A father and son were talking while hunting. The son asked, “Dad, is it better to be right or to win the argument?” His father responded that it was better to be right. The son then asked, “Dad, is it better to be right or to be believed?” His father again replied that it was better to be right. Finally, the son asked, “Is it better to be right or to be popular?” Once again, the father answered, “right.” The son thought for a minute and then asked, “Dad, if being right is so great, then why do Democrats win so many elections?”
That is just a bit of humor, but it hints at a very real problem. Because we have a representative government and hold elections, the popular opinion often wins. Sometimes that opinion is popular because too many people believed inaccurate information or because someone was more interested in winning an argument than finding the truth. This sometimes causes our courts to fail to dispense justice. The guilty can be acquitted and the innocent found guilty because sometimes a trial is all about winning your argument, being believable, or being likeable. Elections are the same. Politicians try to win their arguments by any means. They are more concerned with being believed than being right. They often embrace popular opinions just because they are popular. They will even claim to currently support something that they previously fought against. They don’t bother to explain their change of position; they just deny ever having another opinion. Although my joke was politically slanted to amuse the majority-Republican readership of The Expositor, the truth is that this behavior is not limited to a single party. Some popular Republican positions can be just as wrong as some popular Democratic positions. I fight so hard against blind acceptance of any position based solely on the political party advancing it for this very reason.
I was recently accused of telling my readers to, “think for yourself,” and then telling them what they should think. Some readers seem to think that because I have and express my opinions, that I want everyone to follow or agree with me. I hope that my writing might cause readers to consider things that they might not have thought about before, or that they might see some things from a different perspective. I hope that my opinions are right, but I know that I am far from perfect. I read and listen to people who disagree with me on a regular basis. Sometimes my opinions are changed and sometimes they are strengthened. If you choose to believe without proof, accept evidence without skepticism, or decide that what is popular must be what is right, then there is no need to engage you in debate. An atheist will never convince a true believer, and I will never convince my teen-daughter that jeans with holes in them are just a way for clothing manufacturers to ensure that you will have to replace them sooner. If you want to believe that I have any other goal beyond advancing civil discussion and freedom of thought, then I will probably never convince you. If you believe I am trying to push a political candidate or party, then you haven’t been reading what I have been writing. I am me. Thankfully, there is only one of me. The world couldn’t withstand multiples of me. I want you to be you. I often disagree with my friend, Troy Smith. Imagine I had a wand that would make Troy instantly agree with every opinion I expressed. First, it would be very unnerving, but he would no longer be Troy, life for me wouldn’t be as interesting, and I would lose a voice that causes me to constantly challenge my beliefs. Yes, I want you to consider my words, but think for yourself!
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