The Perils of Salesmanship

It’s a little nuts how the Presidential debate has dominated the news media the last couple of days. And super unfortunate how people are attentive to the Presidential race, to the exclusion of all the other political races going on in the country. Considered in terms of conversation, it makes sense. We can talk about two people, we can compare the stories they tell. We can do that without things getting too confusing. But the result is that, while the Presidency matters, all the other races turn on reactionary politics. More than half the states in the union are now represented by committed anti-federalists. What turns out to be problematic, in my view, is that those committed anti-federal forces get co-opted by corporate intersts.

All that said, I was thinking about Trump-as-salesman this morning, and how Clinton engaged in rhetorical jujitsu in the debate. The one thing you can count on with Trump – and with lots of people like him – is that he can’t be wrong. He cannot be seen as a loser. I’ve debated with people like that, and the biggest mistake you can make in those sorts of debates is to assume good faith. A salesman wants to make a sale, above all else. In a debate, they will never back down, not in the face of evidence or reason. They will pick out some point and repeat it louder and more insistantly and never yield. I’ve seen people argue this way, and you can’t argue back. You just have to walk away. There is no negotiation – things will go their way, or you will walk away. Period.

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