Sunday, November 15, 2015

The "I Called It" Technique

This week, we've seen two large debates for the upcoming election, and  the candidates have used several rhetorical devices and appeals. Because of this, the rhetorical tone of these debates ends up being based on the speed of your responses and the pressure that you can put on the other candidates. Often, knowing what you're doing is less important than looking like you know what you're doing. There is one rhetorical device that I've noticed basically every candidate uses, most likely since it's very effective at easing this pressure. It is what I refer to as the "I called it" technique.

When a candidate is presented with an issue regarding older politics, they love to say that their political views back then match what actually happened. For example, The monitor mentioned that the  government underestimated ISIS during Clinton's time as Secretary of State, and asked how she would be able to properly identify these threats in the future. Clinton responded, "I did, early on, say we needed to find a way to train and equip moderates very early... because I thought there would be extremist groups filling the vacuum (in Iraq)."

What Clinton achieves here is proof that she knows what she's talking about and that her methods work. Suddenly, the burden of proof is on the other candidates, since she has automatically provided her own. This is one of the hidden advantages of having lots of prior political experience- you can cherry pick the arguments you were right about and bring them up to prove your point.

Clinton isn't the only person to use this tactic, either. Several republican candidates made similar claims about tax reform and Obamacare. I think that it says a lot that one of the most relevant rhetorical strategies in these debates is defensive- it is so advantageous to tear other candidates down that proving the validity of your own argument is a major concern. Hopefully someday, the candidates can work together instead of ripping each other to pieces, and the "I called it" technique won't be necessary, but that day is a long way off.

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