Random Thoughts on Discussing Politics

As we get closer to another presidential election I’ve been mentally preparing for the frenzy of people arguing each other down in support of their favorite candidate. If someone asks you who you’re voting for, you better have the right answer or they may just insult your mother, or slap you in the face.

If anyone reading this knows me personally they know I used to be a political science major. I actually started college in a really huge election year, 2004. For those who don’t know that’s the year George W. Bush got re-elected.

As you would imagine I’m no stranger to debating politics with peers. Unfortunately this is the very reason I ended up changing my major. Politics seems to be one of the worst topics to discuss with someone who doesn’t agree with you. I’m not saying being passionate about politics is a bad thing. To the contrary I think more people should get informed on the issues and take a stance.

What I am saying is people tend to put way to much energy on wining an argument and not enough of exchanging ideas. When political debates start taking a turn for the worse they begin to get entirely too personal. I’ve seen friendships end over heated arguments on political views. It got to a point where I was afraid to tell people I was political science major because I knew the next question would be what did I think about the war on Iraq. Then I knew people would be ready to jump down my throat if I said the wrong answer. Eventually I lost my love of discussing politics altogether and changed my major.

People have lost sight of the purpose debating, particularly among friends. The point is to exchange ideas. Each person presents their stance on an issue and they can either agree or disagree. If you can get the other person to change their opinion to match yours then that’s great, but they aren’t obligated to. And no that doesn’t give you the right to insult them personally or curse at them. Afterall the first amendment garuntees us all the right to free speech (or so we’re told). You don’t have to like what anyone says but they still have the right to say it whether you like it or not.

My question is how do heated arguments help the country exactly? Why do people put so much energy in winning an argument about politics and not enough energy into actually getting up and doing something to advance their cause? It’s about more than just voting. If people are passionate enough about their political views to curse others out over them, then why don’t they channel that energy into something productive…like organizing a protest or a fund-raiser? Does ranting and raving and cursing people out ever really accomplish anything?