The Instigator
biophil
Pro (for)
Winning
21 Points
The Contender
Harlan
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

Polls should not decide whether a President stays in office

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/27/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 740 times Debate No: 4230
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (8)

 

biophil

Pro

I voted for you in the last debate with the same topic as your opponent's arguments were flawed.
However, I think you are still wrong!
The argument why polls should not decide on the presidents retention in office is based on politcal rationale.
Politicians should have time to execute their political program. They should be able to do unpopular things which on the long run might prove to be good for the country. Otherwise we would have problems like the following:
Presidents will have to be populist all the time and "please the masses" which is quite easy (e.g. with tax cuts)however this would run the country to the ground. Taxes are never popular, but they are needed.

No long term plans and restructuring would be possibe (it is hard enough as it is). As transient periods of chaos or high costs are normal in restructuring. However, some of these policies prove to be good for the majority of people after a couple of years.
Harlan

Con

Harlan forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 1
biophil

Pro

I hope you find the time to rebuttal. It was your topic wasn't it?? It would be too bad if this debate would not be continued...
Harlan

Con

I dearly apologize that I missed the deadline on the previous round…

Your argument, to be summarized, is basically that the majority can be "wrong", and that they should not get their way because they will make bad decisions.

The fallacy in your argument is that there is such a thing as right or wrong opinions, or that there is an absolute "good" and "bad". You have the delusion that your own opinion is the right, and contradicting popular opinions are wrong. But I ask: Did you ever stop to think of yourself as part of the masses?

"Good" and "bad" are meaningless terms, but we are forced to act otherwise. Who better than the majority to decide what is good and bad? This is only but the concept of democracy. You tell us that the majority is not always right, but present no alternative method to determining what is right, exempt your own biased opinion.

You misunderstand that I do not instigate that presidents should act completely on the whim of the public, I suggest that they make way for someone who agrees with the majority, when they have very low approval ratings.

And here is something copied and pasted from my previous debate of this topic:

"To not resign in this hypothetical does not arise from any sense of benignity, but from hunger for power, in most cases. To not resign is to openly defy the will of the majority of the United States; it is to oppose the nation to which they vowed to serve. These kinds of politicians to not believe in democracy, they see it as an obstacle that they must overcome to get power. Have these politicians no sense of honor, no sense of duty to the country?

We live in the twenty first century; we can not tolerate power-hungry politicians continuing to stay in power even after it has been made clear that the citizens of the country to which they rule are opposed to their seat in government. This is not representative government, this is despotism."

To sum up…

-It is moot to say that the majority can be wrong, since opinions are relative.

-For politicians to honorably resign does not mean they must make other policies based on this.

-Emperor Harlan
Debate Round No. 2
biophil

Pro

Thank you for answering:
In medias res:

"The fallacy in your argument is that there is such a thing as right or wrong opinions, or that there is an absolute "good" and "bad""

Where do I state this? As a matter of fact I do not.

The idea of representative democracy is that right and wrong, good and bad, CAN be determined by the majority. However, in contrast to a direct democracy (of which a variant is practiced in the country I live in, namely in Switzerland) the people's representatives, in our case the president, have only to be approved by the people once every four years. The idea behind this practice is simply the following. The majority of people do stay with the same opinion throughout many years. Democrats stay democrats, republicans stay republicans. And then however there is a part of the population that swings either way. These swings can be very erratic and flimsy. Those people for a lack of a general ideology often change their mind on the grounds of how they feel the government has treated them lately. These so called swing voters decide the future of governments and countries. However, the problem is, as I stated above that these swing voters would be moved to vote against a president on a week he decides to do something that THEY don't like. But the same voters could change their mind if after a couple of months/years they see that what the president has decided in general does appeal to them and the consequences of the decisions he made which they thought were bad turned out to be not as bad. (This is all assuming that THEY decide what is bad or good, not me). Country leaders can adjust their policies accordingly. (A true master of this was Margaret Thatcher, she always introduced the unpopular stuff in the middle of her term, and by the time the elections came along, she sweetened her regency again). Therefore I repeat the same argument as above. Leaders have to do unpopular things sometimes in order that the country succeeds and prospers on the long run. Voters should have their say once projects are well on their way, and not when they were decided. This is part of political strategy and democracy!
Of course things can turn out the exact opposite: The invasion of Irak was greeted with great enthusiasm as it was decided. Five years later most people agree that this was a grave mistake. Fortunately, come January the nightmare of this presidency will be over. This however does not make my point invalid, the opposite is true: it took a couple of years (for the unfotunately in middle eastern geo-politics uneducated americans )to realize what consequences this decison had.

One more general point I have to make: Philosophers distinguish between wishes and will. Will or as Harry Frankfurt puts it ‘higher-order volitions' is something deliberated that extends for a longer period, whereas (first-order) wishes and desires are more momentary. An extreme example of the two clashing is a drug addict that wants to quit. His will is to get sober but his wish is to inject another load of heroin. If he is weak-willed he will succumb to his wishes. If his will is strong he will get sober.
Two points can be made following this remark: After four years including a year of heightened attention to the president's achievements (i.e. campaigning) the will of the people is asked. They have time to deliberate about what they REALLY want for the next term. This is at least the hope we have in a democracy. Second, when people are polled they know that their opinion has no weight, so they freely can express their WISHES and momentary opinions. There is no feeling of gravitas that accompanies the walk to the booth and placing your vote. So polls express the people's wishes whereas elections express the people's will. And democracy should definitely be about the latter.

This also shows why "It is moot to say that the majority can be wrong, since opinions are relative." is too short-sighted. The relativity of opinions is not challenged in any of these arguments, however, it is not true that I don't think it is wrong that I am lighting a cigarette right now ;-)
Harlan

Con

Harlan forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by CaliBeachgirl 8 years ago
CaliBeachgirl
I don't think it would have made a difference. You didnt' really support your argument. Or at least it wasn't clear.
Plus logicly thinking who says which polls are ligit??
Posted by Harlan 8 years ago
Harlan
Whoops, I just now got the email that I forfieted, sorry. My bad
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Vote Placed by Im_always_right 8 years ago
Im_always_right
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Vote Placed by Harlan 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by oboeman 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by brian_eggleston 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by slayer54321 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by rawbee 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by attrition 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by biophil 8 years ago
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