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Some Thoughts on Partisan Argument Patterns


Azarkon

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I've read my share of partisan bickering online, and as of late I've began to see patterns in the way self-proclaimed Republicans argue with self-proclaimed liberals/Democrats. To be sure, part of this has to do with the way these arguments usually begin - that is, with a liberal attack on policy and a Republican response. Nevertheless, if language is a gauge for attitude and psychology, forums may constitute an accurate measure of the personalities that attend to each party.

 

With no further ado:

 

The standard Republican argument tends to go like this: <sarcastic remark against liberals> <facts> <witty liberal bashing> <facts> <more witty liberal bashing> <some chest thumping> <sarcastic liberal bashing> <liberal idealism bashing with an emphasis on comparison with Republican pragmatism> <finish with a statement of confidence>

 

The standard Democrat argument tends to be more like this: <facts> <Bush hate> <opinions> <more Bush hate> <exasperation at the other side's thickness> <adopts an explanatory/didactic tone> <call up liberal arts sources> <appeal to pathos> <finish either with doomsaying or idealistic generalizations>

 

Obviously, the core elements are more important than their order, but it does lead to some interesting observations. For one, the Republican claim of liberal softies does not seem unjustified if we compare the posting styles of the two groups. On the other hand, Republican posters tend to rely on insults to appear "tough," and seldom miss the opportunity to belittle their opponents' intelligence (contrary to their claim that Democrats are the real mudslingers).

 

Of course, these are only my observations based on the perusal of partisan bickering across different forums. Yours might differ - and I'd like to hear the difference, if you think my observations are flawed.

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I dunno. I usually don't resort to sarcastic wit and I'm one of the most conservative people in this forum. Oh, I have fun from time to time, but very rarely do I actually resort to flame.

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I prefer not to take on a certain party line. I identify myself not as a conservative or a liberal. As each individual issue is broached, I form my own opinion. That being said, I also am part of a teachers union, and that tends to be a major constituent of the Democratic party.

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I can attest to the fact that Hurlshot doesn't always hold to any talking points. Actually, a lot of folks here are like that. I've never really thought about how the debating really works, but there are some really ugly liberals out there, man. I mean, howl at the moon crazy sorts of fellows.

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I can attest to the fact that Hurlshot doesn't always hold to any talking points.  Actually, a lot of folks here are like that.  I've never really thought about how the debating really works, but there are some really ugly liberals out there, man.  I mean, howl at the moon crazy sorts of fellows.

Ugliness has no constituency. :cat:

OBSCVRVM PER OBSCVRIVS ET IGNOTVM PER IGNOTIVS

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I think anarchism is a very nice idea that has been the target of an even bigger blacksmear than communism... and the occasional fun Monthy Python sketch :)"

 

 

WOMAN: King of the who?

ARTHUR: The Britons.

WOMAN: Who are the Britons?

ARTHUR: Well, we all are. we're all Britons and I am your king.

WOMAN: I didn't know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous

collective.

DENNIS: You're fooling yourself. We're living in a dictatorship.

A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes--

WOMAN: Oh there you go, bringing class into it again.

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Important: as the following sentence contains many naughty words I warn you not to read it under any circumstances; botty, knickers, wee, erogenous zone, psychiatrist, clitoris, stockings, bosom, poetry reading, dentist, fellatio and the department of agriculture.

 

"I suppose outright stupidity and complete lack of taste could also be considered points of view. "

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<3<3 Holy Grail

 

And being British, watching American politics unfold around election time always amuses. Sure we get mudslinging here, but it's very much 'low key' compared to what seems to happen in America. Honestly, I can't really remember the last time a politition or election campain directly called another politian incompitant or took stabs at their past life. Sure, it's a factor (leader of the third biggest party was mutinied against because it turned out he was still an alcoholic, just recently) but you never had any leaders of the opposition saying 'don't vote for this man, he used to be an alcoholic' which is (this is the impression I have gained anyway) what I would guess would happen if the same situation came up in one of the major American parties.

 

confirm/deny?

 

(p.s. this isn't me highhorsing, British politics cirtainly have their own problems, i'm just curious about national divides and how they 'really are' as compared to how they can be portraied by forign media)

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You're right, the policies and actions as government are criticised.Then again that in itself is crap if the critic cannot come up with their own solution to a problem. I cite that as one of the reasons the Tories have been on the decline.

