The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson
Containing His Articles, Observations, Thoughts, Meanderings,
and some would say Wisdom (and some would say not).
The following Article is about political discourse in today’s society and my opinion of them.
"Facts are stubborn things; and
whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of
our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
- John Adams, 'Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials,' December 1770
"Every man has a right to his own
opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts”
is credited to American financier Bernard M. Baruch (1870-1965), who said it in 1946.
“Everyone is entitled to his own
opinion, but not his own facts.”
- Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003), United States Senator from New York from 1976 to 2000
Facts should be utilized with intellectual reasoning to determine the truth. To do otherwise would abrogate the truth, and lead you to misjudgments. To allow emotions into your facts and reasoning will also lead to a falsehood.
You must, however, obtain all the facts before you apply intelligence and reasoning. This requires that you listen and read all sides of an issue, not just the side you agree with. You need to winnow out the facts to determine their applicability, their importance, and their usefulness to your reasoning. You must also weigh the facts in their importance, and give more credence to the more important facts in your reasoning. Intelligent reasoning then requires that you apply formal and informal logic to the remaining facts. At the end of this process, and not before, you can claim your decision is based on facts, intelligence, and reasoning.
In today’s society, it often seems that there is a religious fervor to the issues that are contentious. One side or the other makes up its mind on the issues and will cling to their opinion even in the presence of countervailing information. You must always be open to the possibility that your opinion may be incorrect based on the new or additional information. When this happens, you must be willing to modify your opinion based on this new or additional information. When I obtain new or additional information impacting an opinion of mine I thoroughly investigate this new or additional information, think and reason about what I have learned, and modify my opinion accordingly.
Or as Ben Franking has stated:
For having lived long, I have
experienced many instances of being obliged by better information,
or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important
subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.
It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt
my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of
- Benjamin Franklin
Doubt a little of your own
- Benjamin Franklin
In my writings, I have often commented upon utilizing the proper facts to reason. But what are proper or improper facts? Proper facts are facts that are correct and complete – which can be difficult to define. Therefore, I have extracted quotes about facts that may help you to better understand proper and improper facts:
" Everyone is entitled to their own
opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."
- New York Senator Danial Patrick Moynihan
"Assertions are not facts, as they
often contain Presumptions and Assumptions; Improper Facts, Faulty
Reasoning; Logical Fallacies; Cognitive Biases; and the problems
of Unintended Consequences that may be inherent in any assertion."
- Mark Dawson
“Facts are stubborn things; and
whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of
our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
- John Adams
“Facts do not "speak for
themselves." They speak for or against competing theories. Facts
divorced from theory or visions are mere isolated curiosities.”
- Thomas Sowell
"I'd rather be factually correct
than politically correct."
- Mark Dawson
"If you torture the data long
enough, it will confess to anything."
- from Darrell Huff's book "How to Lie with Statistics" (1954)
"Just because you 'believe'
something to be true does not mean that you 'know' something is
true, and just because someone says it is true doesn't make it
- Mark Dawson
“Incorrect facts, incomplete facts,
improper facts, ignored facts, irrelevant facts, misinterpreted
facts, misstated facts, misunderstood facts, unknown facts, and
sloganeering replacement for facts are widespread and believed in
- Mark Dawson
“The trouble with the world is not
that people know too little; it's that they know so many things
that just aren't so.”
- Mark Twain
This is why, whenever I write or speak, I try to not be wrong as I have Chirp on, "11/09/19 To Be Right or Not to Be Wrong". Being not wrong in the sense that I try to utilize the proper facts and proper reasoning as in the section "With Facts, Intelligence, and Reasoning" of my "Dialog & Debate" article, as well as my "Reasoning" article. For to ascertain the truth, you should remember:
“There can be no truths without
proper facts and proper reasoning.”
