Let’s Fix America: Spotting The Lies Part 2
Previously we discussed how an examination of the details of an issue can reveal if an elected official or political surrogate is being truthful about it. Yet, one can also evaluate how a person makes their argument to determine whether or not he or she is being entirely truthful about something. This is by no means an exact science, sometimes people are just looking up and to the left, but instead a set of guidelines from which you can make your own judgments.
How Eager Are They To “Have The Debate?”
This is one of the latest rhetorical trends in politics that simultaneously makes the speaker seem willing to compromise while completely disregarding the other person’s position.
For example, the debate over climate change has shifted considerably as Americans realize that science is far more settled on the issue than they’ve been told. So big business Republicans pivoted their arguments from saying the science is divided to saying they “aren’t scientists,” but “would love to have that debate.”
It seems like the person is willing to discuss the issue, but in fact it’s a way to dodge it and also imply that he or she won’t be discussing the issue further.
They Attack The Person And Not The Issue
This bit of rhetorical business could be indicative of a person with a weak argument or simply the caliber of “pundit” they are, but either way what they say should be discounted. At some point in the exchange the speaker will take a phrase their opponent says and try to paint them as holding an unfavorable position.
For example if a person were to take the position that bombing ISIL will only create more terrorists, the speaker would accuse them of wanting the terrorists to blow up New York. A sole exception for this rule is when the discussion involves a political actor – such as Al Sharpton or Donald Trump – who routinely makes the issue about him- or herself. In such cases, criticizing the person is fair treatment of the issue.
Facts Aren’t The Only Part Of Truth
In some rare cases, the facts of an issue aren’t in dispute, but are subject to someone’s interpretation. For example, black Americans are incarcerated six times more than white Americans. This fact is not in dispute, but what does it mean?
Some may point to this fact to show that the justice system in America is still crippled by institutional racism, while a person on the other side would say this proves that black Americans break the law at much higher rate than whites.
In these cases, the “lie” isn’t always as obvious, which requires further research. But who can be trusted? We’ll examine that in the next installment of “Let’s Fix America.”