I’m not going to get tedious here. But something clicked for me while watching Wednesday’s debate, and it wasn’t how odious ABC’s moderators were. I’m a strong advocate for Obama, but I don’t hate Hillary. I admire her tenacity, her intelligence, and her ambition. But I don’t like her. There’s always been an undefined reason that’s held me back, though I haven’t agreed with her critics when they’ve accused her of being ‘cold’ or ‘a machine’. I’m wholly convinced that she cares about this country, and about its people, cares deeply and passionately. What then, was it that held me back?
While watching the debate, the penny dropped. Obama was looking gaunt and worn out, unable to respond quickly to the inane questions and smears being thrown in his direction. He would pause, and then answer with deliberation and directness that was evidently honest and sincere despite his fatigue, his exhaustion. It wasn’t an impressive performance; it wasn’t Obama at his best by any means. But when he spoke, I felt as if he were speaking what he honestly believed.
Hillarly, however, didn’t have the same ring of truth. Or more accurately, her words, her pauses, her mannerisms, they all seemed carefully orchestrated. Not in some stilted, artificial manner; she’s too good a speaker for that. Instead, I detected something in her cadences and hesitations that reminded me of myself, way back during the beginning of my college years, and that’s when it clicked and I knew why I didn’t quite like her.
(And if this is hubristic of me, whatever. This is what I think.)
There are many different ways to argue. You can overload your opponent with endless facts and figures and just numb them into silence. You can use emotional ploys like tears or yelling and silent indifference. You can simply state facts like a robot, or you can argue as openly and honestly as you can, genuinely listening to your opponent and doing your best to reach a resolution.
The way I used to argue was to win. I hated being wrong, didn’t believe I ever could be wrong since I always thought I acted in good faith, so would use every weapon at my disposal to ‘win’ the argument. How would I do this? I had a knack for sensing the tension in the air, for detecting weakness