1. The Problem of Statistics- If I am going to try and convince people to change their minds I cannot do it with statistics that have come from obviously conservative or libertarian sources. If I did that, then they would, perhaps correctly, claim that my sources are biased and not to be trusted. (One of them even, laughably, suggested that the Daily Kos is a reasonable source.)
Since using sources from places on the right is out in these debates, I have spent time looking for sources from the left or from allegedly unbiased sources.
Getting a specific statistic from a government website is a pain. (And therefore, I think, another reason to question its ability to do anything.) Even if I find the statistics from somewhere like the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are questions about its accuracy.
If you want to know the official unemployment number, you'll get a number but it can be adjusted and confused with the number you are actually looking for. Our official unemployment number counts only the people, I think, who are actively looking for work and receiving unemployment checks. It does not count people who are underemployed or those who have given up looking for work. So a more accurate number may be something like the number of employed per capita.
Another problem with government statistics is that they are not really to be trusted. Did you know that much federal spending is "off budget"? How is someone supposed to research that?
A source like the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is non partisan, but if it gets bad numbers in then it will put bad numbers out. It was often talked about on the right how the CBO score for the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) was balanced spending wise, only because the score was for the next ten years and included ten years of taxes and only four years of spending. If we looked at those CBO number for ten years of both taxes and spending it would no longer be balanced.
So researching statistics is a pain, but I hope to have at least sourced my statistics well.
2. The Definition of Words- I, and republicans, have been called many names in my comment debating. One thing about that I find troubling is how often the person calling the names and my opinion of the definition of those names disagree.
Many on the left call those on the right "fascists."
Dictionary.com: "a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism."
The Free Dictionary: "A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism."
Merriam Webster: "a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition"
I would argue that it is not the best term to describe either party. But let's compare:
-Neither party has a dictator, neither side suppresses through terror (fear and misinformation though).
-The democrats are more in favor of the politically correct (censorship). +1 for democrats
-The republicans are more nationalistic. +1 for republicans
-I would argue that the democrats are more racist (minorities cannot compete without special rules and help, they nominated an inexperienced half-black for president rather than a more experienced white, etc) but in the interests of thinking the best of my opponents, I'll call it a draw.
-The democrats more favor centralized authority (Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, department of education, etc) +1 for democrats
-The republicans more favor national social restrictions. +1 for republicans
-The democrats favor putting race (and gender) over the individual (quotas for minorities, and why aren't there more women in sports, etc) +1 for democrats
I think that fascism suits the democrats better than the republicans by 3 to 2, and if we include the fact that fascist dictators have banned private gun ownership the margin moves to 4 to 2 in favor of democrats being more fascist.
And yet next Tuesday when I argue against minimum wages, or whatever, that's one of the names that I will be called.
With some other words we may have more of a debate with their definition. What do you call an unborn person? You call it a "fetus" if you are pro-death. You call it a "baby" if you are anti-choice.
Even the word "liberal" once meant something totally different than what today's members of the left have made it to be.
There are other words that I, and the republicans, will be called and I often include the definitions of those words in my replies.
3. The Knowledge of the Other Person- I've pointed out before, that I often mistakenly think that I know what my opponents opinions are on many issues based on one opinion on one issue.
I really like the idea of intellectual consistency. I think that my opinion on every issue makes sense when you compare them. ("More freedom, less government; that's my answer. What's your question?"-Tim Nerenz)
I've been accused of changing the point, perhaps I do. Often my opponent's point seems to be that "republican's are mean and bad". (Although if you tell them that that is what their point is they disagree.)
I shall have to try and only argue the points of the subjects that my opponents want to debate.
One commenter named "TheAnarchist" commented in support of some big government law. I told him that that didn't make any sense. And he(?) said that not all anarchists are the same. That's true, but what kind of anarchist is in favor of any form of government?
So I'll be commenting some more on Tuesday, and replying and posting on Wednesday, with these 3 points in mind.
BTW, I looked at commenting at The Atlantic Monthly's website, but they were already so full of name calling I thought that I'd wait a bit before trying there. (I want to show that "rational lefties" are not.) And I tried to comment at Salon.com but I had issues with signing in. Maybe I'll try the "fair and reasonable" Daily Kos, lol.