Name calling doesn’t help win arguments

My local newsaper published my recent letter to the editor. They also placed it following another letter who used name-calling. If you concur, please feel free to use the following letter, making changes to meet your style and circumstances.

“As an independent voter, I find the use of labels and name-calling as shortcuts for people who do not have a good argument. When I see or hear terms like “conservative” or “liberal,” used like weapons, I tend to discount the message. When I see “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” I see someone trying to say you are crazy to feel the President is being untruthful or unwise with a particular path. When I see the terms “Nazism” or “Apartheid” used to define disagreement with a policy, they better be talking about heinous acts. Facts matter. Let’s civilly discuss the facts to resolve matters. Governance is hard enough, but even more so when people use over-simplified or inappropriate shortcuts.”

Sadly, one of the most prolific name callers happens to be the current US President. What does that say about our country, and what message does that send to our children?

If someone name calls or labels, ask a few questions

Since our electorate in the US is largely uninformed about issues of import, politicians and pundits can get away with the use of derogatory names or labels to diminish the veracity of the others’ argument. For example, the Affordable Care Act has been called akin to Nazism, Apartheid and slavery by current Presidential candidates. This imperfect law is not only working pretty well, but is saving lives, something that none of these names could be accused of.

So, when you hear someone calling an opposing argument or someone’s idea with a negative name or label, do yourself and country a favor and pause. Then, ask that person or yourself, why would he or she say that? Why is the Affordable Care Act akin to slavery? Or, do you really believe that to be true or are you saying that to influence an uninformed public? To be frank, I find name callers or labelers to be short on argument, which is why they use the deception of the label.

In Florida and Wisconsin, this is taken to an extreme, when Governors Rick Scott and Scott Walker (yes, that one running first in Iowa) prohibit the use of the words climate change and global warming by state officials. Really? So, one of the greatest threats facing our planet should not be mentioned by state officials. So, the fact that Miami’s Dade and surrounding three counties are spending $200 million to keep sea water from coming up through street drains and the fact the Everglades is being encroached upon by sea water, does not give you the least bit concern? To be brutally frank, if I was surrounded by sea on three sides as Florida is, I would take climate change with much greater seriousness of purpose than its governor. Wisconsin should not let its governor off the hook on this issue either.

I am an Independent voter, who has been a Republican and a Democrat. I would call myself a fiscally conservative, socially progressive person. I want our government to make sure people are given a fair chance, but I want the government to spend the money wisely. I also believe there is an economic benefit to taking care of the environment, a position that the GOP used to hold more true, until they decided to be influenced more by the fossil fuel industry than ever before.

I mention this as my arguments are often discounted by conservatives, as I am labeled as  just a closet Democrat or as a tree hugger, so my opinions matter less to them. I usually respond that it appears I am a Democrat as the Republicans are on the wrong side of many more issues – climate change, poverty, health care, LGBT, immigration and guns, e.g. So, when I try to use fact based opinions, it may seem more one-sided. Mind you, the Democrats are not perfect, but they seem to talk about issues that are meaningful than contrived ones that don’t really matter much or are blown out of proportion. Yet, we need both parties talking about real issues and possible solutions.

So, my advice is to ask questions of politicians. Don’t let them shortchange the argument with names or labels meant to demonize. When I hear labels they are an automatic red-flag to dig deeper. Please dig with me as we all need to be truth seekers, especially since too many politicians have sold that right to the highest bidder and have an aversion to speaking the truth.