2020 is on the horizon and the Democrats are starting to throw their hats in the ring for the number one contender’s spot against Donald Trump for the title of 46th President of the United States. There are few people I know who aren’t pulling for someone to evict the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Some are even likely to take a swing at the low hanging fruit to exclaim “You’re fired!” should our sitting executive lose his bid for a second term.
However, there’s a gauntlet match that those vying to be the standard bearer of the lauded House of the Donkey to get through. As it stands there’s a field of ten and growing upstarts that want to take a swing at the reigning election champion, the Golden Don, El Presidente 45, Donald J. Trump. I, for one, love the sport of it as much as I am invested in the stakes of the affair. I enjoy watching the pugilisitic and pompous gesticulation and articulation of talking point after talking point to see who has the stamina and will to make it to the nomination (assuming of course that the party doesn’t attempt to anoint any specific candidate and undermine their constituency).
I’m not looking to make any undue prognostications or endorsements so early on in the season. In fact, after the horror show swerve that occurred in the last election cycle, I’ve got half a mind to keep my guesses to myself. I don’t have a pony in the race either, as I’m not registered to any political party so my endorsement amounts to less than a Hill of bought and paid politicians–in the State of New York I can’t vote in the Primary unless I join a party.
Instead I’m going to make the softball prediction of some likely forms of Lung-Fu all the hot air being spouted will be styled into on this months long journey through the Democratic National Primary Brackets. Of course, I’m referring to some of the frequent logical fallacies we can expect to be utilized by the field of politicians who will be lying their way to trustworthiness and viability–and those in their corners.
The following list of common logical fallacies could be used in any number of ways by adventurous political sports fans. You could create a bingo card, or make a drinking game, you could play fallacy twister, or make betting boxes…there are innumerable ways to use these fallacies to make a fun and exciting experience out of the primary debates and stump speeches that are about to bombard the news cycle.
Perhaps, at its most boring and most beneficial level of utility we could all sharpen our ears to the ways that politicians, pundits, and arm chair political scientists vying for any candidate will their use silver tongues and carefully crafted empty words to persuade us to vote their way.
If internet comments sections had an officially endorsed logical fallacy it would be this one. While many politicians are quite adept at the use of name calling and attacking the character of others, there is perhaps none of skilled and open in the use of this fallacy as President Trump himself. Whether he’s talking about Crooked Hillary, Little Rocket Man, Low Energy Jeb, or anyone else he’s rhetorically going toe-to-toe with you can always expect the President to come up with some ad hominem attack nickname. While in the Democratic Primaries we can probably expect somewhat lower key ad hominem attacks within the party lines, we can be sure to check the President’s official Twitter for some shiny new monickers for all the Democratic Hopefuls–especially after a gaffe.
Amphiboly and Straw Man
Amphiboly is less likely to be used in the actual debate than it is to be used by news pundits. In amphiboly somebody takes an ambiguously worded statement–a resource that there is bound to be no shortage of during an election–and comes to the wrong conclusion. Using that wrong conclusion as an argument is stock-in-trade for 24-Hour News Stations. Likewise, a Straw Man argument takes a part of an argument and misrepresents it in order to more easily defend against it. In this case we can expect One America News, Fox News Channel, and any of the other really right-wing oriented news stations to use both of these fallacies to continue asserting absurd notions like one candidate doesn’t want us to have hamburgers in order to stop climate change or that they want to create death panels in order to provide socialized health care.
Begging the Question
We can expect this logical fallacy to arise when the issue of Russian Collusion rears its head. Though by the time debates start the Mueller Investigation may in fact have ended and the question about whether or not there is any evidence will be cleared up, the fact that this fallacy of concealing an essential premise in an unknown conclusion is an all-time favorite in conspiracy theory circles and political speculation. In fact, we can assume that many of the candidates themselves will be assuming the truth of things that require a lot of proving, even outside of the Russian Collusion accusation.
We can expect this fallacy where a diversion topic is brought up to avoid the issue at hand to come up often in the campaign trail and on the debate stage. Whenever the topics of income inequality, healthcare reform, or marginal tax rates come up get yourself geared up to hear candidates either line for or against socialism. The reality is that these issues are huge problems for The Republic to manage and they hinge more on human rights than economic systems. Either we agree that in the wealthiest nation in the world nobody should be hungry, without medical attention, or uneducated (among other things) or we don’t. This will not be the case however, and instead we will be subjected to conversations about market theories and economic policy.
Again, here we will see this fallacy where an assumption of an idea is made true simply because we want it to be. This is going to happen left and right in living rooms and around water coolers across the country as people will be making their predictions and endorsements known. In some cases, people who are pessimistic will be discussing their theories about why their preferred candidates will definitely lose. No matter who people are pulling for, the most adamant among the inevitable losers in the Democratic Primary Season and the 2020 Election are going to have this fallacy coming crashing down around their heads because it surpasses couched hopes into diehard beliefs.
Ultimately, these won’t be the only logical fallacies we see in the 2020 election but the five or six (depending on how you count them) listed above will be fairly frequent and easy to catch. So start putting together your debate night games and sharpening your note taking pencils because we’re in for a long ride full of bad logic and poor reasoning.