Mr. Pensador's diary yesterday raises a charge which has been here since this site's inception, certainly as early as the Dean v. (Clark and Kerry) wars, invoked regularly against those who dared believe that Hillary Clinton was the superior nominee for President in 2007-08, and certainly hitting me personally at various times during my long tenure here, especially when I dared espouse the belief that Pennsylvania treasurer Bob Casey Jr., and not an unknown history professor who had never run for public office, was the superior candidate to take on Sen. Rick Santorum in 2006.
And it goes a little something like this:
- My beliefs are truly progressive, pure, and correct.
- Someone else here has beliefs which I believe are less progressive than mine.
- No matter how awesome my explanation of my beliefs is, not everyone agrees with me.
- But I'm so right, and any rational person can see that!
- Therefore, the people with whom I'm arguing are not engaging in good faith.
- And that means someone is paying them to be here and thwart my plans.
So let me say again what I did on March 1, 2007, which is as true for policy disagreement as it is for candidate disagreement:
I return to the site proviso that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and that alleging bad faith on behalf of other users is such an extraordinary claim. Not only is it often unverifable (and alleged without basis), but it turns the conversation into one more about ourselves than it is about the candidates. Moreover, y'know, it is possible for one to support a relatively unpopular candidate here for authentic, noble reasons....If you're frustrated because someone keeps disagreeing with you, stop engaging with that user. And if you find yourself regularly drawn into disagreements with diarists who are constantly wrong on the same issues, over and over again ... decide whether it's time to just let them have their little corner of the Internet in which they can just stand their in their wrongness and be wrong, rather than futilely try to persuade them of same. The "rox/sux" battle will never be "won" here—you do know that, right?
In the meantime, just explain why the poster is wrong on the merits. It's more fun and more productive explain why someone's views are wrong, rather than arguing why someone holds the wrong views.
You're not going to win every fight online, and at best (as I see it) most of what you're actually accomplishing is in persuading the observers, not the people with whom you're directly disagreeing. And that's fine and good and sometimes necessary. Sometimes, especially when responding to new claims or developments.
At the end of the day, though, our battles aren't won here. They're won in the political arena, whether through legislative and other forms of public advocacy, and elections. We can accomplish a lot more by focusing on our real opponents, who are outside this space, and not on internal turf wars with folks with whom, in truth, we're likely in agreement on 80%+ of what matters.
Yes, it can be fun when you're a kid to hit one of those inflatable clown punching bags, and have it come up again, and you hit it over and over again and it keeps coming back for more. But after ten minutes, it gets tiresome, and kids move onto other things. None of us, here, are kids anymore.
Whatever your causes are, consider ways to use your time on this site as a way of winning those fights, rather than just fighting them, or standing in the way of others whose priorities are different from yours. We all have a country (and world) that still needs a lot of fixing, and this site (and the Internet) is large enough to encompass all our causes.