Rescuing Ourselves from the Argument Culture

This article appeared in Anthropology News.

Politics as combat. Maitree Laipitaksin / 123rf.comAlthough many hoped Trump’s use of social media to wage ad hominem attacks would cease once he took office, now even former Republican supporters, like Senator Bob Corker, conclude that Trump has “proven himself unable to rise to the occasion.” Corker’s Republican colleague, Senator Jeff Flake, took to the senate floor to give his own impassioned speech in which he denounced “the present coarseness of our national dialogue with the tone set up at the top.” Flake pointed to Trump’s “reckless provocations” and “degradation of our politics,” calling on his colleagues to “never regard as normal” the “personal attacks” and “flagrant disregard for truth and decency” that has come to mark “our current politics.” To extricate ourselves from the current situation, we must recognize that Trump is as much a symptom as a cause of our current politics, and we must replace our notion of argument as combat with the notion of argument as dialogue. 

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