Solutions Oriented Approach to Restoring Meaningful Civil Discourse

Discussion in 'Political Opinions & Beliefs' started by Meta777, Mar 30, 2018.

  1. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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    Folks...I hate to say this, but we have a problem. As a matter of fact, we have several problems, some of them long standing, others emergent or just over the horizon, but perhaps chief among them all is the apparent reality that we have become incapable of implementing meaningful change on anything major, at least for the most part, and thusly, many of our issues persist almost as if indefinitely. Some might be quick to blame such dysfunction on our elected officials, but we should keep in mind who it is that keeps them employed...

    Worse still, while the political situation is bad enough, our societal dysfunction as a whole has gotten to the point that we can't even civilly discuss many of these issues with one another at all, let-alone agree to what it is we want our elected officials to do about them. Its already a shame when talking about politics amongst 'polite company' has become a taboo, If we allow that to become the norm even in venues where talking politics is the whole point, that wont just be a shame, it'll be a travesty.

    [​IMG]
    And I'm sure a lot of you here at Politicalforum have noticed this too...in fact, I know you have. I've seen the posts, I've seen the threads that point this out. We all agree that hardly anyone seems to talk about things that actually matter anymore. It used to be one could find many insightful discussions about meaningful political topics around here and elsewhere on the net. But it is becoming exceedingly difficult to find anything even remotely approaching the appearance of a civil discussion regarding the major issues we face, and on the rare occasion one is found, it usually isn't long before it devolves into little more than a blame game of one sort or another. But even putting aside the hyper-partisan finger-pointing..., in my opinion, even the subjects themselves have become all too often about things which are superficial or non-consequential within the grand scheme of things. That is to say, we as a country seem to be more interested in discussing 'hot topics' rather than engaging in the 'important topics'...or at least that's the way I see it...well, not just me; people tell pollsters what it is they view as important. And those things are not the things which get discussed the most, if at all.

    Without getting into matters of Russian influence or whatnot, I believe the surface reason for this is simple. People in general simply tend to be much more interested in discussing things that are new and or sensational, rather than rehashing older topics that have already been discussed before. Even if consensual solutions for those older topics have yet to be arrived at (some folks seem to simply give up on the idea that a consensual solution is even possible). Or, everyone discusses some issue, agrees that it is an issue and that something should be done about it, but stops short of actually thinking up any solutions. On top of that, enter stage right the news media, in all its various forms, which, by its very nature almost exclusively reports primarily on breaking occurrences or events which are out of the ordinary, extreme, or again,...sensationalized, which we on the net are of course then inclined to discuss to excessive lengths.

    As a result, after any particular issue or problem has gotten its initial 15 minutes in the spotlight, it seems to be the case that it is never discussed much more after that, baring some similarly sensational new development occurring, as we as a society regretfully move on to discussing newer and or more dramatic topics. We never seem to stick with one issue for long enough to come up with solutions. Even if these very issues happen to be the easiest ones to come to consensus on, or happen to have bigger impacts on our collective lives when compared to the newer more fantastic dilemmas.

    Given the eventful times that we live in and the expansive media environment which has evolved more and more over time to sensationalize every second of each new event in order to hold our attention, coupled with the emerging social media spear encouraging us to immediately share our opinion on whatever the hot new topic is, its really no wonder that we as a society have become so unfocused. Its no wonder that we prefer to speculate on the arcane and often inconsequential meaning of sensationalized events or merely point out new things that occurred in the world rather than truly discussing the ongoing problems of our time/how to solve them. And its no wonder that the issues we say really matter to us...are so often considered to be "low profile".

    [​IMG]
    Having said all that, I'm not exactly of the opinion that emergent and breaking events and issues should not be discussed at all, I just don't think they should be allowed to completely drown out the more pressing issues or prevent us from ever focusing on any one issue long enough to actually think up mutually acceptable solutions. But perhaps things aren't really quite as bad as I'm making them out to be. I mean...after all, there seems to be plenty of folks who at least say that they would like to see such more impactful conversations. I think its just a matter of finding ways to better facilitate such discussion.

