One of my biggest pet peeves in political discussions is the number of unspecific and entirely subjective statements that get tossed around. For example, gun control advocates like to claim that they want common sense gun control laws but common sense is entirely subjective. What is common sense to me may not be common sense to you.
One person might believe that it’s common sense to prohibit private ownership of machine guns but not at all common sense to prohibit private ownership of semi-automatic firearms. Another person might believe that it’s common sense to prohibit private ownership of standard capacity magazines but not magazines with a capacity of seven or fewer rounds. Yet another person might believe that abolishing private gun ownership entirely is common sense.
If somebody claims that they want common sense gun control laws, they’re not presenting anything that can be meaningfully discussed. Without the ability to have a meaningful discussion, both sides of the aisle will end up making assumptions about the other and those assumptions will generally be the best case when a subjective statement is made by somebody with whom they agree and the worst case when a statement is made by somebody with whom they disagree. In the end both sides will just end up screeching at each other.
I used gun control as an example because I spend a lot of time writing about guns but what I’ve said is true of every political discussion. People will claim that they’re pushing a political agenda to make the nation a better place, guard the average person against the rich, help the poor reclaim their dignity, etc. But what qualifies as a better nation is subjective. What qualifies a person as poor, average, or rich is subjective. What qualifies as dignity is subjective.
Subjective statements should really be dropped in favor of specific proposals. To return to our gun control example, a gun control advocate could propose to implement a law that requires all firearm transfers to go through a federally licensed dealer in order to be legal or a ban on semi-automatic firearms with specific features. Since those are specific proposals, the pros and cons of those proposals can be debated. Instead of having to make assumptions about the other’s definition of a subjective idea, both sides can now discuss the specific proposal.
Unfortunately, I see no signs that political discourse in the United States will shift away from the subjective. All signs point to the opposite.