Several weeks ago, while on an annual fly-fishing trip with several other authors (we were in Idaho this time), we engaged in a late-night alcohol-fueled discussion about politics. Being the only right-of-center guy in our group -- the others hail from right and left coasts -- it was three against one, just the way I like it (I'm kidding, but I held my own).
As the argument grew louder and more heated -- but never personal or vicious which is why we remain friends -- they went on about how much they liked and admired Obama and despised the evil Mormon wife-killer and tax-cheat Romney, I began to note a "tell" in their arguments that I've noticed before and which became more pronounced as the night went on.
One of them would say something like, "I feel Obama has done the best he could given the hand he was dealt..."
Or, "I feel like the super-rich should pay more in taxes..."
I would respond by saying, "I think it's wrong to try to make our country more like Europe..."
Or, "I think a thirty-five percent tax rate is just too high if we want the economy to grow..."
Blah-blah-blah. You know the arguments. But what I noted was the tell: Lefties feel and Righties think. Obviously, this is not news. The left is emotion-based and the right is logic-based. Both sides are pretty sure they're on the correct side.
Words mean things, and the choice of words reveals quite a lot. When someone starts a statement by saying, "I feel..." I prepare myself for a bowl full of mush. But when someone says, "I think..." I listen. I may disagree, but I listen.
Sometimes, I hear someone right-of-center say, "I feel..." --with all due respect to Mr. Long on the Ricochet podcast, for example --and it throws me off. I chalk it up to being surrounded by lefties and hearing it so much that it bleeds into common language.
By beginning a sentence with "I feel..." the person speaking has made a choice to frame the statement in emotion, not logic -- unless, of course, the statement is about feelings ("I feel kind of ashamed for calling out Mr. Long on his own website.") Which is okay.
What do you think? Is "I think..." vs. "I feel..." the most obvious "tell" in the language when it comes to determining someone's political viewpoint?