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After a 14 month hiatus from Dailykos, I grew to miss the substantive debate that can only come from political nuts. Sure, I have friends who watch the news and read the speeches, but it's not the same. I got tired of having to explain the situation before being able to discuss it, and since I'm the one who had to actually tell them what was going on in the first place, I may as well have been debating myself.

So I came back, excited to once again engage in an active discussion of policy, tactics, the merits of legislation and what needed to be fixed.

Unfortunately, this is not what I found when I came back.

There are quite a few flaws that I see repeated by people on every side of every issue, and I'm hoping that by putting them here and making fun of them, I'll get on the rec list we can all get back to the intelligent, substantive debate that had to have happened here at some point, because otherwise what the fuck are we doing here?

FLAW 1: Citing random Republican agreement with your point as proof that your point is right.

I think a lot of us have seen this. It usually pops up during debates about the merits of legislation, the downsides of legislation, etc. It's almost exclusively used to highlight negatives of said legislation, and it usually takes the following form:

Link to right-wing publication / AP or Reuters story / CNN:

Random Vaguely Moderate Republican (often Colin Powell): This piece of legislation is flawed because of XYZ and will cause the uninterrupted murder of puppies.

Diarist / Commenter: SEE??? Even this Random Vaguely Moderate Republican / Colin Powell thinks this is a bad idea!

This is flawed for the obvious reason of: since when the hell do we listen to what the Republicans are saying?

We spend way too much time on this and other political sites, making a damn career out of mocking everything the Republicans say and countering everything they're trying to do. We decry the calls for bipartisanship, right up until the moment a semi-rational Republican agrees with our viewpoint.

Then, we're just silly for using bipartisanship to strengthen our argument.

Why this is a flaw:

In a political climate where Republicans do everything they can to destroy the Obama Administration and everything it tries to do, does it really make sense to use their obviously forthcoming negativity no matter what the issue is to strengthen your argument?

No, it doesn't make sense.


Stop doing that.

*             *             *

FLAW 2: You're a purity troll / Obama-bot / paid shill for something / part of "the usual suspects" (not the ones from that Kevin Spacey Movie)

This is an attack on a user's credibility and motives for posting diaries or comments. The objective is to make people so suspicious of someone that they will forever doubt their words, regardless of validity.

"The grass is green" my ass, Paid Shill! We're not stupid, everyone knows you're in the pocket of Big Crayola!

Sometimes it really is that stupid.

Another objective to this is to eventually drive the target away, or at least get them to stop posting things you can't refute with a calm, logical set of facts and arguments.

This has already been mentioned by Meteor Blades, so I won't spend too much time on it, but come on, people. If you accuse me of getting paid to write meta, then I'm going to accuse you of getting paid to accuse people of bullshit, and it's just going to spiral out of control.

Why this is a flaw:

If their argument is so bad, why can't you just attack that instead of the author?

Because you can't.


Dude, just stop doing that.

*             *             *

FLAW 3: This topic has been done to death / I'm tired of this topic

We all have our opinions. Oftentimes, they overlap and someone scoops us. Instead of trying to do IP reverse look-ups so you can find the bastard who ruined your day, you can either move on or cover the topic anyway, trying to add some fresh insight or a new perspective.

If the topic is a particularly popular one, you can bet your ass and six of your goats that someone will come in only to take a dump on everyone in there, proclaiming the topic "played out" and it's "old news" and how they're "tired of reading about a topic they're under no obligation to read about."

Then someone points out that they didn't have to click on the damn diary in the first place, which is somehow a MORTAL INSULT that must be PAID in BLOOD or COVERED in MUSTARD.

This tactic is basically used to dismiss the entire diary because clearly, if 35 people have written about a subject, any and all aspects of said subject have been covered and there's no need to look any further. The user of this tactic might feel that he's performing an important service by keeping the diary list from getting cluttered, but in reality they're just being a huge douchebag.

This is often used by a group of people who feel they have been losing some arguments of late, so they want to try and squash the topic itself, because then they'll win the internet or something, I really don't know what their goal is.

Why this is a flaw:

You don't have to read the diary. You really don't.


Fucking stop.

*             *             *

FLAW 4: us vs. them mentality / false dichotomy / you either agree with me and are a true progressive, or you disagree and you're Robo-Hitler with Leprosy / TheBlaz is the sexiest user on DailyKos or you're blind

This is the biggest one. Most common, most annoying, and most dividing, and it depends heavily on people reading it not realizing that there can very well be more than two sides to every argument (for example, just because you don't think I'm the sexiest user on this site doesn't make you blind; you could just have extremely poor taste).

There have been a lot of well-written pleas for peace, many intelligent musings on the differing factions and what they want. We need some more of those diaries, the ones calling for a unifying of the factions and working together to achieve our goals.

I'm not good at any of that, so I'm just going to rant a lot.

If this argument was personified into a physical being, it would hide under children's beds and steal their dreams. It's so mind-numbingly polarizing that there's almost no point in contributing if you don't agree with the premise, since the diarist already proclaimed you to be Robo-Hitler.

It attempts to close off any debate, instead insisting that the author has God Almighty on his side and any dissenters will be cast into the abyss.

It seems as though there are two types of people who use this:

  1. People who are so myopically dedicated to their cause that they take any disagreement as a personal attack, and thus craft their arguments to attack first;


  1. People who doubt that their argument can win on merit alone and so attempt to make people defend their progressive / liberal bonafides instead of dealing with the aspects of the argument itself (also known as the "How long have you been beating your wife" technique).

But in reality, there's only one type of person who uses this:

  1. Assholes.

Why this is a flaw:

If you can't see why this is a flaw, then some important formative aspect of your life has failed you, and I'm sorry.


I don't want to do this anymore.

*             *             *

So, can we all agree that the above flaws are designed to destroy all that is good and just about political debate, and that the excessive use of them are creating massive rifts between us?

We all have our own ideas and thoughts as to how to achieve our goals, but a damn lot of them are shared goals. We all basically want similar things, so can't we just knuckle down, leave our attitudes at the door and figure out how to work together to help fix our country?

Yeah, I doubt it, too.

EDIT: I called "legislation" "legislature" three or four times, thanks for the catch Kalex.

Originally posted to TheBlaz on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 09:23 AM PDT.

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