Saturday, May 25, 2013

Making Your Point Nastily May or May Not Be Effective, but...

My last post was entitled, in part, "Republicans Want the Poor to Die."

I've just read an interesting article describing tools for critical thinking ascribed to Daniel Dennett, several of which caused me to reflect on why I make assertions that, though I believe they're true, are often conveyed in a hostile or shocking way. Accusing Republicans of wanting poor people to die might be a bit provocative, I admit.

But there is a reason I've started talking about knowing people by their deeds rather than their rhetoric. It's for two reasons: one, words are often masks to hide motivation or intention, while deeds are real, observable events. It's hard to obscure the motivation for a deed. Rhetoric is almost designed for dissembling.

So, when Republicans say, in response to Obamacare that "We can't keep piling up deficit upon deficit as far as the eye can see," or "Trying to offer healthcare to every Tom, Dick, and Harry may be laudable, but if it's not sustainable, then it's a fool's errand," it's best to look beyond the rhetoric to the deed that the rhetoric is meant to inspire.

In the case of denying Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, whether simply to oppose anything Obama offers or because of some sincerely held belief that it's a budget buster, the best way to judge it is to understand its ramifications. If we conclude that doing so will deny the very poor from receiving any benefit from Obamacare -- and that this loss of potential medical services will result in bad health outcomes -- then the result is more poor people will die.

So it follows that the Republican position, as already forming in the several red states that oppose the Medicaid expansion, is that they prefer poor people die rather than work with the federal government to find ways of preventing these deaths.

In other words, I feel my bluntness is upheld, despite violating Dennett's second law, "Respect your opponent." Rather, my argument is stronger because I get to the heart of my opponent's motivation. You are what you do, not what you say. Republicans say they want to save money. What they do kills people.

Let's use that filter when we listen to what they say and what actually happens when what they say takes the form of action.

Also, I can sound nasty because I hate feeling insincere. So, I might not win a public debate, but at least you know where I'm coming from. It helps to be right, but then again that doesn't always win friends or arguments. So, I'll keep working on it. But that won't stop me from being direct in making my policy positions clear or from being direct about the real-world ramifications of the other side's policy preferences.

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