A Template for Bad Political Arguments

Pick a number: 1, 2 or 3. Remember it, and read this:

We could make ______ illegal. Yes, it would be politically challenging, as people are extremely divided. Those who are for ______ (which includes many corporations and lobbyists) have tremendous political power and resources. Those against ______ would have a hard time getting a majority. We’re unlikely to see any change.

But the worst part is that even if ______ were made illegal, that wouldn’t stop most individuals. People would find a way to ensure that ______ are available and accessible. They would have ______ in secret. And really, the problems that do exist with ______ would continue, but would be harder to study because ______ would be illegal.

So really, banning ______ wouldn’t work. The main effect of changing the law would be to drive ______ underground.


Now, go back and substitute one of the following words based on the number you chose, and read that again.

  1. Guns
  2. Abortions
  3. Alcoholic beverages

Feel free to try it again with the other two.


This is one of the many reasons that politics is broken. Issues are framed as extremes, and we all know that nothing will change if we’re only focused on some idealized outcome. However:

In truth, we can make real progress on the issue of ______. We can have meaningful discussions about whether or not ______ are a fundamental human right, and if so in what situations. Because even those of us who do think that ______ are an essential freedom that must be maintained, we all generally agree that there are some limits worth at least discussing. For example: should _______ be available to everyone, regardless of their age or mental status?

I know it’s hard to talk about ______ without feeling emotional, especially if ______ have had a deeply personal impact on your life. But we must, in order for us to decide, together, what to do next.

That’s for 1, 2, and 3. And also 4, 5, 6 and thousands more.

Let’s not jump to extremes. Let’s try talking.

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