Friday, January 23, 2015

Appeal to Popularity Examples: 2012

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2012 Appeal to Popularity
"Democrats seem to have neutralized the traditional G.O.P. advantage on social issues, so that the election really was a referendum on economic policy. And what voters said, clearly, was no to tax cuts for the rich, no to benefit cuts for the middle class and the poor."
-- Columnist Paul Krugman, November 30, 2012.

Comment: Krugman is claiming that Democrats have a mandate to enact certain policies. But his argument presumes that people who voted for Democrats did so without any caveats or misgivings about their economic policies. Plus, Republicans were given control of the House of Representatives in the election, and their opposition to the economic policies of Democrats was also clearly stated. So, do they have a mandate to block Democrats? And vice versa? Or did votes instead provide a mandate for compromise? Maybe no mandate at all was given. Krugman's remarks might also be an appeal to popularity.

"But you know who doesn't want entitlement reform? Voters. Democratic voters, independent voters, and, yes, Republican voters. The Washington Post / ABC News poll asked voters about raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 proposal that has been floated by Republicans in Congress. 67% of people oppose raising the Medicare eligibility age, including 71% of Democrats, 62% of independents, and 68% of Republicans. 68% of Republican voters oppose a Medicare reform proposal being floated by congressional Republicans."
-- TV pundit Lawrence O'Donnell, November 29, 2012.

Comment: First, this is a hasty generalization. Just because a majority of voters oppose raising the age of Medicare eligibility doesn't mean they oppose other Medicare reforms. Second, O'Donnell's use of opinion polls seems to be making an appeal to popularity. Also, by pointing out that Republicans (who O'Donnell frequently opposes), agree with him, O'Donnell seems to be making an "even my opponents agree" argument.

"Sen. Bernie Sanders from Vermont has spoken on this program about the need to protect programs for the middle class in debt negotiations. Sen. Sanders [I-VT] released this statement to the Ed Show tonight: "What [presidential advisor] David Plouffe has stated deeply concerns me. Despite Mr. Plouffe's assertions, the American people have been clear, both through their votes in the election and in poll after poll after poll. At a time when the middle class is disappearing and the number of people living in poverty is at an all-time high, the American people have demanded that there be no benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and that the wealthiest people and largest corporations in this country, who are doing phenomenally well, must be asked to play a significant role in reducing the deficit." Here, here, Bernie! I'm on board with that! The public agrees with Sen. Sanders, I'm not the only one. In the latest CNN poll, 56% of Americans believe that taxes for the wealthy should be raised to help pay for programs such as Medicare and Medicaid."
-- TV pundit Ed Schultz, November 26, 2012.

Comment: Citing an opinion poll that claims 56% support for a positions indicates a majority, but does it indicate what Americans want as a whole? Plus, is Schultz making an appeal to popularity?

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