How to Argue with a Liberal
Voice-over: And now, Forced Perspectives with Buzz Clearcut.
(Remainder spoken by Buzz Clearcut.)
As a conservative, arguing with liberals must sometimes feel like a complete waste of time and energy. You can make your point over and over again and yet find the argument inevitably circling back to the same places for yet another round, as if you hadn't said anything at all. It can be immensely frustrating. Yet I believe that a simple understanding of the different, "diverse" ways in which liberals think may be illuminating, and may come to the assistance of compassionate conservatives who believe in the importance of helping the liberal "mind" to gain a more fruitful relationship with reality. With the expenditure of a little patience, empathy, and understanding, you can convince even the most ardent liberal of the urgency of discarding his erroneous beliefs in favor of those that are more acceptable.
The first problem you will likely run into is that liberals are often very deficient in their sense of authority – that is, regardless of the fact that you may prove to them, conclusively, that a certain fact has been sanctioned by the very most appropriate official, or someone whose credentials are entirely impeccable, the liberal may look at you as if you had just suggested that the Pope should act as arbiter in a discussion about abortion. (under breath: Why they should have a problem with this, I do not know; if you can't trust the Pope, who can you trust?)
If you are truly determined to try to pound some understanding into a liberal's head, then, the only apparent means at this point is to go to all the tedious trouble of finding some so-called "objective data" – only with these credentials attached does the carefully shuttered liberal mind allow new ideas to enter. This may seem like reinventing the wheel, as obviously the authority you cited earlier has already done the research, found the facts, and evaluated them using the full benefit of his experience and education, in a manner that is obviously far superior to any analysis or understanding by unqualified individuals; it is simply an unfortunate and unpleasant fact of the liberal mentality that he needs the crutch of believing that the truth you are trying to convey has been somehow anointed by having so-called "supporting evidence" attached to it. Without this ritual of purification, he simply won't listen. It doesn't matter if you are quoting the President himself; he has an obsessive need to question, and – like a dog which must circle three times before lying down – he cannot rest until that obsession has been satisfied.
A related problem is that liberals have no respect for tradition. To a liberal, it doesn't matter if a custom has existed since the dawn of Western Civilization; they are willing to discard tradition like you or I would take out the trash, if they no longer find it personally gratifying. In defending our civilization from having its very foundations undercut, then, you will once again have to reinvent the wheel, doing the work – which the principle of division of labor has taught us is best left to experts – of rehashing history and explaining, slowly and carefully, just how it is that up is up, the sky is blue, and homosexuality is against God's will.
Another common mistake is to assume that a liberal will know when he is beaten. You may think you have scored a clear victory by not only citing the appropriate authority on each matter but utterly humiliating the liberal in the process – and yet he will keep coming back for more punishment.
What you must understand here is that liberals have no sense of dignity. They are quite willing to be humiliated and taunted in the service of their righteousness. Crawling through slime and offal does not offend them; living the lives they do, of course, many of them are quite accustomed to it.
However, although they are quite willing to subject themselves to it in the name of their many causes, they will typically become argumentative and difficult if they believe others can be blamed for it. In other words, you have to be careful: when you are rubbing a liberal's nose in his own mess, you must be sure not to let him see you doing it; otherwise it will cost you points in the dominance game which they laughably call "reasoned discussion". This is a common tactical mistake made by many fine conservatives who have taken on the often odious task of debating with a liberal, put up a good fight, found themselves victorious despite overwhelming odds and the complicity of the liberal media elite in clouding the issues – only to lose in the eyes of public opinion, on the technicality of having not "fought fair". Clever manipulations of logic which would clearly demonstrate your intellectual superiority to any rational opponent are seen, to the weak-minded liberal who cannot tolerate the existence of anything superior, as a form of cheating. Thus, in the name of "fairness", you must fight with one hand tied behind your back at all times, deprived of your main weapon.
Another problem related to this is that liberals do not respect strength. They are innately weak and indecisive, and they instinctively work to tear down anything stronger or better than themselves. Like hyenas circling a wounded lion, they will nip and slash when you are not looking, until you finally succumb to their superior numbers. You will again hear the pathetic bleats of "fairness!" and "equality!", knocking your legs out from under you as you turn to face each new assailant.
Fortunately, you can turn this to your advantage. What you have to do can be somewhat humiliating, but I am afraid it is the only way: you must – temporarily, of course – lower yourself to their level, go down among them, and behave as they behave. Only then will they accord you peer status, allow you provisional membership in their in-group, and accord you anything approaching the dignity of civil discourse with them.
You too must speak in terms of "fairness" and "equality", regardless of the obvious absurdity. Liberals live in a world where everything is as they wish it was, rather than how it really is, and they insist on setting any discussion in these terms; you too must chant these sacred words, or else be cast out as an unbeliever.
