Logic versus feelings, this is a standard political argument that has raged from time immemorial. You see examples of this on the news all the time, reporters rushing up to victims and asking them how they feel, not what happened or why it happened, but their feelings. You also see it nowadays in press conferences or speeches by politicians. They always have to have a group of “victims” standing behind them to “illustrate” how awful some condition is and how these poor people are being mistreated. Unfortunately, the typical solution of the liberals, who are the ones who tend to play to the emotions, is to throw money at the problem or use some sort of government control to “alleviate” the perceived wrong.
Obviously feelings have their place in our daily lives, but they have been completely overblown in the political arena. Hillary Clinton is famous for her phrase “it’s for the children”. That is her way of hiding any flaws and intimidating opponents of legislation or programs she proposes by making an emotional appeal. Who could be against the children? If you’re against the children, you must be a monster. This type of argument stifles debate and is an Alinsky tactic that casts the opposition as uncaring, evil people, not just people with an opposing viewpoint who might have a better alternative to solving the problem.
What we need today that is sadly lacking in our public discourse is logic and critical thinking. It is not being taught in our schools (sometimes I think on purpose, to dumb down the population). It is been replaced by the feel-good, touchy-feely emotional appeals instead of true problem-solving logic and critical thinking about problems. We have lost at least a generation of children to the “feelings” crowd, and it shows in the poling on various issues today.
When drafting legislation that deals with the entire nation, emotion shouldn’t play a role. The critical test should be, is the legislation constitutional and what are the benefits, ramifications and unintended consequences of passing such legislation. All too often in the recent past emotional appeals have been used as a cover for bad legislation.
A good case in point is Obamacare. The emotional plea was made that we MUST cover all these uninsured people with health insurance. There was no thought given (intentionally) to any fiscal or organizational reasons not to pass this legislation. The proponents screamed that the “system” was broken and only a huge government program could possibly right this perceived wrong. It may be that the healthcare system is broken, but an in depth, non-partisan study should have been done to determine what was wrong with the current system and after that, what should be done by the federal government (if anything) to improve the healthcare system.
Emotional appeals by their nature are perfect for 30 second sound bites, whereas logical arguments usually take longer and require more thought. Catchphrases such as “it’s for the children”, “30 million uninsured”, or “refusal to provide healthcare services” conjure up mental images that are strongly convincing especially for those not paying close attention to the debate. As a nation, we need to start using our God-given intellects and stop using kneejerk emotional reactions to the problems we are confronting. Otherwise the country will continue down the path to more and more government control based on emotional appeals rather than logical reasoning.