When I engage in political conversations with people who disagree with me – whether in person or on Internet comment boards – I often don’t get rebuttals that directly address my point.
Too often, when I saw or heard criticism of Obama, the response went right to either “Well, Bush got us into this” or “Bush’s policies led to that.” The implication was that if you have an issue with one of Obama’s policies, you must have been a Bush supporter – which is irrelevant.
It’s time people realize that it’s possible, and often the case, that the people who didn’t like Obama’s policies also didn’t like Bush’s policies.
To many conservatives, Bush was far too liberal, if not socialist, on most domestic matters. Congressional Republicans supported him because the President is the leader of its political party, and etiquette suggests backing the party leader. And for their support of Bush (or weakness in not standing up to him), it was conservatives who stayed home during the 2006 congressional elections – sending a message to conservative politicians.
Bush suffered abysmal approval ratings in his last few years in office, but that’s not because of liberals. They never supported him and wouldn’t have no matter what he did. It was conservative disapproval that drove his numbers below 30%. His policies were far too liberal for the conservative base, but liberals were too distracted by that “R” after his name to see it.
Aside from blaming Bush, another conversational tactic I’ve heard too many times is that “the debate is over.” I’ve heard this as it relates to global warming, connections between Bin Laden and Iraq and the role of capitalism in the current economic collapse.
Debates are really never over. In the case of global warming, whatever the truth is, there’s plenty of reasonable evidence being brought to light by the “deniers” that suggests the debate is far from over – not the least of which being that the earth has been going through warming and cooling periods – significant climate changes – well prior to the industrial age.
To say the debate is over is essentially putting your fingers in your ears screaming “I’m right, and you’re wrong” over and over again. Just because you won’t listen to the counter arguments, it doesn’t establish, in any way, that they’re not valid.
Another tired line I hear from people when confronted with a fact, story or comment that takes issue with their beliefs is “where did you hear that?” The implication being that wherever you got your information must be an established (and discredited, in their eyes) conservative source for news and information.
Attacking the credibility of the source is simple misdirection away from the story or point being put forth. If your source is Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, that doesn’t mean it is automatically false.
In fact, I would assert that the responsibility lies with the one questioning the source not to debunk the source, but the actual story or point being made. If Fox only reports lies, then I guess they were intentionally distorting when they reported that Obama had won the 2008 election.
Fox recently reported a story about a well-known climatologist who was claiming an ice age was coming. For those who believe in global warming, the response I saw most consistently was “well, that came from Fox.” But that doesn’t address the evidence written about in the story. To truly address and discredit the story, one must actually consider and discuss the story, not the source.
Another trick I hear too often is setting up some straw man to knock down that has no basis in fact. The media is great at this. Unlike many previous presidents, President Trump has given the media a great deal of access to him. And every time, the corporate Democrat media attacks him with a series of “gotcha” questions or questions that start with the assumption that he’s doing everything wrong.
As a result, Trump, who never lets an attack go unanswered, corrects them, belittles them, or demeans them. And if he’s not attacking them, he’s touting his own accomplishments. It’s why he uses Twitter. Because if he doesn’t, who will?
To complete this cycle, the media then reports how mean and rude Trump is, and how all he does is brag. They created the condition, and then reported on the results as if they didn’t create it, in the first place.
That some can’t accurately articulate what it is that conservatives want to do as an alternative betrays either their lack of understanding of conservative principles and proposals or their willingness to lie about conservatism for fear of losing to it, lest people come to understand what it proposes.
Being told I’m using “talking points” is another quip I hear from those who have little desire to actually address the arguments and concepts I’m putting forward. Somehow, by using “talking points,” I’m not thinking for myself. Even if that were the case, the “talking point,” if it’s so silly and easily disregarded, should be easy to refute.
But seldom do you see the talking points addressed. Ironically, telling someone they’re using “talking points” is, in itself, using a “talking point.”
In October of 2010, Stephen Colbert hosted a rally called “Keep Fear Alive.” Like many, he believed conservatives – especially the talking head conservatives on television and radio – were advancing by fear mongering and making everyone think that Obama and the Democrats were going to take over the country. And, in fact, I’d heard more than one prominent conservative wonder aloud if there will even be elections in November the way Obama is going.
The charges of fear mongering are simply a way to belittle the conservative point of view and an attempt to dismiss it as having no meat to it beyond scaring people. Conservatives are not motivated by fear. They’re motivated to defend what they see as attacks on our freedoms.
That may sound grandiose and conspiratorial. But in just the past few years, we’ve been told we can’t have salt, we can’t eat trans-fats, we can only have toilets that use x amount of water, we can only have shower heads that use x gallons per second (or however you measure it), you can only smoke in certain areas, etc.
Until Trump, there were hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations written by the government telling us what we can and cannot do. They do not believe we can think for ourselves and make sound decisions.
When something you care deeply about is threatened, there is a very real and reasonable element of fear involved. If someone was at your door, and he was going to come in and kill you, would you be fear mongering if you told your spouse “don’t open that door or he’ll come in and kill us?” It would simply be a warning based on evidence and observation.
Some would say the media or conservative talkers are playing on fears to build popularity and make money. But I’ve listened to our read many of those same pundits for years – well before even Clinton was elected, and I believe they truly feel the same fears that many of us do… because they didn’t used to.
In the film Shutter Island, there’s a character that everyone decided is crazy. She was telling the main character how when there’s an effort to make you look crazy, there’s not much you can do about it. The more you say you’re not crazy to people who believe you might be, the crazier you look. If you have to say you’re not crazy, you start to look irrational.
When you accuse someone of fear mongering, their protests start making them look similarly irrational. Instead of denying it, conservatives should take their fear mongering a step further and conclude with their optimism about what could be possible if we started implementing conservative solutions. Conservatism is about optimism and faith in the future. Labeling us fear mongers is similar to labeling us racists. Its goal is to distract people from the merits of what we’re saying.
The penultimate response to arguments they don’t like, for the most far-left liberals, is to compare the people who believe the line of thinking being put forth to Nazis. What’s ironic about comparing conservatives to Nazis is that it was the Nazis who were for government run healthcare, socialism, environmentalism, anti-smoking laws, gun control, animal rights and were generally anti-capitalist – all of which sums up the liberal agenda.
These are just some of the tricks that stunt political conversations in this country. When you hear these tricks being used against you in a discussion of issues – whether the person is liberal or conservative –challenge them to address the validity of the point you’re making. It’s the only way you’ll ever make headway in possibly changing minds.