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Wedge Issues: the Dialectal Trap


Staff Writer

A dialectical argument is a method of discourse used to arrive at the truth between two or more different points of view. Dialectical argumentation has existed in Western thought since at least the Greek philosophers and likely before.

Modern political discourse is highly dialectal. We have two opposing parties with two sets of opposing views. Several political issues are wedge issues. Gun control, abortion and immigration are among the most divisive.

Republicans and Democrats form their opinions on these issues based on their respective media sphere’s talking points. On any given issue, one side (usually the Left) forms an opinion and then the so-called Right forms the reaction. In German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Hegel’s dialectic, there is an ultimate synthesis of the two forces.

The problem with this model is not so much the force and the reaction. Rather, it is that the reaction is based on just reaction. According to Republican logic, we must oppose any kind of social program or economic regulations because the Democrats oppose unfettered capitalism, at least on paper.

This presents a problem for the voter. You must select either one package of issues or the other. There is no room for dissent or change. If you are for gun control, you must also be pro-abortion. Actual policy decisions are not as clear-cut and narrow. There are no answers to these issues in either direction.

The gun control and abortion issues are an excellent example. In both cases, those that push for a ban on either firearms or abortion are highly unrealistic. The genie is out of the bottle, so to speak. Three centuries of American gun ownership and five decades of abortion are not going to be undone in a single Congressional session or even two presidential terms.

These issues, once deconstructed, are exercises in absurdity. Neither side can expect to win against the other. The ruling class easily exploits the problem-reaction structure. Media will drum up a wedge issue while the money power institutes another free trade treaty or signs on to another United Nations’ treaty, ceding sovereignty and more jobs to people overseas.

The voter should not pay attention to divisive wedge issues. They are a tool used to manipulate us. As much as we have invested in them, there is no convincing the other side. Media has turned rational debate into an emotion-laced ‘conversation,’ which ultimately means we kowtow to whichever brand of talking points we prefer.

Fox News will continue to parrot the ‘right wing’ neoconservative establishment’s points and CNN or MSNBC will continue to espouse the faux-left’s points. Any deviation from the programs results in being shunned from the movement.

There are far greater crises at hand. Immigration, the economy and foreign policy are far important to the fabric of the nation than if a sane, law-abiding citizen owns a so-called assault weapon or if a poor single mother aborts a child she cannot afford.

Do not let the media and politicians catch you into the dialectical trap.

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