Political Discourse as it once was. Quotes from the Lincoln/Douglas debates:

"If I have reasoned to a false conclusion, it is the vocation of an able debater to show by argument that I have wandered to an erroneous conclusion."
- Abraham Lincoln, 8/21/1858

 

"I desire to address myself to your judgment, your understanding, and your consciences, and not to your passions or your enthusiasm."
- Stephen A. Douglas, 8/21/1858

 

"But I have a right to claim that if a man says he knows a thing, then he must show how he knows it. I always have a right to claim this, and it is not satisfactory to me that he may be 'conscientious' on the subject."
- Abraham Lincoln, 8/21/1858

 

 

 


Scoring


Form letter reply or no reply at all. It is not clear that anyone has even read the correspondence beyond possibly noting the topic. A complete disregard of a constituent's specific questions especially after repeated attempts. A complete lack of engagement in the democratic process.

 

Attempts to address the specific points raised by the constituent but in a demonstrably unreasoned manner, whether sincere or through deliberate rationalization.

 

 

A valid, rational argument that places truth above politics and partisanship. Fully engaged in the democratic process.


 

 

 

 


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"The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government."

- Thomas Jefferson, 3/31/1809, in a letter to the Citizens of Washington County, Maryland


"I have a right to claim that if a man says he knows a thing, then he must show how he knows it. I always have a right to claim this, and it is not satisfactory to me that he may be 'conscientious' on the subject."  - Abraham Lincoln debating Stephen Douglas, 8/21/1858


Recalled Governor Gray Davis, CA

The office of Governor Davis fails to live up to the Governor's own stated principle on engaging with citizens. Governor Davis stated that, "an informed and engaged citizenry is essential to the democratic process" and yet his own Constituent Affairs Department repeatedly agreed that it is perfectly sufficient for the Governor to take a position and offer absolutely no justification for it. Governor Davis, if you believe what you say about the essence of Democracy then please live up to your words and engage this debate. (9 contacts)

Summary of Contacts:

Contact
Summary
Initial contact. Trying to engage the debate.
Interesting auto-response e-mail about the necessity of an engaged citizenry.
Undemocratically DisengagedForm letter reply that is not even related to the topic and simply plugs the Governor's web site.
Another attempt to engage the debate.
I called and left a message for the Policy Dept.
After a month of no reply I called and spoke to Constituent Affairs.
I left a message for the Director of Constituent Affairs who had not returned my call after a month.
Another month had passed without contact and I again spoke to Constituent Affairs.
The Governor does not have to justify any position that he takes according to his very own Constituent Affairs Department.

 


First contact: To Governor Gray Davis from a private citizen.

November 6, 2002


Governor Gray Davis
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Gray Davis,

As my Governor, I would like to better understand your pro-choice position
by getting answers to just a few specific questions. These questions are
straightforward and I would prefer answers to these questions rather than a
general form letter response so that I may better understand how you
represent me, your constituent.

As a rational person who is pro-life, I can find no Constitutional basis for
one person’s ‘right’ to legally kill an innocent person. The 14th amendment
of the U.S. Constitution makes clear that all persons, regardless of
citizenship, are to be protected equally by the laws. This argument
presumes:

1) the pregnant woman is two individuals and not one
2) the second individual is also a person entitled to rights
3) all persons are included by the equal protection clause of the 14th
amendment of the U.S. Constitution

If you accept these three statements then there is no other rational
position but to be pro-life. As a pro-choice person you must disagree with
at least one of these three statements. In summary, I would like to know
which and why.

The first statement is based on the fact that our lives as individuals begin
at conception/fertilization. There is overwhelming evidence to support this
fact. According to U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee testimony given by
numerous internationally known biologists and geneticists, the answer is
clear:

“Conception (fertilization) marks the beginning of the life of a human being
... There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical,
biological and scientific writings."
Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158,
97th Congress, 1st Session 1981, p.7

Further testimony was given by Jerome Lejuene, the Father of Modern
Genetics, who told lawmakers, “To accept the fact that after fertilization
has taken place, a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of
taste or opinion ... it is plain experimental evidence.”

