in order to really convince another in a debate over facts, one has to acknowledge from the outset that your opponent is arguing in good faith.
In other words, saying that they are stupid or morally corrupt is NOT helpful, and I think it is almost never true, either. The factual point may be blindingly clear to you, but ascribing moral turpitude or low IQ to your debate partner is not the way to convince them. We need to keep in mind that that is the goal, here–convincing them. The goal is not to “win” or belittle or name-call–it is to convince, to change both hearts and minds. It is to convert.
See, I can acknowledge the good impulses and even fundamental morality of my adversary while still making my logical point. I think there is great danger in conflating those two things. Once I start assuming, even tacitly, that my opponent is NOT acting in good faith and that no one of good faith would hold to that drivel, I have lost the power to convince. I may indeed “win” the argument, but I lose the “convert.”
And “convert” is precisely the correct word. When my goal is merely to “win,” to puff myself up, only anger results. Not a winning strategy. No, the goal is not to win, but to persuade.
The prima facie case for this is religion. I can “bash” forever with someone of a different faith tradition and it will do no good at all. The issue is NOT that I am seeking to show that I am right. I am seeking a convert, and that is a totally different thing.
And that perfectly describes what we are seeing with Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. They are woefully ignorant in terms of factual knowledge. But they have “converted” people to their cause. And the two major parties have ignored the role of conversion, to their detriment (and perhaps to their utter destruction). The mistake the “establishment” of both parties have made is thinking that this is at all about facts. It isn’t. It is about conversion.