    There are of course those who have no such desire to engage in that sort of civil discourse;
    some people just like to post on boards like these for fun after-all, and then there are some who post...for other reasons...But as far as threads go, its my belief that a thread, when properly defined and with emphasis given to concisely gearing it towards a specific, nonpartisan goal are a lot less likely to be driven astray by posters who'd rather talk about something else, while a poorly defined thread that lacks proper focus is more prone to drift off topic or into the usual partisan back and forth, regardless of who's posting in it...which brings me to my next point...

    That being that another likely factor contributing to our continual failure to come to broad agreement on solutions/the steep drop in the number of threads that even try, could be that in the rare cases that those "low profile" issues do get discussed, it is more often than not in the context of someone putting forth a lone solution, but without consideration for the broader context of the issue or of possible alternative solutions. In such a scenario, discussion of different alternatives may even be discouraged as off-topic, or provided without proper illustration of the broader scope of the issue and all potential solutions, in which case we can end up contrasting the original solution with other potential solutions one by one, which is better than nothing, but without having a birds eye view, such comparisons may only act to diminish one idea or another, rather than fostering any sort of true understanding as to what the general consensus is regarding the overall goal and what the best solution might be given all the options,...at best, this scenario at least leads to multiple options being discussed. At worst, only one is discussed, a case which likely leads to no minds being changed. But I think the most frequent outcome is that discussions as these boil down to comparisons of just two ideas, which may or may not be the most popular or desired, but which completely dominate the topic and take up any room there might have been for consideration of other possibilities. None of these are good outcomes in my opinion, because as long as debaters can think to themselves that there are yet better ideas out there, even if they are not discussed, or perhaps, because they are not discussed, we ultimately end up with the same result as before...a conversation that concludes with usually not much to show for it. In my opinion, it would be much better to set threads up in such a way as to show participants that there are more than just one or two solutions to any given problem, and to encourage them to be creative in identifying and or coming up with new ones.

    [​IMG]
    But to explore the wider spectrum of solutions in that way, its important that those involved really understand the problem in question. If we want to avoid things like binary thinking or posting without purpose, its necessary that the parameters of a conversation be well defined. Obviously, it is important for and we would all certainly like for every individual contributor to do their part as well, remaining on topic and keeping in mind with every post what the main purpose of the conversation was, but its hard to expect anyone to do this with any success if the original post itself is vague, overly broad, or does not set some sort of goal for the conversation to adhere to other than..."here's an issue, now discuss". And I do believe that that is something where we, as a forum, as a wider internet community, and as a society overall have a lot of room for improvement. Heck, when I look out onto this very site today, it seems to me that half the time not even the problem itself is being adequately described when new threads are created. No wonder then that we so often lose sight of what and why we're actually discussing things, or at best only ever end up considering a mere one or two solutions at a time before declaring all of them bad and continuing the cycle of failing to come to any sort of resolution or path to improvement.

    Then again, more than just a lack of focus and direction, perhaps it is also the case that we have all been conditioned into the aforementioned binary thinking by our very political environment. Perhaps it is our two party system itself, structurally enshrined into our political processes, which inclines us to become so cleanly split as a nation such as to be unable to view things within a wider lens...But if this is so, then what can we do about it?

    (continued)
     
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  2. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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    My belief is that we first need to restore our desire and ability to talk about the issues (the core issues that is, not just the 'hot' topics). But this requires, not only initiative, but, again, focus...that is, focus on what is actually important, the overall problem in question and what we can do to solve it. Speaking just of what we at politicalforum can do, we can start by creating threads with just such a focus in mind. That is, threads created, not simply to repeat whatever the media is reporting on at the time, rather, as mentioned before, threads which clearly identify a particular societal issue, and which are specifically geared towards exploring the full spectrum of potential solutions to said issue.

