Friday, February 5, 2016

Bernie and Hillary's Fallacies

In a recent debate in New Hampshire, Democratic nominees Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton exchanged some choice words regarding donations from interest groups. Sanders began by expressing frustration regarding how much influence large donations can have on campaigns. "If we do not get a handle on... the degree to which big money controls the political process in this country, nobody is gonna bring about the changes that are needed in this country for the middle class and working families," This statement immediately makes me think of the fallacy of hasty generalization, as it seems a bit presumptuous to say that there is no hope for the middle class with the current system.

Clinton's response, however, shows a much clearer fallacy. "There is this attack that [Sanders] is putting forth, which really comes down to, anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought!" Clinton claims. This is a clear example of the strawman fallacy. Instead of responding to Sanders' actual argument, which is the unhealthy influence of these large donations on politics, Clinton twists it into a crude generalization that demonizes all interest groups, which wasn't Sanders' point at all.

While these candidates make good points on both sides, it's important that they are as careful with their language as possible. Once campaigns start falling into these logical fallacies, the quality of discourse goes downhill rather quickly. Let's hope these are small errors on the part of these candidates, rather than long-term political patterns.

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