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Could a president be elected...

Wallstreetatheist
Posts: 7,132
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7/1/2013 2:10:36 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
...if he or she were to talk about how government actually works instead of using vague metaphors and language?
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lewis20
Posts: 5,093
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7/1/2013 2:39:38 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I'd give 50:1 odds it's not possible.
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DetectableNinja
Posts: 6,043
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7/1/2013 2:40:02 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Of course not.

Whether that actually is a bad thing or not is up for debate, I'd say.
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Poetaster
Posts: 587
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7/1/2013 2:44:20 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
But the use of vague language is how the government works...to mention is to use.
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Wnope
Posts: 6,924
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7/1/2013 2:48:12 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/1/2013 2:39:38 PM, lewis20 wrote:
I'd give 50:1 odds it's not possible.

You may have just exploded the heads of several mathematicians.
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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7/1/2013 2:51:32 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/1/2013 2:40:02 PM, DetectableNinja wrote:
Of course not.

Whether that actually is a bad thing or not is up for debate, I'd say.

Of course it's a bad thing; what's there to debate? They can't be entranced by rhetoric every election season and start whining when they get what they voted for.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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7/1/2013 3:45:38 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/1/2013 2:10:36 PM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
...if he or she were to talk about how government actually works instead of using vague metaphors and language?

Watch this video:

That is an incredibly short debate compared to most done in a very small part of our bill drafting in the United Kingdom about an issue on the average level of interest.

This is how government actually works instead of using "vague metaphors and [vague] language". We use metaphor and symbolism in order to present more clearly our ideas and thoughts we try to process. In the vast majority of cases, you are complaining at the fact that people use literary techniques which make ideas clearer.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

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000ike
Posts: 11,196
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7/1/2013 3:59:11 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/1/2013 3:45:38 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
At 7/1/2013 2:10:36 PM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
...if he or she were to talk about how government actually works instead of using vague metaphors and language?

Watch this video:



That is an incredibly short debate compared to most done in a very small part of our bill drafting in the United Kingdom about an issue on the average level of interest.

This is how government actually works instead of using "vague metaphors and [vague] language". We use metaphor and symbolism in order to present more clearly our ideas and thoughts we try to process. In the vast majority of cases, you are complaining at the fact that people use literary techniques which make ideas clearer.

In the UK, probably, in America, I doubt it.

On a related note, have you ever read Orwell's "Politics and the English Language"?
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
YYW
Posts: 36,296
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7/1/2013 4:02:29 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/1/2013 2:10:36 PM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
...if he or she were to talk about how government actually works instead of using vague metaphors and language?

I would like to think so. The problem is that soundbites are what get attention, rather than substantive analysis/discussion.
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Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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7/1/2013 5:38:12 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/1/2013 3:59:11 PM, 000ike wrote:
At 7/1/2013 3:45:38 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
At 7/1/2013 2:10:36 PM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
...if he or she were to talk about how government actually works instead of using vague metaphors and language?

Watch this video:



That is an incredibly short debate compared to most done in a very small part of our bill drafting in the United Kingdom about an issue on the average level of interest.

This is how government actually works instead of using "vague metaphors and [vague] language". We use metaphor and symbolism in order to present more clearly our ideas and thoughts we try to process. In the vast majority of cases, you are complaining at the fact that people use literary techniques which make ideas clearer.

In the UK, probably, in America, I doubt it.

On a related note, have you ever read Orwell's "Politics and the English Language"?

I've read most of Orwell's writings on how to use the English language, including this one, yes. I very much agree with his evaluation that we need to be more human, more clear, and more concise with what we say.

However, like all things, his analysis is dated. In fact, I'd say he had got it wrong in the outset: instead of "the fight against Bad English" was on the out, not on the way in, at 1945. The rise of socialism in the UK (let's ignore the bad connotations of the word "socialism" for a moment, shall we?) led to a 'dumbing down' of the English language. Compare for example Mill's writings on Utilitarianism with Singer (one of my current personal interests, though more generally the development of utilitarianism). The verbosity and use of language by Mill is clearly grandiose for his audience: the upper class philosopher at home on the armchair - or in the university library. It is a product of his time.

However, socialism made the working class the largest and most important political unit in society (in ways Manchesterism could only dream). Since the First World War, Marxism came to the United Kingdom, but British socialism in the form of the Fabians and labour then kicked off, as well as the analytic tradition in the UK (which I am unfairly downplaying), which made language simpler and easier to access.

For example, "All the "best people" from the gentlemen's clubs, and all the frantic fascist captains, united in common hatred of Socialism and bestial horror at the rising tide of the mass revolutionary movement, have turned to acts of provocation, to foul incendiarism, to medieval legends of poisoned wells, to legalize their own destruction of proletarian organizations, and rouse the agitated petty-bourgeoise to chauvinistic fervor on behalf of the fight against the revolutionary way out of the crisis." from his essay quoting a communist pamphlet will never be said today by a socialist, marxist, or writer of any kind except to quote old material. Terry Eagleton, a strong advocate and writer for communism, never comes close to this style.