Opposing testimony to these points was invited but none was received because
to do so is profoundly contrary to scientific knowledge.

One does not need a degree in biology to accept this position as fact for if
a new individual did not exist after conception/fertilization then a
pregnancy must at some point conclude by the mother splitting into two
individuals, an act of asexual reproduction. Since we each have two parents
who created us at conception/fertilization, if we are not independent beings
from that point on then human beings must reproduce asexually which is
absurd.

My first question for you is do you believe that conception/fertilization
marks the beginning of a human being’s existence? If no, please explain
when this occurs and why you believe this is so.

The second statement is that unborn human beings are in fact persons
entitled to rights. Being a person is not a subjective matter, as some
seemingly believe; it is a matter of objective fact. Africans are persons
and have always been persons even though they were not treated as such
during the days of slavery. Dred Scott was factually incorrect by not
recognizing the objective fact of the personhood of Africans. Those today
who claim that while the unborn are human beings they are not persons are
making a similar arbitrary, subjective assertion. Upon serious examination,
I have never found a rational argument to support this pro-choice
conclusion. Let me explain why.

You and I are persons because we are each inherently capable of thought,
feeling, emotion, reason, and all of those other attributes commonly
associated with persons. The unborn are also persons because they are
beings that have this same inherent capacity. While they do not have the
immediate capacity to demonstrate these abilities, neither do you or I while
unconscious. You and I retain our personhood while unconscious because we
are beings with these inherent capacities. It’s that simple. Unborn human
beings are persons for the same reason that you and I are; we all have
inherent capacities that distinguish us from all non-persons. We all have
the being of persons so we all are persons.

While one could perhaps argue that only those individuals with blue eyes are
persons, one would be hard pressed to explain why this position would not be
arbitrary since it has nothing to do with being a person. The only
non-arbitrary place for assigning personhood is the beginning of that
individual’s existence which is conception/fertilization. Any other place
ignores the inherent capacities of that being which is what defines the
being for what he/she truly is, a person.

My second question is do you believe that unborn human beings, while living
members of the species homo sapiens, are also persons? If no, when do they
become persons and why at that time?

The third part of my position comes directly from the U.S. Constitution.
The 14th amendment clearly states that all persons are to have equal
protection of the laws. Since you swore an oath to uphold the Constitution
I doubt that you have an issue with the 14th amendment. Do you have a
different reading of this amendment?

I have given a lot of thought to this issue and have found no rational
pro-choice arguments that address this fundamental issue of the personhood
of the unborn. Even Roe v. Wade specifically avoids it which is absolutely
inexcusable; You can’t argue that there are no victims simply by dodging the
point.

In today’s political climate, being pro-choice is easy. Given the
rationality of pro-life arguments that I have heard, I think that someday
arguments for the choice of abortion and the choice to own slaves will be
held in the same regard. The arbitrary denial of the most fundamental
protections, called by our founders the “unalienable right to life and
liberty,” in order to achieve one’s own ends against an innocent person is a
crime against humanity. There is no Constitutional right to kill an
innocent human being for one’s own benefit. (Again, Roe v. Wade
specifically avoided this point and therefore can not be used as a defense.)

I am very open to a rational pro-choice argument but I’m having some
difficulty finding one. Thank you for your time and I look forward to your
reply so that I may better understand just how you are representing me.

Sincerely,
A Private Citizen

*** Please don't reply with a form letter as I am seeking very specific
answers to very specific questions. Thanks! ***

Second contact: Auto-Respond e-mail from Governor Gray Davis about the necessity of an engaged citizenry.

[emphasis added]

November 6, 2002

Thank you for your email. I appreciate you taking the time to keep me informed of your opinions and the issues that are important to you. Your comments help keep me informed as we strive to make California a better place in which to work and live.

Your email has been directed to members of my staff who assist constituents and report ideas and concerns daily. If your concern is best handled by a specific department, your correspondence will be forwarded for action and response.

So that we can keep track of correspondence and ensure that we are able to respond to California residents, please be sure to include your name and address when you communicate with the Governor's Office or any state agency. Please note that we do NOT accept email attachments, so your correspondence should be included within the text of your email.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts. An informed and engaged citizenry is essential to the democratic process, and I appreciate your willingness to write me.