- Mark Dawson
Many (if not most) of today's political debate is about feelings. But feelings do not make for good policy. Facts, intelligence, and "Reasoning" should be utilized to create policy, with feelings being used as a supplement to thinking. The difference is that feelings are emotionally based, while thinking is reason based. But emotions are easy, while thinking is hard. Always remember that the only good way to create public policy is by an open and honest discussion of the issues based on facts, intelligence and reasoning (reasoned based). All sides of an issue should be heard and debated to assure that the best public policy is implemented. To do so otherwise often creates more problems than it solves. Doing so also reduces the “The Law of Unintended Consequences”, as discussed in another article of mine.
What defines a libertarian, conservative, moderate/centrist, liberal/progressive, or socialist. As there are no objective criteria for this, and each person has a subjective opinion of their position on this scale. You also have the pejoratives of far-right, left-winger, wishy-washy, flip-flopper, Communist, Fascist, Nazi, etc... Pejoratives should be avoided, as they are an attempt to disrepute someone (refer to my observation "Libertarian, Conservative, Centrist, Liberal/Progressive, Or A Socialist" for more pejoratives). The definition of what defines the political philosophy of these various groups is the subject of another observation of mine. This observation is that each person has a different opinion of where they are, or others are, on this scale. They may be correct, but they may also be incorrect, and since this is a subjective opinion there may be no correct or incorrect opinion. The important point is since these opinions are subjective you should be wary of accepting any label of someone unless it is a self-induced label (which could also be inaccurate). Also, some people have multiple positions on this scale based on the issue or policy. In this case, it is difficult to label (or pigeonhole) a person. Many people also assume that their opinions are the opinions of the majority. This often occurs when they have had little contact or exposure with persons with whom they may differ. When they fall into this trap it is easier to misrepresent where another's position is in regard to their position. They may also think that their opinion is the mainstream opinion, and other opinions to the left or right of theirs are conservative or liberal (or more likely a pejorative is employed). You should never accept anyone’s label of another and should make up your own mind based on what the person has actually said or done. Also, be cognizant that your opinion of your own position on this scale may not be the opinion of others as they evaluate your position on this scale. So, don't be surprised if someone labels your opinion other than what you would label your opinion.
Most political debate today is not to provide illumination on an issue, but to obtain a visceral reaction (i.e. Light versus Heat). Illumination requires thought and sufficient time to explain the issue. In today’s world, we want everything done quickly, and do not wish to spend the time or effort necessary to provide illumination on an issue. A visceral reaction can be accomplished with very little effort or time. This is mostly true in television discussion involving a point and counter-point panel discussion. Due to the constraints of television advertising the discussion is often limited to a short segment (usually seven minutes), before going onto another subject or issue. Illumination cannot be done in a few minutes, but a visceral reaction can be invoked in a few seconds. When television does interview a single person they often jump from issue to issue within the time segment, thus not providing much illumination on an individual issue. This is not good for the body politic as it is difficult to understand or reach a consensus on an issue without illumination.
The only acceptable method of political discourse is disagreement - to be of different opinions. While you are in disagreement you should be cognizant that people of good character can and often disagree with each other. The method of their disagreement is very important to achieve civil discourse. There are two ways you can disagree with someone; by criticizing their opinions or beliefs or critiquing their opinions or beliefs.
- Criticism - Disapproval expressed by pointing out faults or shortcomings
- Critique - A serious examination and judgment of something
Most people and most commentators have forgotten the difference between Criticism and Critique. This has led to the hyper-partisanship in today’s society. In a civil society critiquing a viewpoint or policy position should be encouraged. This will often allow for a fuller consideration of the issues, and perhaps a better viewpoint or policy position without invoking hyper-partisanship. We can expect that partisanship will often occur, as people of good character can and often disagree with each other. Criticizing a viewpoint or policy position will often lead to hostility, rancor, and enmity, which results in the breakdown of civil discourse and hyper-partisanship. It is fine to criticize someone for their bad or destructive behavior, but it is best to critique them for their opinions or words. We would all do better if we remember to critique someone, rather than criticize someone.
