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wundayatta's avatar

If we had to solve political problems, how would we talk differently?

Asked by wundayatta (58349 points ) May 8th, 2012

As political discussions go, fluther doesn’t allow things to get personal, and that takes a lot of heat out of the conversations. Even so, I know that I will often say things very much more strongly just for rhetorical effect. I think a strong statement is more likely to get people to agree.

However, if I were trying to solve a problem, say as a politician or as a mediator between various business organizations, I would speak much more moderately. I would lose a lot of the rhetoric. I would spend more time trying to understand my opponents.

I don’t think Congress is any different. I think that a lot of people don’t care about solving problems. They are the ones with all the vehement rhetoric. The ones who are really trying to work, I think, take a much quieter stance.

I don’t know if it works, but what’s your perception on your behavior here. Do you mouth off? Do you pull your punches? If you had responsibility for actually solving problems, how would that affect your public stance on the issues?

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9 Answers

tranquilsea's avatar

I’d make a terrible politician as I deal with problems the same way no matter where I am. I listen to people, research the problem, talk to people in the know and then come to a conclusion. Then I talk the people around me into the same conclusion while inviting them to do their own research.

I don’t do rhetoric.

ETpro's avatar

Given what is driving the partisan divide in the USA at the national, state and local levels today, I don’t think how you talk about solutions has any effect on compromise. We have one party that is constantly purging members from its own ranks simply because at one time or another, they were willing to compromise. Any compromise is cause for a primary challenge from those more extreme than the conciliator. Senator Richard Lugar just went down in flames today, unseated by a far-right Tea Party “conservative”.

wundayatta's avatar

Here’s part of the answer heard on NPR this morning. It seems that cognitive dissonance makes us desire to change our views in order to make our candidate be right, so we don’t have to disagree with them.

For example, in 2008, Republicans were saying the President had no control over gasoline prices. In 2012, they are saying the opposite. Why? Their guy was in power then, and isn’t now.

Democrats do the same thing. It seems that the principle of loyalty to a person is more important than the principle of loyalty to the facts.

Jaxk's avatar

@wundayatta

Interesting take on the issue. It seems that most pundits are trying to make all this a partisan divide. I don’t discount that some of may be but when we make the sweeping generalities, we need to examine the facts to see if there are any details missing. For instance, I have no idea when these polls were taken. Maybe it makes no difference but may be it does. When oil prices were rising under Bush and everyone was panicking, Bush rescinded the executive order on off-shore drilling. Within two weeks the price of oil dropped by $20/barrel. Was that a reaction or pure coincidence? Could some people have seen that and changed thier minds? All good topics of speculation.

If i believed that the price of oil could not be affected by the president, I might have changed my mind when confronted with the drop in oil as a result of presidential action. Hell, I would argue that anyone that didn’t change their mind was ignoring the facts. Truth be told, I can’t understand how anyone could believe the president has no impact on gas prices either before or after the fact.

Jaxk's avatar

To answer the original question, I don’t enter any negotiations on a confrontational basis. You don’t start the conversation by calling the other guy names. it doesn’t work. The first thing you need to do is determine what you want to accomplish, not how you want to accomplish it. If you start with how you want to do it, there’s nothing to negotiate. The conversation can become very heated and you may want to be very emphatic about your views but you also need to keep the original goal in mind. There are many ways to solve a problem. You need to keep the problem in mind instead of focusing on you particular solution.

wundayatta's avatar

Gas prices go up and gas prices go down. They are going down now. I don’t know why. I don’t know why they went up in the last few months, because it seems like demand has been down. Maybe there’s a question here dealing with it.

I agree about keeping the problem in mind and not being wedded to a particular solution. But I think that is hard to do. I wonder if there are ways to encourage people to do that. What I have been trained in is that if people have a say in the definition of the problem, and then in the definition of the solution, you will get much better buy-in on carrying out the solution. From what I can see, that is much easier said than done.

In community politics, I see people make huge efforts to engage the community in decision-making, but when they come out with a proposal, everyone claims no one consulted them. I think it’s impossible to draw people in. Some people only want to complain and can’t be bothered to get involved in problem identification.

Jaxk's avatar

@wundayatta

I’d love to argue the gas prices but that would be way off topic. My only point in that example was to show that opinions change and not just for political reasons.

“everyone claims no one consulted them”. That is a human nature thing. I always found it interesting that when people don’t get thier way, it’s because no one would listen them. Usually that not the case. They listened, they just didn’t buy into your solution.

wundayatta's avatar

And we hardly need argue gas prices. I bet we could each take the other’s position and no one would think we weren’t doing a good job. Well, almost.

Jaxk's avatar

Sounds like a debate club exercise.

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