Friday, December 17, 2004

More on arguing like a lawyer

Digby has a good post up about the problems we Democrats have communicating with the public. I'd like to offer another way of looking at what's going on here. I'm not at all sure that the public does quite want the shout fests that are such a part of televised political discourse, but the shout fests may be close to what they do want. I think that what the public expects and wants, and what nearly everyone (except the Democrats) are doing is treating our political discourse like a court trial.

The Republican representative is always the counsel for conservatives, and as such everything in the discussion that favors their position is presented as correct and unimpeachable and all evidence presented against them is doubtful and suspect. The electorate is acting as jurors and expects opposing counsels to make their cases. The press is simply reporting on what happens and is not involved in correcting either side.

Now enter the Democratic party. Instead of acting as counsel for liberalism and arguing in the same kind of "we and our witnesses are completely correct and theirs are all suspect or corrupt" kind of trial lawyers mode, we argue more like scientists at a conference. We will always concede a well made point and we make sure to inform everyone of the weaknesses in our positions and so forth (see Like a lawyer not a Scientist ). When people are expecting a trial lawyer and get instead a scientist he looks uncertain, weak and vacillating. Furthermore, I suspect that because we insist on presenting things in this scientific conference mode, when everyone else is at a trial, we seem stuck-up and elitist.

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