When the message is troubling a common counterpoint is to attack the messenger. This is done in the hope that the message will not be talked about. Of course, the messenger must be considered. After all, the messenger may have a bias or agenda that taints the message. It is also incumbent upon the messenger to supply evidence that the message is correct. After you consider the messengers’ character and the evidence supplied to determine if the message may be correct, you need to consider the message as well as the messenger. Even if the messenger is lacking in some aspect if the message is supported by evidence the message must be considered. Even if you do not particularly care for the messenger, or disagree with their politics or policies if there is evidence to support the message you must consider the message. To demonize, denigrate, or disparage the messenger to avoid consideration of the message is not acceptable if the message has supporting evidence.
Political opponents in today's society often utilize the dialog and debate methodology of Demonize, Denigrate, and Disparage when discussing issues, policies, and personages. A short definition of these terms, followed by a perspective on their utilization is as follows:
- To turn into or as if into a demon.
- To possess by or as if by a demon.
- To represent as evil or diabolic:
- To attack the character or reputation of; speak ill of; defame:
- To disparage; belittle:
- To speak of in a slighting or disrespectful way.
- To reduce in esteem or rank.
Liberals (aka Progressives) are most guilty of this, as they often do not want an honest and reasonable dialog and debate on the issues, but they rather want acquiescence or silence from their opponents. In my years of observing how liberals behave in public discourse, I have come to some general observations on how they conduct themselves. These observations are:
- The liberal charges that their opponent is a bigot, racist, sexist, homophobic, Islam-phobic, anti-Hispanic, mean-spirited or a money grubbing person, instead of arguing the facts and wisdom of their position (emotional, non-intellectual discourse).
- Sexist, Intolerant, Xenophobic, Homophobic, Islamophobia, Racist and Bigoted, mean-spirited or a money grubbing person is not an argument, but an adjective meant to intimidate into silence a person who disagrees with a liberal (epithets).
- A Liberal can assert anything they want to without having to prove their assertion. When challenged they claim you are wrong, and that you must prove them wrong (proving a negative).
- A liberal is often asked, "What would you do?" However, instead of answering what they would do they give a long list of what they wouldn't do. Therefore, you are never quite sure what their position is (never stating a firm policy).
When a conservative and liberal disagree the conservative believes the liberal is wrong. However, the liberal often believes that the conservative is a racist, sexist, homophobic, mean-spirited or a money grubbing person. The liberal/progressive then attempts to argue against a conservative position by utilizing the following Three D's tactics:
- Denigrate: criticize somebody or something to make somebody or something seem unimportant.
- Disparage: to refer disapprovingly or contemptuously to somebody or something.
- Demonize: cause somebody or something to appear evil or threatening in the eyes of others.
The liberal/progressive utilizes these as arguments in order to intimidate a conservative into silence or to intimidate a listener through guilt into not paying attention to a conservative. This method is often used by Liberals to argue with Conservatives. It illustrates how intellectually bereft many of their ideas are.
Either way, these methods of the liberal/progressive is a bulling attempting to win their argument not through reason or intellect, but by silencing all opposition. This is very bad for the body politick as it cannot lead to understanding, and possible compromise, to achieve a reasonable solution to public policy. Indeed, it often leads to bitter partisanship as the liberal opponent feels oppressed, and the liberal/progressive feels righteous. The liberal/progressive will then demand bi-partisanship, and since they are righteous, and the opponent is a demon, the liberal/progressive policy should be adopted.
I have also noticed that recently the Three D's techniques are starting to be utilized by conservatives. They should be ashamed of this, and all sides should stop utilizing this technique forthwith.
When having a debate or dialog you should always keep in mind the following 10 Commandments:
A brief explanation of these commandments is from Relatively Interesting:
- Though shall not attack the person’s character, but
the argument itself. (“Ad hominem”)
Example: Dave listens to Marilyn Manson, therefore his arguments against certain parts of religion are worthless. After all, would you trust someone who listens to that devil worshiper?
