Idle-Talk and "Experience" vs. "Change"

In Being and Time, Heidegger discusses a phenomenon called idle-talk, a mode of discourse that is characteristic of the average everyday Being of Dasein. Idle-talk, as an ontical phenomenon, disseminates information to Dasein so it doesn’t have to interpret the phenomenon for himself.

How does this relate to our current presidential election? All one has to do is look at the whole “experience-vs-change” dualism that has been constructed by both the candidates and the punditry. In this neatly constructed narrative, Hillary is the candidate of “experience” while Obama is the candidate for “change.” Indeed this narrative has been accepted as “true” such that polls indicate that voters have now bought into the dualism.

The salient feature of idle-talk, according to Heidegger, is its ability to “reveal” the truth to those engaged in and encompassed by idle talk such that the content of idle-talk become “the truth”, regardless of whether the content is actually true or not.

And anyone who actually does a little research should know that this narrative of experience-vs-change is patently false and has no purchase on reality. In this column by Timothy Noah on Slate, he examines the Hillary camp’s claims to experience and shows that, all things considered, she is no more experienced than Obama is. In fact, all three major Democratic candidates have about equal levels of experience.

So yet again idle-talk distorts the truth, and maybe not even intentionally or maliciously. But the ultimate danger is that voters who have bought into this false dilemma of experience-or-change will not make good decisions in the voting booth.


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