Thursday, February 12, 2015

 

Political Mayhem Thursday: The State of Debate

Yesterday's debate with the Hon. Rich Sullivan at Penn Law was really wonderful-- even without the event, it would have been great to see Rich, Judge Jan DuBois and Christian Latham (CTL) all at the same time.  And as a special bonus, my law school (and Philly-clerking-year) roommate and great lawyer Mike Schwartz came, too!

This project works in part because Judge Sullivan and I have always learned from one another in our disagreements.  That is something I learned from Judge DuBois as his clerk-- one of several lessons he taught me which have made all the difference.  Another-- which was at the heart of this event-- was to stay in touch and work with the people you admire in your life.

Debate as a worthwhile discussion has fallen away in this country.  There are at least two key factors.  One is the media's decline into featuring people yelling at each other in place of actual analysis.  They sell conflict, for its own sake.  A second factor is our political culture, which is built largely on describing opponents as bad people, rather than describing distinctions between policy points.  Both sides are to blame for both of these trends.

Am I wrong?  Where does good worthwhile debate still occur?


Comments:
Mark … I fully agree with you. The ad hominem has become the default. You do a great job of modeling a different, far more engaging, far more educative manner of grappling with difficult issues. Thanks for that Mark.
 
Random List. Good (wholesome, constructive, productive, empowering) debate very often occurs on the Razor. Also on C-SPAN at times (as a window into lots of venues). It occurs up and down my hall at the local community college atop the escarpment. It was fairly common in a house on Chateau back in the day. I know it happens from time to time via email. And every once in a while (not nearly as much as it should) it happens on the floor of the United States Senate. And I bet there are lots of other places as well.
 
Where does good worthwhile debate still occur? …at NIH and the Razor, of course.
 
We have an awful lot of difference of opinion and not much debate based on agreed upon facts. Facts are not required currently in much of our public and private discourse. Opinions repeated enough become the facts that begin discussions today. Too often opinions are drowning out thoughtful debate.

Places to hear informed debate are in the sciences, where facts are required, and at breakfast with a good newspaper.
 
Ginsburg and Scalia.
 
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