- Though shall not misrepresent or exaggerate a person’s
argument in order to make them easier to attack. (“Straw man
Example: After Jimmy said that we should put more money into health and education, Steve responded by saying that he was surprised that Jimmy hates our country so much that he wants to leave it defenseless by cutting military spending.
- Though shall not use small numbers to represent the
whole. (“Hasty generalization”)
Example: Climate change deniers take a small sample set of data to demonstrate that the earth is cooling, not warming. They do this by zooming in on 10 years of data, ignoring the trend that is present in the entire data set which spans a century.
- Though shall not argue thy position by assuming one of
its premises is true. (“Begging the question”)
Sheldon: “God must exist.”
Wilbert: “How do you know?”
Sheldon: “Because the bible says so.”
Wilbert: “Why should I believe the bible?”
Sheldon: “Because the bible was written by God.”
Here, Sheldon is making the assumption that the bible is true, therefore his premise – that God exists – is also true.
- Though shall not claim that because something occurred
before, but must be the cause. (“Post hoc/false cause”).
This can also be read as “correlation does not imply causation”.
Example: There were 3 murders in Dallas this week and on each day, it was raining. Therefore, murders occur on rainy days.
- Though shall not reduce the argument down to only two
possibilities when there is a clear middle ground. (“False
Example: You’re either with me, or against me. Being neutral is not an option.
- Though shall not argue that because of our ignorance,
the claim must be true or false. (“Ad ignorantiam”).
Example: 95% Of unidentified flying objects have been explained. 5% Have not. Therefore, the 5% that are unexplained prove that aliens exist.
- Though shall not lay the burn of proof onto him that
is questioning the claim. (“Burden of proof reversal”).
Example: Marcy claims she sees the ghosts of dead people, then challenges you to prove her wrong. The burden of proof is on Marcy, not you, since Marcy made the extraordinary claim.
- Though shall not assume that “this” follows “that”,
when “it” has no logical connection. (“Non sequitur”).
Similar, but the difference between the post hoc and non sequitur fallacies is that, whereas the post hoc fallacy is due to lack of a causal connection, in the non sequitur fallacy, the error is due to lack of a logical connection.
Example: If you do not buy this vitamin x supplements for your infant, you are neglecting her.
- Though shall not claim that because a premise is
popular, therefore, it must be true. (“Bandwagon fallacy”).
Example: Just because a celebrity like Dr. Oz endorses a product, it doesn’t make it any more legitimate.
To properly reason you need to understand Formal and Informal Logic, Logical Fallacies, Cognitive Biases, and Common Sense. These must always be ascertained and incorporated for a rational debate to occur. You must also be aware of how to utilize common sense appropriately. My article "Reasoning" is an outline of Formal and Informal Logic, Logical Fallacies, Cognitive Biases, and Common Sense.
The person asserting something has the responsibility of proving their assertion is correct. The person disputing the assertion has no responsibility to prove the other person’s assertion is incorrect. Too often, in today’s political debates, one side or the other makes an assertion without justifying their assertion. Indeed, they often imply or retort that the other side must prove them wrong. Assertions also contain Presumptions; Assumptions; Incorrect Facts; Incomplete Facts; Missing Facts; Irrelevant Facts; Faulty Reasoning; Logical Fallacies; Cognitive Biases; and the Unintended Consequences problems that may be inherent in the assertion. The deconstruction of an assertion to determine the validity of the assertion may take considerable time and effort. Unless an assertion is not disputable it should be questioned to determine if it contains any of these problems. Generally, the assertion of facts is indisputable. However, the meaning of these facts is often disputable. Therefore, when someone makes an assertion about the meaning of the facts you need to carefully examine the assertion to determine its validity.
