In celebration of what an incredible mess the Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates have been, over the course of the next few weeks I will be releasing weekly guides on how to defeat conservative arguments. Though today’s edition will focus on the different goals you can hold while arguing, the following weeks will each cover one conservative tactic and a few strategies to defeat it.
Please note: The goal of this guide is to teach you how to defeat conservative rhetoric by any means necessary. This is not a manual on civil debate, nor is it concerned with making / keeping friends. In my view, conservatism is an existential threat to human well-being. It should not be coddled or converted; it must be crushed.
If you are worried that these tactics are too mean, too dirty, or too effective, ask yourself this: Would you would rather have gay marriage banned after a rigorous civil debate, or protected after a petty, uncivilized brawl?
If you’re still with me, let’s begin.
Whether you know it or not, every argument achieves some combination of three goals: convincing, humiliating, or frustrating. Each of these goals apply best to different situations and require different tactics to achieve. In order to defeat conservative arguments, you need to be intentional about which goal you’re trying to achieve, and pursue it single-mindedly.
With that in mind, let’s go over each:
It is easy to believe that every argument is had in good faith with the intention of bringing the other side around to your way of thinking. However, depending on the situation, this can be a naïve belief which conservatives are all too willing to take advantage of.
You should only try to convince a conservative when you are arguing without an audience, only if you believe they can/will engage with you in good faith (ie they won’t lie to you to win), and only if you are willing to make yourself vulnerable to cheap shots. Frankly, in the age of Trump and Q-Anon, the circumstances that allow for a debate like this are incredibly rare.
Pursue at your own risk.
Though hardly a rosy way to argue, humiliation is the most common goal of conservative debaters, and must be adopted by leftists more frequently if we want to defeat them.
Humiliation is the best goal to adopt when arguing in front of an audience — once people are watching, you should focus on showing your opponent to be a cruel fraud (as all conservatives are), rather than allowing an ideology based in white supremacy and fiscal homicide to present itself as reasonable. If achieved, this goal will make conservatism look like an embarrassing and poorly-considered position to hold, and as a result, will make your audience more resistant to conservative talking points.
Arguing with the goal of frustration is not about proving an opponent wrong, nor is it about showing their beliefs to be bad. It is about wasting their time, and frankly, making them feel uncertain about themselves such that they halt (however temporarily) their more harmful actions and rhetoric.
More often than not, arguments with conservatives happen in private and without any attempts to argue civilly. Whether an uncle at Thanksgiving or a Q-Anon Tweeter, these are conservatives whose hatred of the left is based on instinct and a fundamental rejection of reality. In all likelihood, they cannot be convinced, and if they can be, it will require a ruthless dismantling of their worldview to accomplish. Because of this, the best you can hope to do is waste their time and energy — the guerilla warfare of debate.
With these goals in mind, you are now prepared to start examining specific conservative tactics and how best to counter them. Next week’s article will review one of the most common and frustrating conservative tactics — argument ad hypocrisy.
Read part 2 here: