This was rhetorical analysis of a press release from a politician I am not disclosing, but in the process I got off track, and the essay turned into a rant on people using the phrase "common sense" to justify the ridiculous bills, not just the ridiculous demands of the initial politician.
I cannot help but notice a trend in politicians using the adjective "common sense" to advocate for a legislation, typically that of a controversial nature which there is weak evidence to support the need for or its effectiveness. Before anyone plays the bipartisan blame game, statists of both the "left" and "right" engage in this rhetorical tactic, and both should be ridiculed by their constituents for doing so. You can see this description being used in legislation from expanding the PATRIOT Act (or as I like to call it, the Unpatriotic Act)
, to gun control
However, from the perspective of a writer, I do admire the way this tactic is used. It acts as an insult to the political opponent by declaring that they lack the intellectual competency to effectively govern, while also gaining moral high ground in declaring yourself the arbitrator of wisdom; the person who knew all along that this was the right path, but everyone else was too stupid to notice it until you came along. As well, like always with political factions, the enemy party is the devil. It mimics cult-like behavior in a strange way with followers of these political parties, but that is a story for another day. Of course, that is entirely fallacious thus should not be taken seriously in logical discussions, but a lot of people have no will to be logical.
Another reason politicians may use this slogan, I believe, as a means of historical appeal. One document which played a significant role in the American Revolution was entitled "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine. The ironic thing is that, if the politician is intending for historical appeal, most of the time "common sense" is used to describe legislation, said legislation is almost always an expansion of power. Thomas Paine was not a supporter of big governments, he viewed government as a necessary evil, thus would likely be cautious of such expansions. To quote the pamphlet, "Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher."
So if a politician intends to use this historical appeal to sway support for their power grabs, is that not hypocritical of them?
By simply declaring your argument as common sense is though you may have attracted more people with a bleeding heart type personality or people who feel self-conscious about their intellect, but you do not make an argument for why it is the appropriate action. Most politicians accompany their so-called "common sense" legislation with reasons, though they may be supported by fallacious claims. However, I commonly see supporters of these legislations not have an argument, instead cite the current year or claiming the legislation to be common sense; neither the current year
or a declaration of common sense are arguments.
Saying that your new law is common sense has no base to it. You might as well be saying, "this law is super cool;" it lacks substance. But I expect for the politicians who represent me to say something with substance, that is unrealistic I suppose. I guess I will just have to settle with these statists who claim to stand for liberty, but in reality they only do when it looks pretty.
Now you may be asking yourselves, "how do I boast about my bill without using stupid slogans." Simple, don't. It is more logical to brag about including number lines on the bill than to cite your bill as "common sense" as a reason for why it should be supported by the public or political opponents.