    Of course, it is again important that posters in threads be cognitive of such things as well, but I believe that simply creating improved OPs will go a long ways to restoring civil discourse. Because imo, posters are much more likely to contribute civilly to a well created thread than they are to turn a conversation in one that is less well made. Additionally, a poster is also more likely to contribute to such a thread, than they are to make one themselves. And that's understandable. Creating an OP, a good one, is more difficult (and time consuming) than it is to simply create a good post. And most of us have pretty busy lives. But still, its important that some of us step up and take the initiative nonetheless if we really want to restore the sort of civil discourse we had in the past.

    I myself am not particularly good at it. If you've managed to read this far in, first of all, thanks, and second, you can probably tell that at this point, I've already rehashed several points multiple times, and just generally have a bad habit of using too many words sometimes (it actually takes me more time and effort to cut these things down to size). But the point is, threads like these don't have to be perfect by any means, they can have flaws, I just don't think we should continue letting a lack of purpose, focus, or direction be among them.

    And I know that all sounds like I lot of work...it is; it'd be much easier to simply rely on someone else to fix the issues, but its my view that we can't exactly expect others to do the work for us. Not even our politicians...especially not our politicians. The last thing we want to be expecting of them, is for them to do things which even we ourselves are unable to do. Too often we leave the bulk of the thinking to our elected representatives, when in truth, they may be no more equipped to handle these issues, mentally speaking, than any of the rest of us. And even in cases where they are so equipped, may yet be incentivized to do otherwise by our sociopolitical structure. So I ask, how are we, the general populous to hold them accountable...to know whether or not they are doing a good job, to know who among them is not doing a good job and as such should be removed, if we ourselves do not truly understand the issues or what it takes to solve them?

    [​IMG]
    So to start us off, I have put together a list of issues that I believe we as a society ought to be discussing until we arrive at some solution for them. Things which I feel should be easier to discuss are listed at the top, and I plan on creating a separate thread for each of them, which...of course, will be geared specifically towards finding different solutions to the issues, and, hopefully coming to some sort of consensus as to which are the best ones. Perhaps using a vote of sorts to measure the strength of that consensus.

    I've been thinking about making a series like this for years, but props to @Troianii and his thread, Partisan politics has gotten worse, for finally inspiring me to actually get it started with the Automation thread. Below is a full list of topics I hope to cover. Will definitely be making a thread for each of the ones in the top section. The first one in the list, which I'm creating along side this one actually has a lot to do I think with what's causing much of the divisiveness in political discussion and gridlock amongst our elected representatives, so I hope a lot of you will drop by to participate in that one. The items at the bottom of the list I view as inherently more difficult conversations (at least for me), but depending on how these first few go I may create threads for those as well. Also, taking any requests for other topics, just post them in this thread if you think its an important issue that we've been avoiding.

    The list so far:

    Wow, if you managed to make it all the way to the end of this, congratulations. I know it was a lot to go through. As I was inspired, hopefully I've inspired some of you to participate in these threads, or perhaps even to create your own with the same ideas in mind. Now, let's see if I can take a stab at summarizing that rant-like mess up there...

    Summary:
    So, in conclusion, if we as a society are ever going to break out of this pattern of perpetual political paralyzation and debility, we need to reteach ourselves how to discuss the issues and how to come to agreements on how to solve them. We cannot let ourselves get too distracted by recent or sensational events, to the point that we lose focus from what we most want to deal with. And when we do discuss things, we should do our best to keep discourse targeted towards finding solutions where they lie within the bigger picture rather than allowing things to devolve into mere finger pointing.

    Please post below any other ideas you folks have for how we as a society/web community might improve the general level of civil discourse.

    And lastly, I'll just mention that even if we are successful in setting up conversations in this way, it is inevitable that we aren't all always going to agree on what the best solution is for whatever topic is being discussed. I'm not so naive to think we'll ever not have to ask ourselves at some point, what to do when consensus is far from unanimous.
    But that too, is a problem which can be solved...

    -Meta
     
  3. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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  4. slackercruster

    slackercruster Banned

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    OP, way too long for me. I got ADD. May I suggest you use more breaks in your writing to make it easier to digest if you write a long piece.

    But I got the idea in the first part of the post. I will say from what I did read, I concur. I also liked the squirrel with the camera.

    You know OP, societies and countries don't last forever. Remember how great Rome was and what it is nowadays?

