Inconsistency of political rhetoric harming civil discourse

Human beings, by nature, are inconsistent. It’s why we need binge diets to keep us healthy, iPhones to organize our lives, and talk radio to tell some of us what to think.

It’s why tend to be slightly irrational about some things and hold wildly incoherent beliefs about others.

The reason most of us lack consistency is because it’s hard.

Liberals are nodding.

I want to agree with things that benefit me, even if they don’t truly make sense. That’s the way of the world for most people.

And, since most people are apolitical, these beliefs are rational because to be rational is to understand and act based on person needs and gains.

But that’s why we need people in the media, people engaged with discourse in this country, to keep us on track. Keep the political paradigms moving forward.

Let me explain with an example in the news for the last several months.

The “worker’s rights” movement has been tied to the OWS movement, the 99% etc. Essentially their claim is that big bad businesses are preventing average people from working, or at least from making a living wage.

Furthermore, governments like Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, who have tried to curtail the excessive spending caused by public employee unions, are vilified as being anti-worker.

There’s a dangerous zero-sum game going on here.

Either you’re with us or you’re against us.

George W. Bush made mention of this in his speech declaring war on terror back in 2001.

The problem is, it’s a dangerous rhetorical tool to pit person against person.

If you were against the Iraq war you weren’t a patriot. You were un-American.

Now, if you don’t believe in the idiocy of Occupy, you’re a greedy, anti-civil rights war-hawk.

If you believe public employees should have to make concessions in order to prevent states from going bankrupt, you’re anti-worker’s rights, in the pocket of big business and a heartless human being worthy of shame and chastisement.

Because, of course, I couldn’t possibly believe  in fiscal responsibility in government.

In some measure, political arguments are often framed through the lens of these false choices. In one already failing school district last year, 600 teachers were laid off because the unions refused to budge on health care benefits and pension payments.

But, obviously, that union is all about providing for the students.

Don’t you dare ask the unions to give back because, why would they do that? They formed a union so they wouldn’t have to, even if giving a little would save jobs.

The unions would rather have that money to fill the pockets of their political allies who help perpetuate the prestige and power held by the unions.

Just ask our soon-to-be-former president.

When there are two clear sides of an issue, it’s easy to say if you disagree with one side, you must fall on the other.

If you don’t support our war on terror, you must be with the terrorists.

Or…I just think there’s another way to go about it.

If you don’t support public employee unions, you’re anti-worker’s rights.

Or, I believe in fiscal responsibility and equality through the public and private sectors.

It’s an easy trap to fall into, but in a war of ideas, in order to come out on top, you have to leave room for discussion, room for a gray area.

Unfortunately, that’s not how you win elections. People need clear choices and candidates love to be able to say things like, “If my opponent is elected, the worst possible things in the world will happen.”

Creating difference with your opponent, clear difference, even an opposite position, helps voters make choices.

Unfortunately it also creates divisiveness and irrationality.

Attitude reflects leadership. If our leaders can’t be consistent, how can our people be expected to act differently?

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