In all science, engineering, law, philosophy, theology, economics, statistics, and many other areas of human interactions the “Burden of Proof” is upon the person or persons who makes the assertion. Otherwise, we could end up with the following absurd situation:
Someone could assert that Martians eat garbage and urinate gasoline. If they did not have to prove their assertion, but someone had to disprove their assertion, then the following would be necessary to disprove the assertion. The person disproving the assertion would have to prove there is no such thing as Martians, or if there were Martians prove that they did not eat garbage, and if there were Martians that ate garbage they would have to prove that they did not urinate gasoline.
Obviously, it is not possible to prove or disprove these things. Therefore, the person who asserts something bears the burden of proving that their assertion is correct. Consequently, you must always challenge a person who asserts something to prove their assertion is correct, and their proof must be based upon “Reasoning” rather than emotions, for emotions will almost always lead to a false conclusion.
As Christopher Hitchens once said, "That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." To agree to disagree requires that both sides must present cogent arguments, explanations, or reasoning for their assertions. Otherwise, it is not possible to disagree with the party that does present a cogent argument, explanation, or reasoning, you can only dismiss their assertion. You may also fall in the trap of trying to prove a negative, which is almost impossible to do. You should also remember that ‘Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’. You should, therefore, challenge a person who asserts something to prove their assertion. If they can offer no reasonable proof for an assertion, then their assertion can be simply dismissed. Otherwise, you get into the situation that "if you cannot prove that they are wrong then they must be right", which is obviously a fallacious statement.
I have observed that in modern political discourse (and probably a historical political discourse) one-party will establish their position, then assert the position of the other party at the extreme opposite of their position. This is a despicable and wholly inappropriate manner to debate political issues. It is unacceptable because there are many different positions between the two extremes. These different positions need to be reasoned about and discussed to determine if they provide a more acceptable solution to the policy issue. It is despicable because you are putting words and thoughts into another's mouth and head, and then often severely criticizing them for the words and thoughts you put into their mouth and head. It is your responsibility only to speak your own thoughts and reasoning, or to quote the words of another person.
After both sides have laid out their reasoning and conclusions then it is fair to critique the others reasoning or conclusions, based on what they have stated, not what you have stated for them.
Too often in today’s political debates or discussions someone will ask a question of another and the answer to the question is to ignore the question and start iterating a talking point. Talking points that do not answer the question, but simply state the policy or position of the answerer. Sometimes the talking points are an answer to the question the answerer wanted to be asked, but not answering the question that was asked.
Other times the answerer will respond by asking the questioner a question rather than answering the question. This is not really an answer but a deflection to not answer the question. The answerer should not get to ask a question until they answer the questioners’ question. After all, if the answerer is going to ignore the questioner's question then the questioner can ignore the answerer's question.
These techniques are done in order to not answer a question, usually because the answer to the question would expose a weakness or illogic in the answerers’ policy or position. I find that these techniques are extremely frustrating as they do not illuminate the policy or position, but obfuscate the policy or position.
Therefore, whenever I listen to a debate or discussion where these techniques are utilized I become very wary. I am also disturbed as this is an attempt to preclude the exchange of reasonable and intelligent discussion or debate on policies and positions. It also makes me reevaluate the person, and the policy and position, of the person who evoked these techniques. I would suggest that you do the same.
Many who argue a political issue resort to Obfuscation, Smoke, and Mirrors. The activity of obscuring people's understanding, leaving them baffled or bewildered. It is done by inserting oblique facts, exceptions to the rule, and the perfect vs. the practical. You must always go the core issue and examine its meaning.
An example of this is the 18th-century debate on slavery. Many arguments were made against slavery, but the core issue was very simple. If you believe in the human right of a person to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness, then no person can deprive another person of these human rights. Therefore, no person can own another person as this violates the human right of the slave. Therefore, the debate should have been concluded and slavery should be abolished. At that point, you could discuss the practical means of abolishing slavery and then implemented the agreed actions.
When engaging in a debate blow away the Obfuscation, Smoke, and Mirrors and get to the core issue. Determine the facts and truths of the issue, then debate the actions to be taken.