    Here is the deal. The reason people can't come together is in the old days the parties were just a little separated but were mainly on the same wavelength. Nowadays things are polar opposites so you can never get together.

    It is homo marriage or no homo marriage, it is confiscate the guns or not to confiscate the guns, it is kill the babies or not to kill the babies, it is let the illegals freely in or not to let the illegals freely in and on and on.

    You can never settle these issues. In fact it will only get worse as society becomes more extreme and entrenched.

    In our future, the demographic trend shows for continual Dem control of the political system. As such the Dems will work to repeal the 2A or make it into a useless interpretation by their puppet SCOTUS justices. (ex: you are allowed muzzle loaders.)

    If the Dems take power and if they can call in the guns, it would not surprise me at all if the Dems take down the borders and let the illegals flood in to do the dirty work of disarming the patriots. They would dangle the promise of citizenship for doing a successful job. The Dems would arm and deputize the illegals and let them loose to roam the country to confiscate the guns by any means necessary.

    If the country goes to hell with internal civil war by a Dem based gun confiscation, what better time could there be for a foreign country to attack us? EMP, shut down our grid, bio chemical attack. And who is to blame...the gun grabbing Dems.

    If this scenario came to pass, don't you think the patriots are within their rights to take out every Dem they could find under articles of treason?

    Isn't that exactly the deadly war the Dems propose on the conservatives?

    If guns are outlawed, they will be confiscated by force of death...the end result you die if you do not comply.

    Or if you are lucky, you get arrested as a felon and thrown into jail. Once in prison, you will probably lose your property, your job and the life you have created. And when you are let out of prison you may end up homeless to live and die on the streets. And all for trying to preserve the freedoms that America was founded on.

    The black guns will be the deciding point in this fight. Once the black guns are confiscated the citizens have lost any ability to fight further confiscation and the gov is free to go down the line calling them all in.

    ...just as they have done in the UK and Australia.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
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  5. Lee Atwater

    Lee Atwater Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I don't think that is the fundamental problem. Rather, it is that one side has "alternate facts" and one side has facts. If you can't agree on factual matters that constitute a problem you'll never agree on the solution. Example........how can we agree on what's to be done about climate change when one side denies it is happening and or that it is human caused?
     
  6. AZ.

    AZ. Banned

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    What did Rush Limpballs ever do for our country that was a positive?..

    Absolutely NOTHING.....but the right laps it up.....Listened to **** for years and believed it the whole time!

    Its never changing as long as right wing radio spreads hate and deceit!
     
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  7. MissingMayor

    MissingMayor Well-Known Member

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    Bravo.

    IMO we need to set up a structure that is more suitable for debates. It would be nice if there was a special set of forums that were highly moderated to discuss some topics. Perhaps even a forum devoted towards improving discussion in general.

    I understand it is impossible and impractical to moderate every single thread as much as some would like, but a special smaller section could lead to more slowly moving and constructive threads.
     
  8. MissingMayor

    MissingMayor Well-Known Member

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    I agree. Posters intentionally spreading misinformation quickly destroys a discussion.
     
  9. webrockk

    webrockk Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Buck up, utopianists...this is your Brave New World. Civil discourse is as dead as the dinosaurs and Algore's fancy internet killed it.
     
  10. MolonLabe2009

    MolonLabe2009 Banned

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    Are you blaming all this on conservative AM radio?

    LMFAO!

    The culprits are ABC-NBC-CBS-CNN-MSNBC-PBS-NPR-LAT-NYT-Time-Newsweek-Hollywood with their 24/7 vitriolic hate and attacks on Republicans, conservatives, Christians, gun-owners, etc.
     
  11. AZ.

    AZ. Banned

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    And there ya have it folks...............We are doomed, and failer is the only outcome!

    America is dead............Government is evil.........You cant write this stuff, and Russia loves it.....Good day sir, I will add you to just one of many that have helped destroy my country!
     
