From Debate to Dialogue

In political debate, there is a tendency for one candidate to criticize the ideas of the opponent, if not the opponent her- or himself. What if we shifted from “no, because” debates to “yes, and” dialogue? At best, we could have some of the most passionate and committed people collaboratively creating innovative solutions. At worst, the candidate with the guts to try this method will totally throw off the opponent while exhibiting desirable characteristics desperately sought in our political leadership. Divisive political debate can transform into generative community dialogue. What is more important, winning an election or succeeding as a nation?

Political Civility

While it may have once seemed impossible, the content and context of political rhetoric is becoming more and more pathological. I’m not sure if candidates and their staff grossly underestimate the intelligence of the American people or if their strategies are merely a reflection of their own capacity for communication. Either way, I have little confidence in any political leader who puts down another human being, especially a fellow American. Political candidates engage in negative reciprocal exchange that makes a mockery of our democracy.

I would love to see candidates focus, or shift a significant majority of their focus, onto their own values, attributes, accomplishments, and vision rather than disparaging the opposition. That constitutes bullying, and we expect better from young children.

Comparative analysis can helpful for rational, and even emotional, decision making. To this end, candidates can simply state: This is what I want to do (strategy). This is why (purpose). This is the expected outcome (vision). In contrast, candidate B wants to do this. This is what I see as the possible outcome of that plan. Such a synopsis would result in less clutter, more complete and concrete information, and a more compassionate political climate.