Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Conversation: Confrontation in Politics

A very brief post, because I think I've touched on this subject enough that I can safely touch on it again without having to go through the superstructure of my thinking publicly again--my posts are long enough and my current goal is to make my ideas more succinct.

The video below is a video of Barack Obama, my candidate for President, at a town-hall meeting. I won't go into the various whys or wherefores of my backing of Obama over McCain--which is very sad to me, because in earlier days of a more independent McCain I said that if he was the candidate of the Republican Party I would seriously consider voting for him.

I am more interested, as you might guess, in the quality of the conversation between Obama and the heckler in this video. In brief:

  • "You'll get a chance to answer [sic] your questions but you don't want to disrupt the whole meeting" ---- namely, that disagreement of content of a conversation does not need to manifest in rejection of form.
  • "All you gotta do is be courteous, that's all." Respect. Clearly.
  • His return to speaking to the young man. It would have been shameful if he hadn't returned to ask the question, but it is important nonetheless.
  • "I made a promise to you but also that means I want you to give your mic back after you ask your question or make your comment." ---- A statement of the responsibility of both sides. Obama will give legitimacy to the question if the heckler will give legitimacy to the answer.
  • Audience response: Obama does not leverage the sympathetic audience against the heckler; rather, he attempts to restrain the audience, at one point saying "Hold on a second, everybody, I want everybody to be respectful, that's why we're having a townhall meeting. This is democracy at work. Now he asked a legitimate question, so I want to give him an answer." (Emphasis mine).
  • The Kicker: "Now, I may not have spoken out the way you would have wanted me to speak out, which is fine, because ... that doesn't mean that I'm always going to satisfy the way you guys want these issues framed, which gives you the option of voting for somebody else, it gives you the option of running for office yourself. Those are all options, but the one thing that I think is important is that we're respectful towards each other, and...the only way we're going to solve our problems in our country, is if all of us come together..."

The conversation is sustained by new voices, provided those voices are respectful. The key, which Obama returns to and is rather the point of my discussions on conversation, is respect of opinions.

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