Putting words into someone’s mouth, then criticizing the words you put into their mouth is another argumentative technique too often utilized in today’s political discussions and debates. This technique is to rephrase or restate what someone has said in the most negative connotation possible or to add negative statements into another’s mouth. The person who put the words into another’s mouth then goes on to criticize the words they put into someone’s mouth. This is a dishonest and despicable tactic and wholly inappropriate manner to debate political issues as it is often done to disparage, denigrate, or demonize someone in the hope that the audience will not pay attention to what the other person actually said. It is your responsibility to only speak your own thoughts and reasoning or to quote the words of another person. After both sides have laid out their reasoning and conclusions then it is fair to critique the others reasoning or conclusions, based on what they have stated, not what you have stated for them.
Torturous and Convoluted Reasoning is another tactic used by those who engage in political debates. It is most often done to confuse the audience into accepting a conclusion that does not follow the facts or logic. It often contains many hidden assumptions that when they are exposed reveal the faultiness of the argument. When examining the argument, you should keep in mind a variation of Occam's Razor - “The simplest explanation, that fits all the known facts, is most often the correct explanation”. Be suspicious when someone presents Torturous and Convoluted Reasoning to convince you of their conclusion. Examine the premises of the argument, seek out the hidden assumptions, assure that the logic of the argument contains no logical fallacies or cognitive biases before you accept the conclusions (as explained in my Observation on “Reasoning”). If you do this, you have a much greater chance of reaching the truth. A Torturous and Convoluted Logic argument may end up being true, but I would not bet on it.
Euphemism - An inoffensive or indirect expression that is substituted for one that is considered offensive or too harsh abound in today’s politically correct speech. But euphemisms can be very dangerous when utilized in regard to national security and social policy. In order to solve a problem, you need to recognize that you have a problem, clearly define the problem, and then clearly state the solution. Euphemisms do not contribute to clarity and indeed are often utilized to obscure the problem. Euphemisms are often utilized when identifying groups of people in order not to offend members of the groups, or to be deceptive as to the parties who are part of the problem or who are the victims of the problem. Euphemisms are often a means to doublespeak - language that pretends to communicate but actually does not. Disingenuousness - not straightforward or candid; giving a false appearance of frankness - is often the result when euphemisms and doublespeak are utilized.
When euphemisms are utilized in national security situations, we cannot clearly address the problems and solutions to terrorism and international aggression. When it comes to violence perpetrators and victims need to be clearly defined to identify the source and targets of the violence. Euphemisms, doublespeak, and disingenuousness do not solve any problems, and they contribute to the problem or allow the problem to fester. Anyone who utilizes euphemisms, doublespeak, or is disingenuousness needs to be ignored in order to solve a problem.
The perversion of the English language is one of the ways in which to confuse an issue. This English language perversion is accomplished by inventing new words and terms, assigning new meanings to current words and terms, and conflating the meanings of two words and terms. Language is the way we communicate our thoughts and feelings, and perverting language leads to less understanding and more misinterpretation.
Protologism (freshly coined) and neologism (new word) are important parts of the development of the English language. However, protologism words need time to develop a firm meaning and acceptance before they become a neologism. In political dialog and debate, most often, a protologism is a pejorative that has been created to defame a person involved in a discussion, dialog, or debate.
The adding of a new meaning to a word is often done to take an innocuous or positive connotative word or term to insert a contentious meaning to the word or term so that the contentious meaning is more acceptable. Consequently, anyone who would dispute the more contentious meaning of the word or term appears to be disputing the innocuous or positive connotative of the word or term, which puts them at a perceived disadvantage in any discussion, dialog, or debate.
The conflation of words and terms is often done to ameliorate a disputable word or term with an unequivocal word or term. Often these words or terms are antithetic to each other. By conflating these words or terms, they have taken the positive emotional appeal of a word or term to attribute this positive emotional appeal to the contentiousness of the other word or term.
