Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Opposite Argument

One effective tool to discuss politics and other topics such as sports with adversaries is to use the “opposite argument”. The opposite argument consists of taking the side of your opponent’s point of view, but pointing out the negative future ramifications of their argument. The advantage of using the opposite argument is it enables individuals to understand both sides of the issue and therefore, to provide better solutions and compromises. In essence, the opposite argument is great way to break down barriers and to reduce national polarity.

Global warming is a great example. Although, I do not agree that global warming is manmade, I do believe it is occurring. After all, thousands of years ago most of North America was covered with a sheet of ice. I also believe that carbon emissions are pollutants that they are harmful to our health. In fact, carbon dioxide (CO2) is a poison. Thus, by agreeing with the global warming activist’s point of view (albeit for different reasons) it has forced me to find better solutions than what they propose to solve the problem. Of course, progressives think the only solution to climate change is expensive renewable energies and a massive carbon tax. Both of these proposals will ultimately have a negative cataclysmic effect on our economy. Thus, I propose solving the problem by using CO2 scrubbers that will reduce CO2 in our atmosphere without destroying our economies or our lifestyles.

Another good example is the argument over enhanced interrogation techniques or torture. Once again, I will agree with liberals that water boarding is most likely torture. My reason is simple: I do not want to be water boarded. In any event, the Bush administration only water boarded 3 enemy combatants and documents proved it saved American lives. Think about it; history had a favorable impression of both Harry Truman and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). Truman dropped two atomic bombs on Japan killing and torturing hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians; meanwhile FDR imprisoned over 100 thousand Japanese Americans during WWII in internment camps. History claims that both actions taken by Truman and FDR saved lives. Bush’s actions also saved lives, but at the same time his actions do not pale in comparison to those actions taken by both Truman and FDR. If Truman and FDR were right; then so was George W. Bush. Besides, I guarantee most Americans would not have any problem water boarding any criminal that has kidnapped their child to obtain information as to their location.

The 1857 Dred Scott Supreme Court ruling is a common argument used by liberals to demonize state rights advocates. As an avid supporter of states’ rights, liberals argue that conservatives must think the Dred Scott ruling was correct. My argument to liberals is to think about how the rights of slaves would have changed had the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Dred Scott. It is highly likely that the freedom of slaves and the drafting of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments would have been delayed. In other words, a favorable ruling for Dred Scott could have changed history for the worse. Why? Because it is debatable as to whether or not Lincoln would have been elected in 1860. Is this the result that liberals or conservatives would have wanted? Of course not, that is why the Dred Scott ruling may not have been morally correct, but in the end; it helped to expedite the desired result.

One key element that helps in making the opposite argument is to embrace adversaries. For instance, as a NY Yankee fan, my favorite baseball player of all time is a Boston Red Sox – Ted Williams. Williams was a thorn in the Yankees back, but in my opinion, he was the greatest hitter of all time and a war hero. My favorite politician growing up in New Jersey was Ed Koch, a Democrat. I found Koch to be a straight shooting politician that spoke his mind and did not sit on the fence. In other words, he was a man of high morals and strong ethics. His policies also brought New York City back from financial bankruptcy. By embracing and respecting adversaries, it is easier to see both sides of a rivalry or an issue. It is easy to debate these issues rationally and therefore, easier to compromise on disagreements. It is also easier for adversaries to listen to your point of view if you understand their prospective.

My Book: Is America Dying? (Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble)


  1. I’m all for finding ways to advance discussion and win over opponents but I think it requires that you trust in the sincerity of your opponent’s arguments, and as you know I have a big problem with liberals/leftists/progressives in this respect. I believe they operate from ulterior motives most of the time, although I’ll grant some of those are subconscious motives like ego gratification. So in general I am not eager to compromise or work on mutual solutions if the purpose is just to give liberals an outlet for “making a difference.” Yeah, I know – I’m a cynic.

    That said, when we have no choice but to compromise, this sounds like a good approach.

  2. I do not think you are cynical. i think you bring up great points. I think my view comes from the fact that I am the only sibling in my family with conservative views which forces me to try to be more "civil" to show I am listening to them and their points.