I love political debate. It believe it is an art form. It is one that I know most of you probably shy away from. I know that you probably think no one ever changes their mind. If that were true though, we would have no reason to discuss any political issue and we would be electing officials who could never be swayed. I don’t believe that is true. I believe we can be swayed by political discussion, but they have to be done properly. Political debate is the main reason I wanted a degree in Political Science. I wanted to be able to push myself and my peers on our beliefs. I have stretched and grown multiple times over the years as my mind is changed from hearing a new perspective. I plan to teach my child that political debate is okay, but it has to be done properly.
1. Know your stance
The most important thing about political debate is having a stance and knowing what it is, because you’ll have to defend it. You’d be surprised at the number of political debates I’ve had with people just regurgitating sound bytes they’ve heard on the news. I’m never swayed by this type of debate. I find it hard to believe that the person is actually passionate about the topic, and I find that they almost never want to hear the flip side of the coin. I like to have a list of at least 5 reasons I oppose or support a topic before I even start a conversation.
2. Be willing to do research
You may find that your friend has a point. The truth is that not every debate ends after an hour of sparing. It doesn’t end when you don’t have a counterpoint. You’ll want to research that point and see if you are actually swayed to the other side. The point your friend made might be a valid reason to reconsider your stance, but you’ll have to be willing to dig deep and look into it.
3. Play fair
This means ABSOLUTELY NO NAME CALLING. You and your friend don’t agree on politics, but you don’t have to shout or call each other names. You can simply agree to disagree if neither of you can be swayed to a new stance. That’s a completely acceptable end to a debate.
I believe that healthy debate helps us grow as people and as a society. We just have to stretch the debate muscle and play fair.
What are your rules of debate?