Issues and Non-Issues in a Debate

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Matt Brown

Sep 25, 1992, 3:20:15 PM9/25/92
Ted Kreuger writes:

>Please allow me to explain why "non-issues" may in fact be issues.
>Someone famous said that he who defines the issues wins the debate.
>I was taught this in high school debate class.

>This is why conservatives do not allow liberals to get away with
>this "non-issue" thing. Obviously draft-dodging is an issue,
>else it would have dissolved by now.

This is a marvelous admission of how false to the American public
the current administration and the re-election commitee are being.

Ted, while you may have taken a debate class, you must have skipped
Logic. Your conclusion is far from obvious from your assertions.

He who defines the issues wins the debate
Conservatives continue to define Clinton's draft record as an issue
It must be a real issue, because it continues to be discussed

Q.E.D. eh Ted?

You are clearly using "issue" in two very different forms.
1) A substantive and central aspect of a discussion, election, or debate.
2) Any point of information that can have a persuasive impact on the outcome
of a discussion, election, or debate.

Clinton's draft record is certainly an instance of #2. Most Democrats
contend that it is not an instance of #1. While you do not directly speak
for the Republican Party, your fractured syllogism stands as an admission
of your own opinion that the draft issue is a device for winning the election,
rather than a substantive campaign issue.

The test of substantiveness of an issue is in no way related to the
frequency with which it is repeated by an opponent. However, the
importance of an issue to election results is most likely related
to that frequency, and the frequency with which that 'issue' is
discussed or refuted by the candidate.

In other words, propaganda can be decisive in an election, but that does
not make that propaganda a substantive issue (#1 style). However, it could
be argued that "Why must the Republicans continue to rely on propaganda to
win the election, instead of discussing the substantive issues, and the
Bush administration's record in those areas?" is a legitimate #1 style issue.

Was Mr. Bush or Mr. Baker in your debate class?
What was it called in debate class when one team refused to agree on the
terms of the debate, after previously agreeing to them?

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