One political national convention is now finished with another to come next week. Watching and listening to the primetime coverage, the closest thing I find to compare it to is a stereotypical, religious, revival meeting. There was a token amount of attempts at appealing to those outside the party, but it was mostly about energizing the insiders and providing the necessary impetus to carry forward their mission over the short term – to get their nominee elected.
The speeches were full of flowery and fiery rhetoric, frequently without much or any support for the conclusions listeners were given. There was plenty of appeal to emotion, appeal to personality, appeal to party loyalty. There was little to no appeal to good, sound logic and critical thinking – except perhaps critical thinking to sort out integrity vs. misrepresentation and spin.
Earlier I likened the convention to a religious meeting. Suppose it was a religious meeting and the speakers were pastors and religious leaders. Would we allow the sort of speeches (referring to use of rhetoric rather than subject matter) that were given during the convention? For the sake of argument let’s suppose that all speakers were speaking truthfully. Would we want pastors to be saying things that could raise questions about their truthfulness, even if they were ultimately determined to be true? Shouldn’t pastors stay well clear of the edge and stick to things that are plain and clear? Some religious speakers do appeal to emotion and personality, but that doesn’t make it right and for Christians who follow the bible, at least how I understand it, those are techniques to be avoided.
Do we have a double standard when it comes to political speech vs. religious speech? Is that appropriate? acceptable? Or should we apply the same standards to both types of speech? Both types of speech attempt to persuade, to cause people to make judgments, to inspire people to action. I believe the same standards should be applied to both.
Both political and religious speech should steer away from questionable practices that involve attempts to manipulate information and people. Both should stick to use of sound reasoning principles. Excitement should come from truthfulness rather than artificial attempts to whip up the emotion.
If there is one thing I learned from the convention speeches it was this: examples of what not to do in sermons and speeches I give.