 

I also cite that as a characteristic of the quintessential "liberal" caricature. :thumbsup:

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(snip) ... On the other hand, Republican posters tend to rely on insults to appear "tough," and seldom miss the opportunity to belittle their opponents' intelligence (contrary to their claim that Democrats are the real mudslingers). 

 

Of course, these are only my observations based on the perusal of partisan bickering across different forums.  Yours might differ - and I'd like to hear the difference, if you think my observations are flawed.

 

I believe that what is far more telling about how a party thinks and argues, is how they express themselves without fear of opposition. There are two directly opposing popular web forums expressly for each party, and regularly populated by party extremists. For the democrats, they have democraticunderground.com, and for the republicans, they have freerepublic.com.

 

DU is down right now for maintenance, so I can't link to examples directly. But I will say that typical posts from that forum express some of the worst sentiments mankind can have, and they are not only often not censored by moderators, but also encouraged by other forum members. For example, many liberals hope that American soldiers are killed in Iraq en masse:

 

"I realize that not every GI Joe was 100peeercent behind Prseeedent Booosh going into this war; but I do know that that is what an overwhelming number of them and their famlies screamed in the face of protesters who were trying to protect these kids. Well, there is more than one way to be "dead" for your country. They are not only not accompishing squat in Iraq, they are doing crap nothing for the safety, defense of the US of A over there directly. But "indirectly" they are doing a lot.

 

The only way to get rid of this slime bag WASP-Mafia, oil barron ridden cartel of a government, this assault on Americans and anything one could laughingly call "a democracy", relies heavily on what a sh*t hole Iraq turns into. They need to die so that we can be free. Soldiers usually did that directly--i.e., fight those invading and harming a country. This time they need to die in defense of a lie from a lying adminstration to show these ignorant, dumb Americans that Bush is incompetent. They need to die so that Americans get rid of this deadly scum. It is obscene, Barbie Bush, how other sons (of much nobler blood) have to die to save us from your Rosemary's Baby spawn and his ungodly cohorts."

 

(From here..)

 

And that quote is from three years ago. A multitude of other examples that are equally virulent are produced weekly, if not daily on that forum. If it was just three or four forum trolls, it really wouldn't be an issue and certainly wouldn't characterize how a lot of democrats think, but such disgusting sentiments are often routinely expressed by a very sizeable population of that forum.

 

Meanwhile, one would be hard pressed to find that sort of trash on freerepublic.com. And when it does pop up, it is deleted, and suddenly a liberal blogger proudly announces that he or she has been banned from Free Republic. Coincidence, I think not.

 

Another trend that I've noticed are the vicious personal attacks that liberals make. Off the top of my head, Michelle Malkin, a conservative pundit, has a piece on her blog that is absolutely disgusting. And it is also mundane in comparison to the morbid cheering many of the liberals on DU engaged in during Ariel Sharon's stroke, or when Laura Ingraham announced she had breast cancer. Elizabeth Edwards, former democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards' wife, who regularly posts at DU, actually had to condemn the people who were cheering Ingraham's illness, as Edwards had her own bout with breast cancer and knew that such an illness was no joke. Meanwhile, if one googles the time period when former President Clinton had his stroke, conservative commentators and even forum members were doing nothing but wishing him good health and a quick recovery.

 

So, I take issue with the idea that conservatives are the real mudslingers. I've generally seen ad hominem attacks used by conservatives when they are too young to be able to intelligently argue their point, or when they feel ganged up on. Meanwhile, liberals seem to have a fair plethora of things to label me if I start winning an argument, such as "dittohead" or "chicken hawk" or "imperialistic zionist" or "fascist." My favorite personal attack was when a moderator censored one of my posts on a Star Trek forum regarding social security forum, and replaced my seven paragraphs with "FASCISTS HAVE NO RIGHT TO TALK!" Ironic.

 

If I had to wager a supposition, I'd say that you spend a majority of your time on forums that lean left, and that's probably skewered up your observations.

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I don't know about mudslinging, but given the general lighter, more pacifistic colours of the Liberal it can hardly be surprising if Rightwingers are more brash and aggressive.

