The Instigator
dustinbruce91
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Chthonian
Con (against)
Winning
23 Points

Resolved: US Politics has become useless.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/24/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,559 times Debate No: 18449
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
Votes (5)

 

dustinbruce91

Pro

First, to define:

politics is defined by Merriam-Webster as: competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership (as in a government)

secondly, the operative word, useless: Useless insofar as the original intended purpose of guiding public policy to the better of society

The foundation of the affirmative argument is that politics no longer meets the primary definition of the original purpose, of guiding policy to the betterment of human society.

For examples, the affirmative need look no further then the following examples:

Economy: The policy of economics in the realm of politics is useless insofar as it furthers the benefit of only one portion of society, specifically the upper-class. Tax bases are the primary source for this example, since it is common knowledge and accepted that the greatest source of tax revenue is the middle class, secondly the poor. The rich retain a majority of wealth in the US

Environment: even without proper sources, it is logically evident that, because oil companies control most of the wealth, no proper alternative energy gains even a fraction of the funding and tax breaks that oil gains.

The affirmative retains the right to provide further examples, and to use further proof to support previous examples. To do so is to maintain fairness, as unless it is questioned, providing extensive evidence is useless until the point of contention.

Any points of clarification are open
Chthonian

Con

I would like to first thank Pro for establishing this very relevant and important debate. I am looking forward to a very spirited and useful political discussion.

To begin, I would like to point out that the Merriam-Webster dictionary has several entries for the word ‘politics' (http://www.merriam-webster.com...). The reason is because the word ‘politics' encompasses many diverse aspects of society and can't be easily defined by just one definition. I find it rather suspect that Pro chose one particular definition; one that ostensibly gives Pro an advantage in this debate since Pro only has to argue the uselessness of competing ideas and factions as it pertains to Pro's inexplicit examples of economics and the environment.

Second, Pro has posited that the original intent of politics is to guide "public policy for the betterment of society". But who is the final arbiter of what is good for society? What metric can be provided to categorical demonstrate that a public policy is not only bad for society but also misguided? And whose original intent are we discussing?

Third, my understanding of Pro's position is that politics, as defined by the competition of competing ideas and factions, no longer satisfies the function of guiding public policy. Pro cites two inchoate unsubstantiated examples: economics and the environment. I think to better establish a point-counterpoint arrangement Pro has to establish a better working definition of both economics and environment with more concrete examples and links to independently verify any given claim. Also, nothing is logical evident without valid premises and I will not accept a claim as ‘common knowledge' without a thorough explanation for how one can come to the same conclusion.

Understandably, all debates must be argued within the framework and context of the question or claim being discussed. In this case, the question of whether US politics has become useless is far too vague and subjective to effectively address; further clarifications and definitions are necessary in order for this debate to proceed.

I am eagerly awaiting my opponent's thoughtful response.
Debate Round No. 1
dustinbruce91

Pro

dustinbruce91 forfeited this round.
Chthonian

Con

Unfortunately, my opponent has chosen to forfeit round 2 instead of using it to better clarify his position. I will, however, continue my argument in hopes of fomenting further discussion.

What I will do this round is declaratively state the assumptions I am making regarding Pro's position and wherever possible better define vague concepts. Further, I will better establish my perspective on the matter.

The assumptions I making about Pro's argument are as follows:
1. Pro chose the words "politics ‘has become' useless", which would suggest that politics has guided public policy well in the past, but only recently has become useless.
2. Politics, according to Pro, is limited to the " competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership (as in a government)" The assumption here is that the competition is between those within government. I would like to extend this definition to include all those involved in the political process, which includes--but is not limited to--voters, corporations, political parties, political action committees, lobbyists, etc. The point is that all these groups are part and parcel to the health of our democracy.
3. It seems that Pro has broken down the US society into three neatly packaged categories: the poor, the middle class, and the upper class. The assumption I am making is that Pro is referring to just economic class and as such I will use the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy's definition of middle class to include those families making between 20-100K middle class (http://www.pbs.org...), thus the poor are below 20k and the upper class are above 100K.

