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Debate vs. Argument

My last full* year of school in Fairbanks, Alaska was at Monroe High School. Although it was called a "high school" the majority of the classes were designed to prepare the graduates for college. The classes we attended averaged anywhere from 1 year to 4 years ahead of what was taught in the public school system.

From the middle of my Sophomore year through my Senior year at Monroe High School I participated in the Debate Club. Before that I was a member of the school choir. Partway though the first quarter of my Sophomore year my voice started changing and I couldn't hold the notes. After hitting high C above C too many times I quit choir. Fortunately for me, Sister Louis managed to talk me into joining the Debate Club. She was our teacher and coach and Sister Louis set very high standards for us.

She emphasized the use of proven facts and workable logic as the base on which we fashioned our arguments and counter arguments in a debate. The only emotion we were allowed to use was the expression of a firm belief in the facts and our interpretation of them. Neither anger nor superciliousness was allowed.

We could quote statements that recognized "experts" made, but our case had to be based on more than "he said, she said" verbiage. The more we could make our case using proven facts the easier it was for us to win. My long time debate partner and best friend in high school, Bob Kies and I spent many long hours delving into various sources of information. The more proven data we could find to substantiate our case the easier it became to win. (The internet was not available then, but the University of Alaska library, the Fairbanks Public Library and the school library provided all of the information and statistics we needed.)

We also learned to use our voices and body language in order to emphasize our belief in the strength and correctness of our argument. But the debate judges never decided the winning team solely based on those things. The more our presentations were constructed around proven facts and sound logic the better. In our Senior year Bob and I took part in over 80 debates and we won every one of them.

Today we have very important political decisions being made based more on emotional context and personal greed than on provable facts. It is easier to influence people using emotion than it is using facts. I emphasize the use of provable facts. It is far too easy to take things out of context and spin them around to "prove" something. I know. Bob and I sometimes used that technique! But Sister Louis always reproached us for it.

Our elected representatives and the main stream media are more and more using emotional arguments in order to convince you and I of the correctness of their positions. The more they can stir an emotional response in us, the easier it is for them to win us over to their side.

My counter argument (presented in "debate style") is this: Give me the facts about how much your plan is going to cost me, the taxpayer. Give me the truth about the impact your program is going to have on my life and the safety of my family and possessions. Mr. or Mrs. Legislator or Senator, etc., you will not win me over with falsehoods, emotional arguments, threats or promises you can't deliver. If you use those tactics, I will do every thing in my power to see that you are never elected to represent me again. Every taxpaying voter, regardless of political affiliation should do the same.

P.S. The voting population of this nation really is smarter than most politicians think we are. So, you and I need to get off our duffs and vote the conniving lying politicians out of office and replace them with someone we can trust. And we need to keep on doing that until we've cleaned house... all 3 of them – the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House.

*I also had a semester and a half at the University of Alaska before dropping out and enlisting in the U.S. Navy. I wanted a real life education rather than indoctrination.


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