Political discourse is ruled by both facts and feelings

Political friction begins by reducing the other side through labels, but maybe political soothing can begin by respecting the other side through labels.

Political discourse is ruled by both facts and feelings

Logan Zeppieri, Opinions Editor

“Facts do not care about your feelings,” has become a tried and true method of conservative politics. You give me the facts and I will give you my opinion. Of course, the implication is that the other side believes something like, “Feelings do not care about your facts.”

No one would confess to believing that and surely no one would defend that thesis. The response comes in the form of rhetorical questions such as, “Why do you not accept those who are different from you?” or “Why do you not care of the poor?” The questions do not point to the facts, but they do not explicitly ignore the facts. The questions point towards your feelings.

This was most poignantly presented during the Kavanaugh hearings. The political right trumpeted, “Where is the evidence?” The political left demanded, “Why can’t they believe her?” The label was again easily applied—one side cared about the facts and one side cared about the feelings.

It is a clean and simple labeling game—and it is killing our political discourse.


The first step in resolving our political discourse is to refer to each other in enriching terms. I think it would be hard for each side to replace the fact-feeling divide with the truth-love divide. We all want both labels, but they are not so easily dismissed because each label has something desirable.

For the political left, it is hard to admit the political right value truth. It is perhaps even more difficult for the political right to admit they often sacrifice love to obtain the truth. Furthermore, it will be difficult for the political right to say the political left values love, but it will perhaps be even more difficult for the political left to admit they often sacrifice truth to obtain love.

And I think that is the very nature of the proposition. The labels, though they are still labels, requires us to not only acknowledge something is missing of ourselves, but it also requires us to acknowledge something desirable in the other side.  


I find it ironic that the condemnation for both sides can be found in the same passage—1 Corinthians 13. To those who sacrifice love for the sake of truth, we read in 1 Corinthians 13:2,

“If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

Truth without love is nothing. However, to those who sacrifice truth for the sake of love, we also read in 1 Corinthians 13:6,

“[Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.”

Some may read both verses and come to the conclusion, “Well, without love we have nothing, but without rejoicing in the truth we still have something of love.” They missed the point. The force of Paul’s statement is this—If you do not rejoice in the truth, you do not have love.

Truth without love is nothing. Love without truth is nothing.  

As Timothy Keller writes in his book “The Meaning of Marriage,”

“Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.”

Marriage is the most adequate metaphor for our condition in the American republic. Both sides are found in a relationship where divorce is not an option, and so the path forward must be cohabitation. The first step could be viewing not only ourselves as lacking something, but also to see something desirable in the other side.

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