The crux of Pro's position is that current competing political ideas and factions are misguiding public policy, which is negatively affecting society. My opponent has put forth two examples that he believes are self-evident. The first example was regarding economic policy. The evidence presented was "common knowledge" that the middle class and the poor provide a larger pool of tax revenue that upper class. This is a bit of a numbers game since a large majority of Americans fall into the middle class. Moreover, tax data is generally presented as a central tendency value (i.e., averages) or puts folks into classification of income distributions (i.e., quintiles), which can be misleading because it fails to highlight the nuances of actual tax liabilities across various income levels (http://www.house.gov...) The other example Pro uses is the environment. My opponent's proof is that the oil industry controls wealth. I would content that no one industry controls wealth and the majority of billionaires come from a way array of businesses (http://www.woopidoo.com...).

In the round one, I ask my opponent a series of questions, which were never answered. To be sure, there are no easy answers to these questions, but how one chooses to address them speaks volumes about their perception regarding the claim we are debating.

The first question was: "who is the final arbiter of what is good for society". From my perspective, the final arbiter is ‘We, the People'. Collectively, if ‘We, the People' feel that the policies that have been promulgated by our publicly elected officials are detrimental to our society-- whether domestically or internationally--we vote in new individuals or in some cases a new party in which to control government.

The second question I posed was: "What metric can be provided to categorically demonstrate that a public policy is not only bad for society but also misguided?" One metric that can specifically gauge this question would be a scientific poll. I have yet to find any legitimate poll probing whether a public policy is both misguided and bad for society. However, we can use a larger more comprehensive metric to decide whether our economic public policies are bad for society. The metric that I am referring is termed economic freedom, where the US is ranked 9th out of 92 countries, with a freedom score of 77.8 and the highest being 89.7 (http://www.heritage.org...). Economic freedom is essentially an indicator of how free individuals are to control their wealth. Moreover, economic freedom is directly related to positive social and economic values, which include per capita income and economic growth rate (http://en.wikipedia.org...). So, we all have the freedom to create wealth. But the undeniable fact of living in a Capitalist society is that wealth creates more wealth. In other words, if you have more disposable income—whether earned through labor, capital gains, tax credits, etc.-- you have more to invest to create more wealth. That is why wealthy people tend to stay wealthy and more easily ride out economic downturns.

The third question I posed was involving who's original intent or purpose of politics are we discussing. My assumption is that Pro is referring to the US Founding Fathers. My opponent suggested that the original purpose of politics is to guide public policy. First off, I don't think the US Founding Fathers defined an "original purpose" for politics. Second, they established a tradition of compromised; the debates of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 lead to the great Connecticut Compromise that created the basis for our legislative structure and representation. The Founders must have known that public policy would be hammer out on the floor of Congress they created. It should be noted that the economic data that Congress uses to debate and the public uses to formulate opinions, which guides public policy decisions, comes from the non-partisan Congressional Budget office (http://www.cbo.gov...)

Politics guides every facet of public life. Competing ideas and factions is what makes the US democracy vibrant. It guarantees that we have constant pressure on social and economic issues to ensure that public policy is beneficial for all and not misguided.
Debate Round No. 2
dustinbruce91

Pro

dustinbruce91 forfeited this round.
Chthonian

Con

It appears that the instigator of this debate is no longer interested in participating in it. For the sake of the intellectual exercise, I will continue.

Thus far I have demonstrated the weakness of my opponent's argument by pointing out that Pro's examples do not support his claim. I have further expanded on the definition of politics to include multiple groups, which I will further expound upon below. Moreover, I have tried to give the audience a sense of my perspective on how I view and approach political discussions as they pertain to guiding public policy.

Before I get into providing evidence for why politics is still useful in the US --for guiding public policy, I think it is important to understand that the US is a de facto political duopoly (1) with a winner takes all voting structure. This is evident at all levels of government. This duopoly creates a divisive political environment often times with votes falling along ideological political lines. But this in and of itself doesn't preclude the possibility that a public policy is properly debated or that a compromise can be reached.

In round 1, Pro established that politics is competition within government. In round 2, I extended that definition to include the voting public, among others. The reason was because it is the voting public that elects government officials (i.e., politicians) who ultimately control and decided which public policies are to be discussed. So, collectively, if the voting public doesn't approve the approach an administration is taking or the priorities the majority in power are putting forth, these elected officials will ultimately be judge accordingly. But more importantly, the voting public can and do provide pressure on politicians that help keep important issues in the spotlight such as seen in current Wall Street protests (2).

