When it comes to debating politics, men often create the following faulty syllogism:  I’m a very intelligent man and I believe X.  This other guy believes Y.  Therefore this other guy is a complete moron.

I’ll come out of the closet and say it–I’m a moderately conservative Republican. This puts me in a distinct minority here in the San Francisco Bay Area.  And looking around the blogosphere and amongst the early adopters and tech leaders, a pretty distinct minority amongst my peers in the industry as well.

I rarely get political online.  However, it seems as though this election season, I’m the only one.  I was recently involved in a conversation on FriendFeed that stemmed from a quote from Deepak Chopra where he basically reframed and then debased many of the tennants that are held dear by a large percentage of the population.  My take was that he was committing a major gaffe by denigrating a significant portion of the electorate that the Democrats need to court in order to be able to win.  By positioning his ideological opposites as evil morons, there’s no way he’s going to win them over.  And that’s why the Democrats seem to be constantly shaking their heads and saying, “I can’t believe we lost to this guy.”

In the course of that brief (32 comments) conversation, Republicans were accused of “petty, small-minded parochialism”; “ignorance of world affairs”; “puritanical anti-sex bigotry”; “short-sighted selfishness”; and “disenchantment with modernity”.  I am none of those things.

Which brings me to this post from The Art of Manliness on How to Discuss Politics Like a Gentleman which I think should be mandatory reading for anyone thinking about jumping into the fray.  It seems to me that our level of discourse has hit bottom yet again.  It’s a lot of “You’re an idiot who hates gays and black people and poor people and children,” vs. “You’re a hippie who wants to raise my taxes and give hugs to terrorists and hates God.”

    In reality, I think we all want the same things.  We all want peace rather than war.  We all want to be safe from threats coming from outside our borders.  We all want prosperity for ourselves and our neighbors.  We all want people to have access to healthcare when they need it.  We all want a strong economy that creates good jobs.  We all want to be able to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves.  We all want better opportunities for our children.

    Where we disagree is on the best way to do these things.  And these are the topics for debate.  When we begin the debate by assuming that the other side is either evil or stupid, we begin with a false assumption.  When you begin with a false assumption, there can be no resolution either way because your premise is flawed.  I think it’s time we stepped back, gave each other some credit for being intelligent, reasoned, hard working and well intended people and found where we’ve got common ground.

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