Sincerely,

Governor Gray Davis

Third contact: E-mail from Governor Gray Davis to a private citizen.

Undemocratically Disengaged The Governor's actual response is simply to plug his web site. This form letter is not even related to the topic and it is totally unclear that anyone has read the original message.



November 06, 2002

Dear Private Citizen,

Thank you for your correspondence. The Governor appreciates hearing from you.

The Governor is constantly involved with a wide variety of issues. You can access current press releases and speeches by selecting "the Press Room" on the Governor's Homepage at www.governor.ca.gov. In addition, you may wish to access the State of California homepage at www.ca.gov. On this website you will find additional information dealing with many of the issues concerning the State of California and links to various State agencies.

Once again, thank you for writing.

Sincerely,

Maree Diego
Constituent Affairs

Fourth contact: E-mail to Governor Gray Davis from a private citizen.

November 07, 2002

Maree,

When I submitted my questions I received a generic bounce letter from the Governor stating that, "An informed and engaged citizenry is essential to the democratic process." I agree completely but if I receive non-answers to my questions I can hardly be an engaged citizen and I'm quite certain that these questions are not answered on the web site. I'm am trying to be engaged! Please have someone with authority to speak for the Governor reply to my questions.

From your reply it is unclear as to whether anyone has actually read my correspondence. Thank you.

A Private Citizen

Fifth contact: I called and left a message for the Policy Dept.

 


January 3, 2003


I called and tried to contact the Policy Dept. but they were not answering their phones so I left a message with Alena along with contact information.

Sixth contact: After a month of no reply I called and spoke to Constituent Affairs.

February 5, 2003


After over a month with no reply I spoke with Judy in the Policy Dept. who determined that the most appropriate persons to answer my questions would be in Constituent Affairs since they had received my initial questions. I then spoke with Amber in Constituent Affairs who could not answer any of my questions but would only repeat Governor Davis' position rather than his justification for holding this position. Amber said that she would refer my questions to Kelly, the Director of Constituent Affairs and I left contact information for a return call.


Seventh contact: I left a message for the Director of Constituent Affairs who had not returned my call after a month.

March 7, 2003

I left a message for Kelly, the Director of Constituent Affairs, who had not returned my call after a month. I again left contact information.


Eighth contact: Another month had passed without contact and I again spoke to Constituent Affairs.

April 11, 2003

After another month had passed without any contact from Governor Davis' office, I called Constituent Affairs and again spoke with Alena. She again could not answer any of my questions and simply restated Governor Davis' position rather than answering my questions as to the basis of his position. She said that all information available on this topic is available on Governor Davis' web site which is another way of saying that he does not wish to engage this debate even with those that he claims to represent. My cell phone connection dropped at this point.


Ninth contact: The Governor does not have to justify any position that he takes according to his very own Constituent Affairs Department.

April 11, 2003

After my dropped cell phone connection I again called Constituent Affairs and spoke with Amber. She also simply repeated his position and could not answer the question as to when/why Governor Davis believes that personhood begins. I mentioned that even Justice Blackmun argued in Roe that if the unborn are persons then there is no right to an abortion but she still made no effort to any this most central question of Governor Davis' position.

When asked, "Is it sufficient for the Governor to take a position and offer no justification for it?" she said, "Yes." I repeated the question and received the same answer.

I said that this was a far cry from the Lincoln/Douglas debates where they debated the issue of slavery for more than 20 hours concerning "settled" law. She had no reply and simply repeated the Governor's position.

I asked her if she felt that Lincoln was wrong in opposing the "settled" law of slavery and she could not answer. I asked that if the unborn are persons are they not also covered by the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. She could not answer and yet fetal personhood is central to this issue.

She essentially said that there would be no more information available on this topic for me.

Governor Davis' own e-mail to me stated, "An informed and engaged citizenry is essential to the democratic process" and yet the policy of his Constituent Affairs Department is clearly opposed to the Governor's own stated principle. An engaged citizenry is only possible if both parties will engage.

 

Governor Davis, please follow through on your own stated principle and engage the debate.



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