Sticks and Stones

One would doubt there could be many left in this country who have not already made up their minds about November 2004 — the universal choice is either the current administration or absolutely anybody else whomsoever. Feelings are high. Yet I persist in saying passionately that name-calling is injurious to everyone on all sides.

Terms like ‘idiot’ and ‘moron’, applied to candidates on either side, announce to thinking people that the brain has been shut down: alas, yes, it’s too late for discussion or analysis with this chap. Deprecating terms fairly shout: “Don’t even bother discussing the issues with people like me. Your candidate’s a moron. If you’re going to vote for him, you must be a moron too.”

We rightly recoil stiffly when we hear terms like that used to dismiss folks on our own side with no further hearing. Do we presume our audience to be safely on “our side”? Or do we write them off as already lost to the other? No matter. People who hear name-calling react the same way, and with good reason. Admit it. You do too.

The administration’s popularity is at an all time low. And we as a people are more highly polarized than we have been in 40 years. I think it is important to reach even people who think they’ve made up their mind by hammering on the issues one by one. The issues are the sticks and stones that topple administrations. They have done so before and will do so again.

It’s not true that “names will never hurt me”. Whatever cause you fancy, name-calling hurts your own position by making it look weak, poorly thought out, and too fragile to expose to the light of day.

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