When this abuse of language is being deliberately done, it is often being done for the purpose of obtaining power through sophistry (a deliberately invalid argument displaying ingenuity in reasoning in the hope of deceiving someone). A sophistry that has been utilized throughout history and first examined by Plato. A great philosopher of the 20th century, Josef Pieper, reflects in his book, Abuse Of Language Abuse Of Power, on the way language has been abused so that, instead of being a means of communicating the truth and entering more deeply into it, and of the acquisition of wisdom, it is being used to control people and manipulate them to achieve political and practical ends.
In today's America, this perversion of the English language is a technique utilized by Progressives/Leftists, Big Tech, Mainstream Media, Mainstream Cultural Media, Modern Big Business, Modern Education, and Social Media to manipulate the American public into accepting their policy goals and political agendas. Policy goals and political agendas that, if they were clearly stated, the American public would not be acceptable of these policies and agendas.
Much of this abuse of language is done in the name of Political Correctness, Activists and Activism, Adjective Justice, Virtue Signaling, Cancel Culture, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), Doxing, Hate Speech, Identity Politics, Racist, Wokeness, Hyper-Partisanship, Equity and Equality, the Greater Good versus the Common Good, Social Engineering, and to institute a Herd Mentality as I have written in my "Terminology" webpage.
Reality becomes intelligible through words. Man speaks so that through naming things, what is real may become intelligible. This mediating character of language, however, is being increasingly corrupted. Despotism, propaganda, and mass media destroy and distort words. They offer us apparent realities whose fictive character threatens to become opaque.
Much like Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll's ‘Through the Looking Glass’, those that pervert the English language have adopted an attitude of:
“'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty
said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to
mean ' neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master ' that's all.'”
And people who pervert the English language to advance their policy goals and political agendas are simply trying to be your masters.
The first Presidential Debate of the election of 2020 was a mess. A mess on all sides; President Trump’s side, Vice-President Biden’s side, and the moderator Chris Wallace’s side. The interruptions, the talking-over, the utilization of "The Three D's (Demonize, Denigrate, Disparage) of Modern Political Debate", and the general immoderation of all parties was unworthy of being called a debate, but more like a verbal brawl. Nobody acquitted themselves well, and all parties to this debate were equally responsible, and no one party bears the brunt for this mess. No one who watched these debates came away better informed, nor would they settle or change their minds on which candidate to support.
The reasons for this are many and varied, but the ultimate reason is the systemic failure of the format of the debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates is archaic and ill-suited for modern presidential politics. As with all such commissions, they have become self-absorbed and pretentious and, therefore, they have also outlived their usefulness. It is time to end the Commission on Presidential Debates and formulate a better format for Presidential Debates.
The current format for Presidential Debates is not conducive to illumination. Besides the journalistic bias (see my observation on “Modern Journalism”), many of the questions are intended to provoke a visceral reaction. I would suggest we return to the format of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Three Presidential and one Vice-Presidential debate would be scheduled. For the Presidential Debates one debate on Foreign Policy, one debate on Domestic Policy, and one debate on any other issues. The Vice-Presidential Debate would be for any issue. Each candidate would prepare six questions they want to ask the other candidate on the debate topic. The first candidate would get two minutes to ask their first question, and the other candidate would then get five minutes to respond to the question, with the questioner then getting three minutes to rebut the answer. The other candidate would then get to ask their first question utilizing the same constrictions. This would go back and forth until all six questions from each candidate would be debated. The moderator would only be responsible for assuring the candidates stay within their time constrictions and do not interrupt the other candidate during their allotted time.
I believe that this format would provide a better forum for each candidate to express themselves and bring out the issues that they believe are important for the American people to understand. The questions the candidate asks would also illuminate the character and integrity of the candidate. The answers and rebuttals would further illuminate the American people and allow them to make a better judgment on the candidates. This also puts the debates into the hands of the candidates - where it belongs.