Political Sense
Published in

Political Sense

Eight powerful political debate tactics that Trumpers teach on Facebook*

*Not endorsed by the Harvard College Debating Union

Jeffrey Denny

The political arguments that Trump supporters post on Facebook, especially as they refuse to concede his defeat, have schooled me on how to “own” family and friends if politics come up this holiday season. Eight tips from my learnings:

1. “Disprove my fallacy”

In this political jujitsu, also known as the “Tucker Carlson,” you declare an outrageous falsehood. When challenged, you declare it’s not your job to prove your claim; the onus is on your challenger to disprove it.

Example: Recently on his show, Carlson allowed conservative prankster Charlie Kirk to bald-face declare without a whit of proof that Harvard professor Danielle Allen taught her students that the rise of Trump was similar to the rise of Hitler.

Facing death threats by Carlson fans, Allen emailed him asking for a correction. Her article that Carlson and Kirk cited was published before Trump was even a candidate. “I did not ever compare his election to the rise of Hitler. Not in print, not orally, ever,” Allen wrote.

Carlson demurred: I’m committed to accuracy. You say you’ve never compared Trump’s rise to Hitler’s rise in class. How can we prove that? … I’d be happy to correct the record. Just send me conclusive evidence you’ve never made that comparison while teaching. Thanks.

Smugly brilliant! Guilty until proven innocent. Like in China, Iran, North Korea, Russia or other anti-democratic nations that likely have their own Tucker Carlsons twisting the truth for their tyrants and big money.

2. The “Do your research”

This suggests your challenger hasn’t done the intellectual deep dive you’ve done to make your claim. Example:

“The Democrats stole the election!”

“No, the vote and recounts confirm that no matter what Trump says, Biden won.”

“Wrong, idiot! Do your research!”

In this context, “research” means cherry-picking internet “sources” that back your beliefs, however dubious, debunked and certified bullshit.

Real research, as Merriam-Webster defines, is the “studious inquiry or examination, especially: investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws.”

So be careful throwing the “do your research” tactic when debating with a scientist, academic or research scholar.

3. The “You have your sources and I have mine”

The internet is a robust source of alt-facts and “research” to support anyone’s claims, no matter how verifiably false. Example:

“Climate change is a hoax.”

“Are you kidding? The entire scientific community says we’re melting the planet!”

“That’s what all the stupid, corrupt liberal scientists say! My sources say they’re wrong.”

Then post a link to climate-denying studies sponsored by the Heartland Institute, funded by the Koch Bros. and other fossil-fuel money. Heartland is also infamous for studies funded by the tobacco industry that denied smoking causes cancer.

4. The “Whatabout”

This oldie but goodie is an effective fallback when flailing.

As ThoughtCo.com described, “The tu quoque [and you?] is a type of ad hominem argument in which an accused person turns an allegation back on his or her accuser, thus creating a logical fallacy.”

So whatever terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things Trump did, the Democrats are as bad or worse. Ergo, whatever Trump does is ok, even if you hated when the Democrats did it. Example:

“Thank God Trump lost. He was destroying the presidency, our democracy, our decency and our country.”

“Yeah? Well what about Hunter? What about Hillary? What about Obama, AOC and the Squad, Pelosi, the Socialists, Maxine Waters, the Harvard professors teaching our children to hate America, Antifa, BLM, George Soros, the Steele Dossier, the Deep State ….”

5. The “I’m rubber, you’re glue”

Related to the Whatabout and the classic “I know you are, but what am I?” this debate tactic has been popularized by generations of children, especially schoolyard bullies such as the outgoing president.

“Trump and his family have made millions from their corruption, he’s losing his mind, he’s trying to rig the election, and he abuses women.”

“Wrong! Opposite! Bounces off Trump and sticks to Biden! Biden and his family have made millions from their corruption, he’s lost his mind, he did rig the election, and he abuses women.”

6. The “Self-own”

You can trigger and troll your political enemies by calling them stupid while applying the thought processes of a second-grader who is falling behind. If in writing, you can express your powerful opinions at a second-grade level of grammar, spelling, punctuation and usage that says you’re not quite ready for third grade. Example:

“Your stupid THEIRS NO WAY Biden WON DemoRat libtard its oblivious there cheating liars. Do you’re research!”

Popularized by the outgoing president’s tweets, expressing yourself like a second-grader can end the debate because as millions of frustrated parents know, it’s pointless to argue with a second-grader.

7. The “Blame the media”

While glued to the media, everyone hates the media. Correction: Everyone hates everyone else’s media.

Fox has done a superb job destroying trust in the “mainstream media” — its competition for viewers and ad revenues — to become the #1 “most watched” cable news source.

It’s a nice trick that Fox can declare it’s not the “mainstream media” after being #1 for nearly 20 years with over $2.5 billion in annual revenues and an average 3.3 million prime-time viewers, beating ABC, CBS and NBC.

In any case, if while politically debating you’ve painted yourself into a corner, just blame the media. Example:

“A reporter asked me today why conservatives were initially so skeptical of the threat of the coronavirus. I tried to explain that one of the dangerous consequences of having a totally dishonest left wing news media was that most Americans discounted their hysteria as phony.” — Newt Gingrich

Typical Gingrich brilliance. This was just weeks after Gingrich and his #1 “most-watched” Fox News had blanketed the nation with Trump administration disinformation dismissing the coronavirus as “much less” dangerous than the flu.

Learn from the great Professor Gingrich: Use the media to disinform, then blame the media for disinforming.

Be careful, though: Trashing the mainstream media can make you seem like a hypocrite. Example:

“I don’t believe the mainstream media.”

“But the mainstream media broke all those stories about Hillary’s emails you believed. Its reporting about Democratic politicians fuels your hate for them. It sounds like you believe the mainstream media only when it reports stuff you believe.”

This leads to the slam-dunk Trumper Facebook debating tactic:

8. The “I believe what I believe”

There’s no comeback. You don’t have to be a research scholar to know that belief trumps all facts, logic and reason.

***

If none of these eight debating tactics work, then simply repeat your claim louder and louder like you’re in a non-English speaking country. That’ll end the debate. You win!

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jeffrey Denny

Jeffrey Denny

A Pullet Surprise-winning writer who always appreciates free chicken.