Since politicking is endless, so becomes campaign rhetoric. Rhetoric is a fancy word for bullshit. So, we should always remember this when listening to politicians.
Words are cheap and when campaigning become even cheaper. Politicians can use more words to say absolutely nothing, not at all unlike the famous governor played by Charles Durning in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”
Politicians are also renowned for making statements of goals masked as policy statements. One politician says he will make US GDP grow by 4% per annum. OK, how are you going to do this when almost all economists do not see that happening? And, one famous candidate says he has a secret to ending conflict in the Middle East, but you have to elect him to find out. He should not be allowed to get away with such a childish comment.
So, here are a few rules of thumb beyond the skepticism noted above.
– when a politician criticizes some action, ask what would they do differently.
– when a politician labels someone or something with a demonic label (Nazism, Apartheid, slavery, eg), then his or her argument must be poor.
– when someone tells that everyone else is incompetent or a loser, that is similar to the labeling above.
– people should pay attention to what folks have done as that is a better indication of what they will do (it is hard to be egalitarian when your history is one of imperialism).
Finally, to make these things happen, we must pay attention to reputable news sources. We must look at reputable survey sources and reports. Do not discount reading editorialists that you may disagree with, as it helps with fair debate.
Democracy requires an informed electorate. Our problem is we have not lived up to our end and we have been and are being taken advantage of. Words are cheap if we use them poorly.