You don’t want to win the argument, you want to get your way

The title is a quote I read this week in Readers Digest, where famous people noted the best advice they ever received. It was offered by Paul Steiger, the former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal. This quote resonated with me as it sums up the objective of politicians. “You don’t want to win the argument, you want to get your way.” And, this is one of the problems.

With it taking so much money to get elected, politicians are beholden to an oligarchy of donors whose influence is significant. They are the kinds of people who want their calls answered or returned immediately. When you shell out tens (or hundreds) of millions of dollars, you want the representative to represent your interests.

Being right or winning an argument is irrelevant. These folks just want to get their way. This is a key reason non-sensical arguments continue in the public vernacular. The oligarchy wants its way. They want to perpetuate their business model at all costs, even if the model is dangerous to people or the environment. They want to be protected if the market starts to buy fewer of their product, as free market capitalism to them is only I can get help, not you.

If you think about major issues, be it doing something about climate change, paying people better, governing gun use and sales better, protecting the financial interests of consumers, making sure people have access to health care, etc., the oligarchy does not want anything standing in their way. They want their economic engine firing on all cylinders.

Being right matters little. It is even more true today, when these folks can spin-doctor and influence pseudo news sources to make folks believe that their revenue generation is more apple pie than getting all people a square deal. This is why it is critical to advocate for change in our voting and campaign laws. They do not want to change the laws, as their influence has been enhanced by recent changes. This is why it is also critical to stay informed from good sources of news and information.

We can win arguments, but it takes effort. We win by knowing, understanding, repeating and advocating the right thing. It is already an uphill climb, so we better get our mountain boots on and start. That is the only way the right way will be the winning way.

11 thoughts on “You don’t want to win the argument, you want to get your way

  1. Well said, my friend. Term limits would be a step in the right direction. The founders never considered them because at first those in public office made terrific sacrifices to serve. Now they make big bucks and you can’t dislodge them. The naive notion the founders had that if the politicians weren’t doing their jobs they would be removed has been shown to be, well, naive. But term limits will never happen because those who would have to agree to them are the ones who benefit from their absence! So it goes….

      • Indeed, there’s a good deal f that going on. But if lobbying were prohibited as well….! The founders never envisioned what is going on in the Hallowed Halls of Congress, did they?

      • The founders would roll over in their graves. Lobbyist is a nice word for sales person. They are selling their idea and supporting data which may not resemble the truth.

  2. In Calif. at least, term limits is a miserable failure. Once someone attains an office, they then begin working on getting their next office, and are not really working on the jobs they were elected to do. Of course, if some of this went on in DC, perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad after all.

    Winning at all costs, once a sports metaphor, has now become a creed, an excuse to do nothing, to discuss nothing, to not compromise.

    Good thoughts

    • Thanks Barney. Terms limits can have its down side, but there has to be a happy medium. Shortening the election period and running on public money are solutions, as well. I heard Mitch McConnell say something yesterday about governing with an election coming up. Mitch, that is two years away and there is always an election coming up. To me, that confirms what we know; they govern off campaign rhetoric rather than facts, since elected officials are always in a campaign mindset.

    • Working on the next election is precisely what is going on now! Term limits would erase that distraction. The only problem I see is that politicians would be in office for such a brief period there would be much “reinventing the wheel.” But as things are now, they don’t d much of anything except plot ways to get reelected.

      • Agreed. They openly discussing not doing things that would harm election outcomes. That is a key reason nothing was done on immigration.

      • Perhaps I need to clarify what I said. In Calif. once elected to an office, they begin immediately working on the next office they are going to run for. You and BTG are correct in they are always running for the next election, just here, it is the next job. And I don’t know what the solution can be. Personally I think finance reform is a likely better fix, but our Supremes don’t see it that way.

        Thanks for the comments.

      • Finance reform would be a better route, but unlikely with the appeal of the status quo to the influencers. Plus, TV stations love the commercial revenue.

  3. Note to Readers: It is not lost on too many that the first missions of the new Congress have been to focus on the Keystone pipeline which helps the fossil fuel companies make money, but puts Americans and Canadians at greater risk, focus on the Dodd-Frank Act which was designed to make sure banks did not fail, do the risky things they did before, and protect the consumer, and to defund Homeland Security to the extent we would deport immigrants breaking up families. While many don’t like the President using executive action on immigration, most folks and the US Chamber of Commerce support what the actions did. To me, we should look at the bipartisan Senate bill passed almost twenty months ago. The only jobs bill in the mix is the 40,000 temporary jobs with the pipeline. At the same time, the President is passing regulations to bring down methane gas leakage 40% by 2025 which is a key contributor to climate change and dirtier air. To me, this shows where leaders’ bread is buttered and people should pay attention.

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