On the level federal level, states often provide important political pressure to set the tone of a particular issue such as seen as in the fracking debate (3). Even the President of the United States can use his position as a bully pulpit to guarantee important policies are discussed and weighed in on as is evidenced by the most recent Obama jobs bill proposal (4). Pressure from the states and the Oval Office ensure that voters are aware of the issues and positions regarding the particular policy being addressed.

In addition to the pressure from the voting public, the states and the federal Executive Office, political action committees (PACs) can finance campaigns or political ads to raise awareness of an issue that they are supporting on behalf of the sector they represent (5). The Supreme Court has established a legal precedence that money is equivalent to speech. As consequence, folks can use money or rather the purchasing power of money through campaign ads and political donations to help highlight an issue or support their preferred candidate--who presumably has a similar political worldview for what is right for society, and thus support similar public policy positions.

The US constitution affords both its citizens and corporations the inalienable right to be actively involved in the democratic political process that guides public policy and ultimate sculpts our society. The structure of the system demands compromise. Often times, compromise leads to a less-than-desirable outcome for those who have steadfast convictions. To further muddy the waters, American politicians often times have diametrically opposite ideas for not only how they perceive a problem but also how to address it appropriately. Public policy decision are often made with the best intentions but can have unintended results such is the case with the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has become a contentious issue. In the end, the American system of politics is highly fallible but not useless. It leads to a stabilize society—at least domestically, and affords people the right to speak publicly for or against those issues that directly affect the public weal.

References:
1)http://en.wikipedia.org...
2)http://occupywallst.org...
3)http://www.huffingtonpost.com...
4)http://abcnews.go.com...
5)http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk...
Debate Round No. 3
dustinbruce91

Pro

dustinbruce91 forfeited this round.
Chthonian

Con

It is beyond obvious that this debate is useless. The instigator has forfeited 3 rounds and thus there have been no rebuttals to my argument. It is clear that Pro has a strong opinion on this matter, but from what he has written I am unable to fully understand how Pro has formed his position.

There are many aspects of the claim "US politics has become useless" that haven't been addressed in this debate, which is partly due to my intellectual inabilities and partly due to my political prejudices that shape my perspective. But without a critical assessment of my evidence and reasoning, it is pointless to continue.
Debate Round No. 4
dustinbruce91

Pro

dustinbruce91 forfeited this round.
Chthonian

Con

I have cogently established my argument and Pro's examples do not prove enough evidence to affirm the claim that "US politics has become useless".

Vote con.
Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Chthonian 5 years ago
Chthonian
Thanks for the advice, Double_R. I am new to the site and wanted to be sure that I fulfill my obligation as a participant.
Cheers!
Posted by Double_R 5 years ago
Double_R
Con, Pro forfeited. No need to keep going.
Posted by dustinbruce91 5 years ago
dustinbruce91
If I were untrained in the art of debate, as a successful high school and college debater, i think yes, this could degenerate into something less then purposeful. However, to say something is is "an excuse to argue" because it is "immensely subjective" ignores the primary purpose of debate as a whole. If we only debated things that were concrete and objective, there would really be no debate and this site would seem significantly more like Yahoo! Answers. The point of defining something as subjectively as possible is to create inherent burdens for anyone to prove either side successfully by defining what society is, whether US has duties beyond it's borders, who state's have duties to etc etc.
Posted by larztheloser 5 years ago
larztheloser
"to the better of society" - sounds immensely subjective and broad to me. Potentially this could cover every single social, IR, economic and historical issue that exists, and probably a fair few technological issues too. Looks like this debate is an excuse to argue about everything, and will thus degenerate into examples and counter-examples, making voting on the strength of "arguments" impossible (an example is not an argument). To me that kind-of defeats the purpose of a debate.

By the way, pro, you should probably define who is "human society" - do you mean just the US, or just some people in the US (including those on death row?), or all humans living in societies, or also hermits? Your arguments seem US-centric but surely the US has duties beyond their own borders as well? Who exactly a state has a duty to is a complex question that this debate cannot progress without.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Double_R 5 years ago
Double_R
dustinbruce91ChthonianTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: I don't like Pros suit (or is that a Tux?)
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
dustinbruce91ChthonianTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con has a cool robot picture.
Vote Placed by seraine 5 years ago
seraine
dustinbruce91ChthonianTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit...
Vote Placed by kohai 5 years ago
kohai
dustinbruce91ChthonianTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Ff
Vote Placed by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
dustinbruce91ChthonianTied
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Reasons for voting decision: f