Preparing for Popular Opinion

Posted: March 23, 2017 in Blog
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I was in elementary school when Reagan and Carter were running for President.  I recall an interesting assignment where we were asked for volunteers to act as the respective candidates and then engage in a mock debate based on one of the actual debates.  In retrospect, that seems like pretty heavy stuff for elementary school kids, but I thought it was great.  I volunteered, of course, and I got Reagan.  I spent that evening watching the debate, having little clue and even less context as to what all of this was, but I took notes, furiously.

The next day was a blowout.  The poor girl who was standing in for Carter had not really taken the assignment seriously.  This, of course, did not prove to be a reasonable representation of the debate (though some may argue otherwise), and I won because of my preparedness.  I do not recall the reason for the exercise, but the way it was conducted does provide a good lesson.  Had we both come prepared, it would have been much more exciting.

Flash forward to another debate I had.  This time, it was in High School, and it was a legitimate debate in Speech class.  This was the time when Texas was finally giving in and raising the drinking age from nineteen to twenty-one.  We decided to have a debate on it, and I was on the team that was against the raise.

Being the type to like to be prepared, I did a lot of research.  I will admit, I even found some “evidence” that I knew was a bit manipulative, but I planned to pitch it a certain way so as to advance my team’s agenda.  If pushed, I even had spins and escape plans.  (Maybe I should have gone into politics, but I digress).

It was another blowout.  I did most of the talking, as my teammates lacked the confidence and preparedness to step up.  The other team fumbled and kept getting backed into corners.  When it was all done, the judges (our teacher and two other students) gave their verdicts … and we lost.

The teacher voted for us, but the two students voted for the other team.  The teacher got up and talked it all out, basically saying that our team had destroyed the other.  When pressed, both kids said they voted as they did because they supported raising the drinking age.  My teacher managed to not facepalm and explained that the judges were to vote purely based on the evidence presented, which she had instructed prior to the whole thing starting.

Still, another lesson.  You can be prepared and present all the evidence you want, and sometimes opinion and belief will outweigh anything else, no matter what.  With humans, dogma sometimes has more value than verified facts.

Personally, I believe dogma ‘won’ both of those debates.

As always, thank you for visiting and reading.  Please feel free to weigh in with any comments you have.  My second novel was recently released, so if you enjoy my writings, please consider buying, reading, and leaving a review.  It would be much appreciated.  Thank you!

Sword of the Butterfly – print edition
Sword of the Butterfly – Kindle edition

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