Every election season brings together interesting characters – people who supposedly represent the epitome of logical reasoning. Masters of rhetoric. We are supposed to trust them to deliver nothing less than a set of coherent arguments about their different visions for the country. Or so I thought. The more I watch the Donald battle Hillary Clinton, the more laughable this election becomes. Not that Canadian politics is any cleaner, but just less humorous and fewer scandals that have nothing to do with the issues. In theory, politicians are judged on the soundness of their arguments. Nothing could be farther from the truth of course.
First of all, what is an argument? It is a set of premises that lead to a conclusion. Anyone who has had an iota of training in logic knows opponents must attack each other on the premises. However, given we have seen and heard from both sides in the Trump v Clinton contest, it is much easier to resort to personal attacks than it is to focus on the issues. Words taken out of their context are the main staple of political attack ads. Politics has become synonymous with a world of character attacks where the skeletons in one’s closet can became fair game. Does any intelligent person really believe what they see or hear on TV?
Maybe this is why my interest in politics has diminished over the years. If you want to win the highest office in the free world, then the least you can do is to differentiate personal attacks from real arguments. Not only would this inspire the next class of Logic 101 students, it would also make these contests less divisive. If we could bring back arguments into political discussions, perhaps the younger generation would not be so turned off by politicians .