Fortunately, it is possible – though difficult – to rephrase a rational worldview in terms comprehensible to the liberal mind. I present to you a brief guide to liberal doublespeak, in the hope that it may aid your attempts to convince liberals that you are interested in communicating with them, despite the known impossibility of such communication.
- authority: As liberals do not respect authority per se, we have to explain the concept in simple terms that even a liberal can understand. What seems to work best is the following little story:
Imagine that you are trying to make a decision about some complicated and important thing. Along comes a person who has far more experience with this thing than you. Should you take his opinion seriously? If the answer is "yes" (which of course it is), then that person is an authority. If that person then graciously advises you on your decision, giving you the benefit of his years of experience, then of course you need to go along with whatever they say, because they are the authority.
It's certainly true that sometimes we have to act on our own, but most of the time, thank goodness, when it comes to complicated questions of government policy or what's right and wrong, we have experienced authorities to show us the right way.
Liberals, of course, being not the most mentally agile athletes in the gymnasium, may object to even this plain and simple truth; lacking something of a sense of the abstract, and above all lacking in trust and faith, they must actually see concrete proof of all qualifications. As if that wasn't enough, they will often pick apart those hard-earned qualifications, feasting greedily upon any inconsistencies they may find, until there is seemingly nothing left. While this sort of behavior can be very difficult to tolerate, it can ultimately pay off when you find the "right" authority whose qualifications the liberals, for reasons we may never understand, choose to accept.
- tradition is more difficult; often the best you can do is explain it as a sort of "scientific experiment" (another magical incantation known to turn locks in the liberal mind) supported by thousands of years of "data". This can be a double-edged sword, however, as liberals will use some "scientific" mumbo-jumbo about "controls" and "eliminating bias" to claim that a tradition, rather than proving its rightness through the survival of its followers against the pitfalls of temptation and adversity, proves somehow that we need "more data" – which is of course a liberal code-phrase for breaking tradition and relaxing social standards. The best course of action is to point out the failures of destroying traditions without a suitable substitute in place. Liberals usually want to throw out tradition in the name of "equality", so you'll need to tread carefully here. When in doubt, use the children. Point out the effect of the libertine message on children and its selfish outcomes: teen sex, teen violence, etc. Liberals really do love children; they're just ignorant of how they're trampled by the promotion of Thug living and promiscuity. You can also dig out some nice hard data gathered during the AIDS epidemic to show homosexual promiscuity. That REALLY makes their eyes bulge, especially when the researchers are gay! Follow it up with a "nowadays, most of them lie to researchers to further political aims" and you may cause them to blow a gasket.
- strength, as such, is a perplexing concept to a liberal; instead of respecting the need for strong leaders, they see anyone stronger or better than themselves as a threat, highlighting their own inferiority. They want a world where, as a well-known liberal radio personality once solemnly declaimed, "all the children are above-average", uniformly arrayed in their mediocrity. You need to point out the "strength" of government in the ways that it really matters. Liberals actually believe that Big Brother is George Bush listening in to our cell phone calls, instead of Child Protective Services taking your kids away on suspicion alone. They don't understand the founding principles of this country, since they are no longer taught in public schools, but you can try to quote Washington to them. "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." If they look confused just get out a dollar bill and explain that these people founded the greatest country in the history of the planet. Tell them power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, that that won't ever change and so government is not the answer and its "strength" to tax our industry and run our lives must be curtailed or there is no freedom. They love freedom, as a concept anyway. Keep hammering that "strength" of the government reduces the power of the people and their freedom. Illustrate this fact with the African American community, who has the most government intervention in their lives and pays the highest price for it.
Possibly the only way to convey the value of strength to a liberal is to ask them: What would happen if we had no strong farmers, to operate the machines which work our nation's great industrial farming complexes? What would happen if we had no strong auto mechanics, capable of winching the heavy engines and wrenching tight the bolts of the automobiles and trucks upon which we depend for our daily lives? And what, more to the point, would happen if we had no strong leaders to command the soldiers holding back the wolf at our gate, whether that gate is here or in some far-off country? I'm sure the liberal response to those points will be at least entertaining.
These are just a few examples of fundamental principles of our society which liberals apparently were not taught (or declined to learn) in grade school. With a little imagination, and some suitable verbal contortions (and perhaps with the aid of appropriate pharmaceuticals) you may be able to re-imagine more such words in liberal terms, thus making it possible – with a great deal of difficulty, and the willingness to sacrifice one's dignity for a greater cause – for liberals to slowly and painfully acquire a better understanding of the world around them, which we can only hope may one day lead to a better world for all of us – in which authority, strength, and tradition are given proper respect, and liberals know their place. Fascism won't come with brown shirts and jackboots; it will come with government enforcement of "good ideas". We can only hope that liberals will open their eyes to the menace of our leviathan government and stop feeding the tyranny of the majority.
I'm Buzz Clearcut, for Forced Perspectives.