As we continue to roll through the election season, political debate seems to have devolved into the mere shouting of talking points, playing of sound bites, and worst of all, posting of mindless internet memes on social media sites. In an effort to change up the dynamic a bit, I thought I would challenge my friends on both sides of the aisle with a chance to defend some of their positions that I find a little contradictory, difficult to understand, or just plain nutso. Considering that I come from a direction that both sides tend to consider equally insane and out of touch, I think that makes me a reasonably fair moderator in that regard.
So, without further ado, I present my list of questions, in no particular order. I have alternated them, one for each party, although anyone may feel free to jump in and defend any position. I only have two rules. The first is that you can only initiate a comment string with an explanatory comment. Simply adding “yeah, that makes no sense!” doesn’t enhance the discussion. The second is that replies to comments be respectful or they will be deleted. Debate is encouraged, trolling is not. I have a banhammer and I’m not afraid to use it. Now, let the games begin!
1. Republicans: Explain to me how gay marriage is in fact a danger to traditional marriage. Cite specific examples without referring to religion.
2. Democrats: Show me specific studies that prove the idea that banning guns (or significantly restricting gun ownership) actually makes people more safe. Account for crime data for Chicago and Washington, D.C. vs. similar sized cities while they had gun bans in place. Also account for countries that have more restrictive gun laws and higher rates of gun violence than the United States (I can cite sources if needed).
3. Republicans: Explain how drug prohibition, specifically marijuana prohibition, makes us safer than the alternative. For bonus points, justify the cost of enforcing the drug war while cutting spending on schools, health care, and space exploration.
4. Democrats: Explain why people have a right to free health care but don’t have a right to purchase a 32 oz soda or be given baby formula when they have a new child.
5. Republicans: Why is it acceptable to force people to use American labor by preventing immigrants from working in this country regardless of their status, but unacceptable to force them to use union labor?
6. Democrats: Why is it acceptable to force people to join unions in order to work in their chosen field but unacceptable to deport illegal aliens working in America unlawfully?
7. Republicans: Why is it unacceptable to pass a major new healthcare entitlement when you’re a Democratic president (the Affordable Care Act), but it’s perfectly acceptable to do so when you’re a Republican president (the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act)?
8. Democrats: Why is racial profiling bad but socio-economic profiling good?
9. Republicans: Are you seriously still denying man-made (or at least man-contributed to) global warming? Seriously? No, seriously?
10. Democrats: Conceding that global warming exists, are you really willing to give up all the trappings of civilization, including homes, food, clothes, and your iPhone in exchange for reducing the temperature in the atmosphere by 10 degrees Celsius by the end of the century? If not, what compromises are you prepared to make, and where do you draw the line?
11. Republicans: Why is it that when poor people try to get more money for social programs you refer to it as “class warfare”, but when rich people try to get tax cuts you refer to it as “the free market in action”?
12. Democrats: Assuming you favor progressive taxation, and in particular a strong tax hike on “the wealthy”, please tell me how much of your personal time and money (percentages please, not raw numbers) you have spent helping people who are not as well off as you are, unless you are certain there is nobody in the world who is worse off than you. Alternatively, cite every occasion in which you have NOT taken a tax deduction to which you were entitled.
13. Republicans: Make an honest effort to set aside your preconceived notions and talking points. Now spend ten minutes seriously imagining America thirty to forty years from now, with special attention being paid to the people who will be working in and running the place. Once you complete this exercise, please list any and all national priorities that should come before education.
14. Democrats: Make an honest effort to set aside your preconceived notions and talking points. Now spend ten minutes seriously remembering World War II, the Cold War, and 9/11, with special attention being paid to the loss of life and the horrors perpetrated by our enemies in those conflicts. Once you complete this exercise, please list any and all national priorities that should come before national defense.
Bonus question for either side: Explain to me why your restrictions on individual freedom are good while your opponent’s restrictions on individual freedom are bad. Use 5,000 words or less.