 

I must confess as before that while the denizens here consider me a foaming fascist I also correspond on boards where I am considered a gutless liberal! :ermm: I am hoping this is because I am following teh advice of Kipling's 'If', rather than being a cretin.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

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Which, ultimately, is probably the best way to be.

 

Additionally, I wonder how much of the above can be do with 'who's winning'. Or indeed how much of it could be attributed to the notion that democrats think they are right, and republicans *know* they are right. If that makes sense.

 

I'm not even american, and so basiclally ignorant on this stuff, but if an easy insight into another culture is available, I don't mind stiring to dig it up.

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I don't know about mudslinging, but given the general lighter, more pacifistic colours of the Liberal it can hardly be surprising if Rightwingers are more brash and aggressive.

 

I must confess as before that while the denizens here consider me a foaming fascist I also correspond on boards where I am considered a gutless liberal!  ;) I am hoping this is because I am following teh advice of Kipling's 'If', rather than being a cretin.

 

"Lighter" and "more pacifistic" are hardly terms I'd use to characterize liberals. I really can't remember the last time a fire bomb was thrown, a beheading was reinacted, or the extermination/"relocation" of a race was called for during a Republican rally. Democratic rallies, however? Eh, that stuff happened a couple weeks ago in SanFran.

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HAH! As Gromnir would say. Good fun!

 

I can honestly say I've been threatened more often by angry left-wingers than by angry right-wingers. Although If I wanted to be mendacious I'd say that perhaps right-wingers simply don't give you the warning! :) I've also heard a pacifist say that the human race needs to be 20% of its current size, and refusing to specify how this might be organised. :thumbsup:

 

But I think you'd be going quite far to typify Republicans as being sweetness and Light. It's been a few years since I visited the States, but I don't think things can have shifted so far. :( Unilateral withdrawal from all international treaties, unrestricted use of the armed forces in pursuit of economic policy, total freezes on immigration...

 

For my money most of these middle-class intellectuals who march in the streets and advocate anarchy and revolution don't even understand the first thing about what they are saying. Many of them haven't even seen a broken nose. Armed revolution? Men under arms dying for their 'terrible beauty'? They may be right, but I'd be damned before I'd walk with them down the road.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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Keep in mind that the US is conservative on most fronts. The Republican party is filled with conservatives, but even the Democrats are far from being liberal. Ultra-conservatives have less reason to get up in arms. Ultra-liberals are far from from being able to push their agendas with regular channels, so they go to the extreme. I don't agree with it, but I do think ultra conservatives would (and have) go to the same extremes if the country were more liberal.

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HAH! As Gromnir would say. Good fun!

 

I can honestly say I've been threatened more often by angry left-wingers than by angry right-wingers. Although If I wanted to be mendacious I'd say that perhaps right-wingers simply don't give you the warning!  :) I've also heard a pacifist say that the human race needs to be 20% of its current size, and refusing to specify how this might be organised.  :shifty:

 

But I think you'd be going quite far to typify Republicans as being sweetness and Light...

 

Oh, I wouldn't say that. Mature republicans definitely take things that are important to them very seriously, since their choices about their government directly effect government's role in their lives. But those "lighter" elements that have been pounded into people's heads as being synonymous with American liberals (I honestly have only a loose grip of politics abroad, and none at all of their behaviors), also have their dark sides. As with one my earlier examples, pacifists may seem noble, until they call for the deaths of American soldiers. No, I definitely wouldn't try to personify conservatives as cute and cuddly, but I never would do so to liberals.

 

It's been a few years since I visited the States, but I don't think things can have shifted so far.  :wacko: Unilateral withdrawal from all international treaties,

 

What?

unrestricted use of the armed forces in pursuit of economic policy,
Huh?
total freezes on immigration...
Ha!

 

For my money most of these middle-class intellectuals who march in the streets and advocate anarchy and revolution don't even understand the first thing about what they are saying. Many of them haven't even seen a broken nose. Armed revolution? Men under arms dying for their 'terrible beauty'? They may be right, but I'd be damned before I'd walk with them down the road.

 

Oh, I think they know exactly what they are saying, and I think they mean it. That's why they lose so often.

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