In political debate, a “concern” is defined as an argument made by a member of the opposing side that a proposed policy action is not appropriate. A concern is commonly used in Lincoln Douglas debate. A concern is also commonly used during debate on the floor of Congress. The use of this word dates back to the Civil War.
There are two types of advantages or disadvantages that Lincoln Douglas uses in his debates. He uses both negative and positive arguments in his debate and I will discuss both types of arguments in the following paragraphs.
The first type of disadvantage that Lincoln uses is called a “substitute”. In this type of argument, a negative objection is used in place of an equivalent positive objection. For example, if someone were to object that the proposed policy would violate the rights of minorities then they would be substituting their objection for an equal, positive objection that would support the policy. The purpose of the substitute is to make the opposition seem more reasonable.
Another good advantage is the fact that it is often difficult to defend the policy. When this occurs, the person defending the policy may have to fall back on his or her first argument. This is where a “concern” comes into play. As a last resort, the person defending the policy will usually state that he or she was unable to defend the policy at the time the original argument was given.
The second type of disadvantage that Lincoln uses is called a “substitute”. In this instance, the opposing party may raise a valid objection that is the equivalent of the original objection but that is not addressed adequately. For example, if someone were to object that the proposed policy would hurt minority students, the first argument might include a claim that minorities are unable to study because they have to travel long distances to school. This could be countered by stating that the proposed policy would help minorities to study from home which is more affordable. or that the proposed policy is not as discriminatory as the first argument.
When a debate between two parties in politics is at its worst, both sides can sometimes argue with one another using the “concern”substitute” language in order to gain support. If a concern or substitute argument is presented by the party opposing the proposal, it may be used to persuade the other party to change his or her position.
One other disadvantage of this type of argument is that in the political arena it is more difficult to defend the proposal that the other side presents against the proposal that they are offering. In many cases, it is better to simply withdraw the proposal.
In my next articles, I will cover the use of “concern”substitute” in debate. In my third article, I will cover the importance of a “concern” in debate. In that article I will discuss the use of “substitute” in debates.
One final consideration of the debate is that Lincoln’s “concern “language will only be effective if the other party is not able to respond appropriately to the concern that was raised. If the other party raises an objection to the concern that was raised, then the concern will have little to no effect on the debate at all.
In conclusion, I must conclude that there are several major disadvantages that can be used by a politician during a political debate. It is very important to note that each disadvantage is different and that it can be effective in certain situations. However, the greatest disadvantage is that even if a concern or substitute was raised and the other party was unable to respond appropriately, the debate would still not be effective in many situations.
In the end, in some cases the only real disadvantage in a debate is that the discussion will not be productive. However, if the debate is productive, then it will provide some benefit to the politician.