As voters sort out debate performance vs. substance of arguments, it’s crucial to fact-check; www.politifact.com is my favorite (Pulitzer Prize-winning) site for this.
There are plenty of checks on the site to make both sides in this presidential contest squirm, but fact-checking allows all of us to formulate our arguments in an informed manner. Some say it’s a losing battle in these twittering days of sound bites. Perhaps it is, but I refuse to surrender!
I recently took a long train trip. On Amtrak you are seated with your fellow passengers for meals, so you’re always meeting someone new. Just for fun (and perhaps to prove a point that civility is not dead yet) I conducted a straw presidential poll at the end of the meal, with no political conversation allowed.
Most folks participated and a couple of people were clearly surprised by their tablemates’ responses, especially when they’d just had an interesting conversation with people whose politics were suddenly revealed to differ from theirs.
This was a small, largely symbolic action to promote a bit more civility and peace in the world. But it mattered, like all of our conversations. It will not stop me, or others, from speaking up and acting on our passionate convictions, but it reminds me that we always need to remember that there are people of goodwill on all – well, OK, most – sides of an argument.