Posted by languageandgrammar on September 6, 2008
There are two aspects of communication—speaking and listening. The blog focuses mainly on the speaking part, of course, but I’ll look at the listening part today since it’s just as important.
The Democratic and Republican conventions have come and gone (please hold your applause), but the most intense part of the long (isn’t it about two years long now?) presidential campaign is just beginning. From now through Election Day in November, it will be a non-stop battle for votes, and one of the most important responsibilities of potential voters is to listen to (and making judgments about) what is being said rather than accepting it at face value. (I heard it on the tv, so it must be true.)
We’re in a society in which every negative political comment is viewed as a political attack, but that generalization often leads to an uninformed group of registered voters. As voters (I’m a registered Independent, for the record), we need to be able to discern an accurate negative criticism from a lie. Both are negative, but the accurate criticism has validity. As long as it’s accurate, a voter can then decide—based on facts—whether the criticism is important enough to influence his or her decision.
The examples I’m about to give are not the point of the blog (although I’ll be accused of being partisan), but they are one example of each. Obama stated that McCain voted with Bush over 90% of the time, and that’s often considered a negative statement about McCain because of Bush’s low popularity rating; however, it’s an accurate statement. Since it’s accurate, the potential voter can then fairly decide whether that is of concern to him or her.
On the other hand, the McCain campaign’s insistence that Obama’s proposal will result in higher taxes is, if not a lie, a distortion of the truth since Obama promised in his speech to give 95% of Americans a tax decrease. He will increase taxes for the richest 5% and close tax loopholes for businesses, but to generally label Obama as proposing a tax increase is not accurate.
Both statements are likely to be called political attacks; however, one is accurate, and the other is not. The candidates aren’t going to tell you which are accurate, and the media may or may not tell you which are accurate. You, though, can decide for yourself–and listening and judging are important parts of communication.
Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever;
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