  12. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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    Heh, I can tell a few of you haven't yet gotten the message I was trying to convey regarding the general unhelpfulness of finger pointing. Rather than focusing so much on placing blame, it would be much more beneficial in my opinion, to focus instead on coming up with ways to improve the way we communicate with one another. And no, getting rid of the other side, isn't really a serious solution. If you truly think though, that the issue lies specifically with one individual, or one group of people/the way they think, view the world, and or how they choose to converse, then what you want to do is identify the particular style of thinking etc. (not the individual or group) and focus on why/how it is detrimental for civil discourse.

    -Meta
     
  13. AZ.

    AZ. Banned

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    In my country there is no organized religion, in my country people can love who they want, in my country my elected officials are there to help me be free, in my country women have a choice.......That should be simple, Life ,Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!

    It is 2018....not the 50's........The horse and buggy are dead, but the thinking stays the same?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2018
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  14. rcfoolinca288

    rcfoolinca288 Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    The OP is correct. A few posts in and the finger pointing is already flying. I fear this thread too, will stray far from what the OP have intended it to be......
     
  15. MolonLabe2009

    MolonLabe2009 Banned

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    So, you want to abolish religion? How communist of you.

    In your country, do women have a "choice" to carry a firearm for protection?

    In your country, do people have a "choice" of sending their children to a private school and receiving a school voucher in doing so?

    Attacking the 2nd Amendment and gun owners is NOT freedom and liberty.

    Wanting government to regulate one's life from cradle to grave is NOT freedom and liberty.

    Wanting government to confiscate one's money via taxation is NOT freedom and liberty.

    It is 2018....not the 50's USSR........The days of government controlling your life is dead!
     
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  16. Quantum Nerd

    Quantum Nerd Well-Known Member

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    I am sure that most of us on this forum would get along pretty well, if we actually would be discussing politics eye to eye in a bar, vs. doing so anonymously on an internet forum. It is much harder to say to another person, for example, "your side are all idiots" when you look them in the face.

    So, in my view, social media have contributed greatly to the decrease in the standards of a debate. Unfortunately, you don't only see this in political debate, but it starts in middle school, when kids use social media to bully and degrade others.
     
  17. AZ.

    AZ. Banned

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    Nope....I meet these drunk old guys all the time in bars......Best is to point out their hypocrisy, and the people around them chim in over and over...You cant fix ignorance but it is easy to point it out!
     
  18. Thought Criminal

    Thought Criminal Well-Known Member Donor

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    The biggest, by far, hindrances to solutions are that:

    1. The personal attack is a staple debate tactic.

    2. Spin is another main debate tool.

    Honesty, integrity, and civility practically guarantee defeat in any debate these days.

    Until ethics are restored in education, it's hopeless to believe they can be restored in society.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
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  19. Meta777

    Meta777 Moderator Staff Member

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    Sorry,
    And thanks for the suggestion!

    I believe the polarization and binary thinking are a natural product of our election system.
    And like you said, it tends to get worse over time. I disagree though with the idea that the issue can't be fixed.
    We have the power to fix it if we want to. I actually posted another thread specifically to explore different ways for how we can do it.

    http://www.politicalforum.com/index...duce-partisan-dysfunction-in-politics.529608/

    Don't worry, the OP there is a lot shorter read than the one here (well, if you don't count the third post),
    so might be worth a look if you're interested.

    -Meta
     
  20. slackercruster

    slackercruster Banned

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    Now the foundation of the problem is due to forcing ones view on another. In my previous reply I used a few examples of homo marriage, guns, illegals and abortion.

    The only way you will resolve these polarizing issues is to break the US into 2 countries or 2 divisions...The Democratic States of America and the Republican States of America.

    You will never have any resolution otherwise. It would be nice if the country could stick together, but it can't. America was founded on freedom. One side wants to force it views on the other side and no one likes living under a tyrannical rule.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
  21. vman12

    vman12 Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Thanks for making @Meta777 take an extended facepalm break.

    This is everything he was just talking about.
     
  22. AZ.

    AZ. Banned

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    Again what has the drug addict Rush ever did that was positive?

