Sunday, March 06, 2016

The Forest, Trees, and Tax Plans

Last week I composed an argument for why I won't vote for the very likable Bernie Sanders.

I struggled while writing that.

I didn't struggle because it was a difficult argument.

I struggled because I knew I was going into the weeds. I wanted to bring evidence from Bernie's website into the discussion. I wanted to show where and why his plans are flawed.

That choice demonstrated a lack of audience awareness on my part.

Like many scholars and teachers before me, I want my students to research, critique, and consider their intended audience whenever they compose a message.

I have a theory of writing ability; it informs how I teach. Based on that theory, I decide what kinds of activities will improve a student's writing. An important part of my theory suggests that developing audience awareness leads to improved writing.

And while reflecting on this during discussions in my Composition Pedagogy course, I thought back to my post on Bernie.

Going into the details was the wrong path. The arguments driving this election are not about the details.

I want people to vote based on policies and platforms that will impact their lives, and that's why I construct arguments based on proposed policy.

For example, my family cannot afford Bernie's $4k-$9k increase in our federal taxes.

But there I go again.

That's not a picture of Bernie getting arrested in the 60s. Nor is it a video of Clinton's uncomfortable reaction to a protester interrupting a fund raising event.

No. It's just me citing policy analysis produced by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center.  It's just me considering how two candidates' proposals would impact me personally.

And I'm silly enough to believe that is what should drive people to the polls.

So, I guess that's the argument that needs to be made first. Before I can use real policy analysis, I need to make this argument:

When considering who to vote into any elected office, we each as individuals need to consider what evidence is the most valuable in the argument for our vote.

Is it enough for candidates to tell us what they want in the future, or should we expect them to respond to expert critiques of their plans?

But then we get back into the weeds again, don't we?
Who is an expert? Is any group truly non-partisan? How much would I save on healthcare or college if Bernie gets his way? And----

Hey, did you hear what that dummy said about his johnson in the debate?

I don't know.

I do love to debate politics, and I enjoy the ways election season tests my convictions.

I try to use these experiences to help me develop professionally and personally.