One reason I can’t do meaningful political debate is because I think the terms everyone uses are confused to the point of total obfuscation.

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  1. Words have indeed been convoluted and terms either have drifted from their original meaning or those who hold to certain terms have themselves drifted from their adopted moniker’s meaning. It also doesn’t help when there are not two or more sides of an issue open for debate, but merely divisions within an accepted framework that can be discussed.

  2. Political debate is useless and mentally stultifying.

    Everyone simply wants to win and no one cares about the reality of the situation. It’s worse than religion.

    Mostly. I find usefulness in watching politicians debate because it allows me to judge their character by way of the sleazy debate tactics they use while trying to win.

    1. I’m not sure there is a “reality of the situation” to be concerned with, when most of the things that are debated are mental or social constructs to begin with.

      Definitely with you on the debate tactics angle… as someone who has never been able to accept that the ends justify the means, I find civility and intellectual honesty (or the lack thereof) far more interesting than the actual topics of debate.

      1. The “reality of the situation” is that the truth almost always lies somewhere in between the two people engaged in the debate. All participants are aware of that on some level, but in order to “win” they feel the need to twist the truth closer to an extreme.

  3. Awww…

    We’ve had some quite enlightening and meaningful political debates–not without their tense moments, of course–despite the fucked up terminology that exists.

    I do agree with you, however, 100% about the problem of terminology. The fact that “liberal” means left-wing here in the States, but is, for example, the designation for conservatives in Australia–and is part of the mostly pro-business/libertarian-esque “liberal democratic party” in Germany just goes to show how screwy terms can get.. (conservative is not quite as fucked.. but also has its own major issues..)

    In any case, I would say that any MEANINGFUL debate is always going to require work–and to require some agreements about terminology in advance (or shortly after onset of debate) if there is going to be anything constructive coming out of it.

    Meaning requires work… no way of getting around it..

    1. Re: Awww…

      I posted that after someone I follow on Twitter said something to the effect of conservatives being concerned with the individual and liberals being concerned with the state as a whole (and how they are both partly right). And it just hit me what a semantically null statement it was and how impossible a reply would be. A few of the thoughts that ran through my head:

      1. That’s not what the word “conservative” denotes; in that sense it has nothing to do with the individual vs. the state, it just has to do with wanting to preserve the status quo.

      2. OK, “conservative” has something of an individualist connotation here and now, but conservatives in this country aren’t (really) concerned with the individual and haven’t been for a long time.

      3. The word “liberal” has nothing to do with desiring the health of the state.

      4. As you mentioned, liberal means completely different and opposing things depending on where and when you’re looking at.

      5. Even a liberal in the modern American sense would probably dispute being concerned primarily with the health of the state – he/she is probably more concerned with the well-being of the majority of the people. People/state was another concept that the poster seemed to be confusing.

      Working my way through all those layers I was just struck by how impossible it is to communicate about these topics. I couldn’t have even begun to enter a dialogue without spending a few paragraphs defining terms. What a pain in the ass.

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