Words are cheap

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.

10 thoughts on “Words are cheap

  1. Good point. You can usually detect the BS by asking yourself if the appeal is to facts and reason or to emotions that run high. Emotional appeals are more effective because we don’t stop to think about what’s happening. Most political slogans are based on emotional appeal — such as fear and the urge we all have to be accepted by others. We can check the facts online as I recall. Always a good idea,

    • Fear sells. Remember how Ebola risk in the US was used, when it turned out that fear of vaccines caused far more measles cases, a disease that was eradicated for the most part.

  2. Note to Readers: on the subject of making statements without back-up, in the 2012 presidential campaign, Newt Gingrich promised to get gas below $2 a gallon and Mitt Romney promised to get unemployment beneath 6% by 2016, neither saying how they would do it. Gas is now below $2 and unemployment is at 5.3%, so I expect the President will be getting a congratulations from each.

  3. In a republic this size, with it’s pretense of a democracy, it’s hard to find leaders who appreciate, much less practice, the old civic virtue of disinterestedness. Founded on a form of governance best suited to a city/state it amazing that we’ve stumbled along, this long, from sea to shinning sea.

    • Doug, thanks for your comments. We do indeed stumble along. I was watching Shields and Brooks on PBS Newshour a month ago and they noted since Congress has ceased to function, where laws are repaired when needed, we must now rely on the Supreme Court for that role. Then, Congress complains that SCOTUS is doing their job which they fail to do. Thanks again, BTG

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