy can shine.

The politics of the present are all too embittered by a bad case of food poisoning. Those in power more often than not seem poisoned by the power they wield, and the personal prosperity it proposes to offer. They have proven themselves to be far too unworthy of the position of public servant through their venomous guile, their lack of transparency, and their blatant disregard for the public will. If we are not careful, this poison could sink not only the current political parties, but the entire ship of state as well. The act of preserving the body politick is a duty not just of those in positions of power, but of all citizens, all persons with a vested interest in the continued goodwill and wellbeing of the body politick. It is just as much our responsibility to reform our political processes, as it is the responsibility of those in power.

If this reform is to be successful, it must be done without violence, but through discussion, debate, and dialogue. This reform must be on all levels and must include all individuals with a desire to take part. We must craft our political society in the image of the public that it serves; otherwise that political society will only grow to serve itself. Should that happen, we will be right back were we are now, and I doubt that would be anyone’s preferred outcome.