With the 2016 Presidential election season already in full swing it seems like everyone has opinions they want to shout at everyone else, be it on cable news, on Facebook, or elsewhere. That got me thinking about guidelines for keeping things civil during the thirteen-plus months until the elections, and I came up with the following, most of which aren’t specific to political discourse. Please call me out if I fail to follow any of these on this journal or elsewhere, and please suggest others that might be useful:
- Recognize the difference between a debate and an argument, and avoid the latter.
- Never ignore or dismiss facts that conflict with your preferred position.
- Don’t complain about what’s wrong without also suggesting a way to fix it.
- Make an effort to understand those you disagree with. Make an effort to be critical of those you agree with.
- A solution where both sides win is infinitely better than a solution where one side loses.
- Always consider the possibility that you might be wrong and that those you disagree with might be right.
- Remember that politics is not the same thing as government.