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Ad Hominem Politics

"Ad hominem statements allow candidates to 'win' a debate, as they depart with one-liners sure to appear on next morning’s front pages. Yet, resorting to character attacks belies a great weakness: It is far easier to disparage the personality of your competitor rather than their politics."

"Ultimately, ad hominem attacks contradict the pursuit of truth approachable through a discourse that is driven by facts. Helping to crown the candidates with the weakest arguments victors, ad hominem tactics distract from a dearth of facts, logic and reason. In the end, ad hominems make the attacker look bad, not their target, and it is the voting public that suffers. Endemic in our political discourse, ad hominem tactics greatly impede the progress that could be made if we focus on critiquing policies rather than people."

One-liners and zingers between candidates make for great theater during a political debate, but is that what we should look for in our elected leaders? Do such ad hominems solve the problems that our leaders face? Do one-liners fix our economy or help defeat ISIS? It is important to remember that we are electing the President of the United States and not the next late night TV host. Ultimately, ideas matter.

The Observer l November 2, 2015

j street musings

Much like the absence of J Street in Washington, DC, we provide what is too often lacking from today's politics--substantive research and thoughtful discourse.


J Street Musings is a collection of essays and articles on a variety of issues and genres.  Authored by our team and by scholars and thinkers across the world, each post highlights a few key quotes and fundamental questions to direct our minds toward a thoughtful engagement of the article.

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