Why? People are now culturally democratic, in short. People want to understand, want to be involved in forming policy, want to have their voice spoken. We no longer want a leader to act for our own good, but a leader to tell us what is our options, what are their effects, what he recommends, and then let us decide.

Now, look at modern politicians. Politicians will use phrases like "y'know" and "Look," to begin or end their sentences. They will no longer have low-angle shots of them but shots head-on to make them equal to us. These devices are extremely important and almost entirely responsible for forming our opinions. The use of correct voice, tone, form and gesture makes the modern politicians. As Orwell predicted, and as was the crux of his speech: political prose ought to be simple and easy to understand and access. And currently it is. To be more accessible is to have an unacceptable tradeoff of intelligence and facts.

There are many analyses of modern politicians available, so I won't keep your time by discussing them, but I will bring up a recent debate of mine. I was against a great speaker on the issue of whether we ought to be spending more money on council housing. He was against, I was for. He spoke with passion, using the political prose not on the level Orwell criticised, but that of, say, the Maoists (again, I'm avoiding all "evil" connotations; I refer to the ability the leaders had to craft powerful rhetoric that made the speakers slightly accessible, but almost divine, almost omniscient, undeniably right in their speech). I sat there and I knew I had a seven minute speech to deliver, and in fairness I usually go down a similar line, as common for debaters. I knew if I did, though, I'd lose.

So, what did I do? I stood up, and went up to the microphone podium, a light oak colour, and stood in front of an audience of around 8, 9 dozen people. I put my notes down, and I tried to memorise the picture of my flow (how my argument would run). Then I took the black microphone from its stand, pulling the wire through the grip and held it in my hand. Of course, this perplexed the judges as it was unorthodox to say the least. I moved off towards the edge of the stage, then just chatted, something along the lines of:

"I'd just like to take the moment to say 'Hello'! So... hello." (Not the strongest start, but a start!) I then sat down at the edge of the stage, about a foot away from the audience. "I just want to take a moment to talk about the case of Jillian." And I went through a case study on how Jillian, a local lass, lived in a council flat for the last five years, constantly fighting for a job and employment, but not being able to get one for any period of time because she had no connections, no family to call to as we do for help or even advice, not being lucky enough to get a good education. I then went to say how she was just about to get through her 6 month milestone working locally at a shop before the council telling her that her flat has been sold, and she is now being forced to move. She cannot buy a flat, nor will the council give her a flat, so she's moving up north to Sunderland to start afresh.

I then discussed another case study, all the while now weaving in my facts. I almost decided for "audience participation", but I decided that would be pushing it too much. Bearing in mind the scoring is semi-relative, my opponent scored a 92 (which is usually country-performance level). I got an 87. I unfortunately lost, but by such a small margin proved something to me: being human is extremely important in all of these things.

So, to go back to the original point: yes, I've read Orwell's work. And he is entirely right that we need to be more human, more clear, and more concise with what we say when debating and discussing issues. However, we also need to remember that the most effective rhetorical speeches of modern times are not speeches anymore, but organic discussions people have to you, the reader, over an issue. Many times, they are not organic but planned out to go in a certain way, but they are well crafted duologues now, not monologues.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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7/1/2013 5:47:47 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Ed Miliband, though still needs to brush up on his debating skills (he's becoming too much like Cameron, and though he's a great debater in his own right, you cannot become the same as the person you're trying to oppose!) but his speech here is a great testament to the point of becoming human. I'd recommend listening to the first minute before reading the next, as I am going to write down what he says. Try and put into words the feelings you have just from listening to that in your mind after you've watched it, without going in being purposefully cynical.

Just to write the first minute:

"Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you so much, it's great to be in Labour Manchester! (Claps) It's great to be back in Labour Manchester, because two years ago I was elected the leader of this party. (Claps) I'm older... I feel a lot older actually (laughs), I am wiser, but I am prouder than ever to be the leader of the Labour Party.

You may have noticed that doing this job, you get called a lot of names. Some of them nice, some of them not so nice. Let me tell you my favourite. It was when Mitt Romney came to Britain and called me: "Mr Leader". I don't know about you, but I think it has a certain ring to it! Mitt, Mitt, thanks a lot for that."

It continues in this tone for a good part of the hour, all the while elucidating policy. However, he creates instant rapport with us as the listener, confiding in us ("Let me tell you") for example. There are points that sound similar to British comedians in how they introduce themselves so effectively and build rapport with the audience (A lot of speakers can learn from the likes of Al Murray and Michael McIntyre, if I may say so myself). Politics has changed to the casual tone. I wonder where it's going next...
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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7/1/2013 5:49:24 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Also, his anecdote directly after the section I posted introduces how again to build rapport.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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7/1/2013 5:50:30 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
"I want to tell you who I am, what I believe, and why I have a firm conviction in what I believe in."
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...