    He is a cancer, and all the right followed his lead...Im sorry the truth hurts so much...But deal with it......You cant change history
     
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  23. vman12

    vman12 Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    IMHO it all boils down to the "Education" topic.

    It is typically at the point that in this forum that when you start providing evidence and facts that the discussion ends, or, quite frankly, when you point out facts to the moderation team and they suddenly have nothing to say.

    Our children are not being taught how to think, they are being taught "what" to think. Educational systems are intruding like never before in an attempt to supplant parental authority and make decisions about children OUTSIDE of school.

    Our colleges are full of Marxism and critical theory who actively fight against those things that made our country what it is.

    Children are not being taught economics, logic, or our system of government. Instead, they are being taught to create victim classes and argue among themselves in a race to the bottom.

    They're not being taught to debate. They're being taught to shout down opposing viewpoints.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
  24. Lee Atwater

    Lee Atwater Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I have often lamented the way threads go off topic and devolve in to ad hominem attacks. Typically due to disagreements on matters of who has their facts straight.
     
  25. Seth Bullock

    Seth Bullock Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Meta, I read through your entire essay with much interest.

    I, too, am much more interested in seeking solutions to problems rather than endlessly rehashing the partisan talking points of every issue. Everybody has already heard them, and the threads are boring ... same old, same old.

    I have also grown tired of threads getting completely derailed. I often see a thread started on, say, North Korean nukes, and less than two pages from the start of the thread, someone is arguing with someone else about Hillary Clinton's email server or some other off topic issue. Or, just as often, a couple of posters are trying to out-snark the other one with their veiled insults. Someone will say something like, "Stop listening to Fox News propaganda" and, the next thing you know, they're arguing about who is being taken in by who's propaganda, and the conversation devolves from there.

    I have tried to cultivate on-line relationships with people on this forum who disagree with me but who will actually discuss things with me. It is always satisfying when we can find areas of agreement. It helps restore my belief that if reasonable people will actually sit down and do the work of listening, understanding, and trying to find solutions, it can be done. But these interactions are hard to come by.

    Some time ago, I PM'd one of the mods or administrators (I can't remember who it was), and I suggested a creating a forum within the forum. I suggested a tightly moderated "invitation only" forum for like-minded people who really wanted to respectfully discuss an issue. Some rules I suggested were ...

    - Respectful conversation only. No insulting, to include veiled, implied, or passive-aggressive behavior. I see this all the time on the forum. For example, "You're an idiot" is replaced by "Liberals are living in a fantasy world" or "Conservatives are uneducated rednecks". What the poster is really saying is that the other guy in the thread is an idiot, but he doesn't want to get in trouble by just coming right out and saying so. But the meaning is clear, isn't it? All of that would not be allowed on this sub-forum.

    - Strictly on topic only. The regular forum is fairly lax about staying on topic. This sub-forum would not tolerate any of it.

    - Interaction and response required. This forum could not be used to just spray paint some graffiti, so to speak. Opinions on things would have to be explained. There would be some effort and time put into it in exchange for being allowed to post in this sub-forum. And you could not start a thread and then just ignore people. So if I start a thread on something, and someone responds, having put in a good faith effort, I would be expected to respond back to that person with a good faith effort.

    The consequence of not obeying the rules would simply be being excluded from this particular sub-forum. The excluded person could still take part in the main forum.

    This sub-forum would be under the control of a mod such as yourself. You would be the gatekeeper and the policeman, as well as a participant.

    From a technical standpoint I know this can be done because I've seen it before on another site.

    But, even if my suggestion doesn't happen, I wish you luck with these threads, and I will look at them and see if I can contribute anything.

    You asked for a suggestion for a thread topic. You mentioned gun rights vs gun violence. In recent weeks I have been asking the question: What happened? I can show reliable and indisputable statistics that these mass shootings are contemporaneous to the past 30 years, and especially since the turn of the century. These sorts of crimes were almost unheard of a generation ago even though gun availability was equal to or greater than it is today. What happened? What changed? How do we reverse whatever it is that has gone wrong? These are difficult questions. But these are the difficult questions we need to try to address. So there's a suggestion for a topic for you.

    Seth
     

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