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This is a discussion on Is there a place to learn about politics in a calm and reasonable manner? within the The Debate Forum forums, part of the Topics of Interest category; Originally Posted by snowbell As above. I want to learn how politics works (in the US especially) but it seems ...
Do you just want to keep up with issues surrounding the parties by someone who tries to stay impartial? I recommend a plain blog about politics.
As far as book are concerned, I strongly recommend reading "The Federalist Papers". They're actually partisan pieces from when our constitution was being written (so, they're not partisan in any real modern sense), and if you read the arguments they make, they explain the positions that eventually became the law of the land (ie the constitution).
Perhaps you mean political science. At any rate, there are plenty of college courses in poli. sci. that are "unbiased". If that happens to be a fairly liberal place (because there are a few colleges that have extremely liberal professors), then I'd go with the rest and just read up on Locke, Marx, Paine, Jefferson, Smith, etc.
btw, @snowbell, which country are you from. perhaps it might help "translate" out politics to one you're more familiar with.
What about discussion though? I'll definitely be reading the Federalist papers, but what I'm really hoping is for a venue to discuss things with peace - the only other suitable forum I've found consists of every argument being derailed by childish name-calling and the same few disparaging comments being thrown over and over again.
I worry that if I read I can simply select and choose what to read, but being involved (or even reading) in discussion is going to bring about unknown or un-percieved opinions and ideas.
I'd try googling political science or political philosophy forums if I'm in your situation: philosophy sites tend to be reserved for calm, cool collected intellectual individuals who love to discuss philosophy. But even then, we're all still human and prone to argue.
moderate voice used to be good for fairly reasonable comment sections, but I haven't been on that site in a while so I'm not sure any more. The Economist might have a good forum, but I'm not sure.
bellisaurius. I would recommend the Federalist papers, particularly Federalist # 10 and # 51. The U.S., like others have stated, was set up with the idea that speech should not be limited. In a "marketplace of ideas," there will be lots of bad ideas, but the hope is that the good ideas would be sifted out. Doesn't always happen. However, from the beginning of the U.S. republic, there were basically two sets of ideas on the role of government. There was the "agrarian paradise" model which Jefferson believed was the most idea. Jefferson essentially believed that there should be a limited Federal government and that States should be like mini autonomous countries with full control over the affairs of its people. Mind you. the U.S. just gained independence from England at the time so there was a legitimate concern that an out of control federal government would impose itself unwarrantedly on individuals and that an aristocratic elite would emerge wielding power only to favor themselves as opposed to all individuals. On the other side were the federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton. The world of Hamilton is the world we live in today, but the proper role of government in relation to the States (Federalism), the proper role of the State and Federal Government in relation to individuals, and the correct way to set these proper roles in conjunction with the enumerated powers granted by the Constitution, is not as contentious as it was in the formation of the U.S., but it is contentious nonetheless. It is a myth that debate in the U.S. was ever civil. We even had a Civil War because two sides were adamant about the direction the U.S. should head. The Civil War was not just about slavery. It was also an issue of the role of government: whether the federal government can impose certain limits on the actions of individuals or another State.
So a decent understanding of U.S. history would probably help you grasp why our particular contentious and "win at any cost" style of debate is the norm. I also recommend reading speeches by Abraham Lincoln. There are some almost poetic ways he views the role of government and the idea of America that he articulates. Perhaps read the Lincoln/Douglas debates.
A lot of college textbooks on American government are actually quite good, and even if the authors are somewhat biased towards the left or right you really have to work at it to find their bias. A pretty good introduction textbook is American Government: Power and Purpose
As far as TV coverage, if you get CSPAN it's really the only place to get coverage of Capitol Hill without any spin. They just show a live camera feed from the House and Senate floors. Granted, the majority party has control of the cameras, but they show what actually goes on during the legislative process there isn't a pundit yaking in your face the entire time.
Just a disclaimer: learning about politics in a complete and careful way like you seem to want to do is definitely not one of the most fun things to do. Be prepared to spend a lot of time studying some really boring stuff. You probably know this already but it deserves a second mention
Hope that helps somewhat
It's called real life. Internet discussions over politics always turn into fights.