30 Sep
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When Debating a Liberal, Remember: More is More

A liberal family member of mine decided on a recent occasion to begin a political discussion with me.  This fellow, call him Frank, is perfectly well aware that I am a conservative and an activist.  Frank is a committed liberal and has no first hand experience with politics.

I’ve had many such conversations – debates, really – with Frank and people like him.  I was under no illusion our conversation would end with either of us of changing our minds; but still, I don’t mind a spirited give and take, and I indulged Frank and defended my conservative position wholeheartedly.

Like too many liberals, Frank knows very little about politics and actual political happenings, but knows the current Democrat talking points that present themselves on television and in newspapers.  So far as I can tell, he has spent no significant amount of time as a student of the classics of political science, economics, or history.  His knowledge as it relates to current jobless statistics, economic forecasts, political poll numbers, is wanting.

After spending 5 minutes arguing facts and theory against talking points, I’d had had enough.  I realized that there was no fun left in the discussion when Frank accused me of being “insane,” and “an amateur,” and stubbornly refused to acknowledge something tha everybody knows – namely, that the Democrat party is losing the support of the electorate due primarily to their mishandling of the economy, and hence facing a very tough election season.  As I had been leaving his apartment when the conversation first began, I excused myself shortly thereafter and walked out the door.

Upon some reflection, it occurred to me later that possibly the most effective way to deal with a liberal like Frank, who truly thinks he knows better, is not to challenge him with the facts.  This well-meaning approach will only leave one frustrated, as the modern liberal and conservative tend to talk passed one another, perhaps as a result of the rift in news reporting.  Rather, it is to ask the liberal to elaborate, for 5 full minutes, his philosophy of governance. While it’s easy to sound clever spouting the latest “gotcha” phrase, it’s a lot harder to actually explain, in an intelligent manner, a thumbnail sketch of how a legitimate government should be established and administered by a free people.

Just imagine the liberal trying:

“I believe people should have healthcare.  I believe that the right to decent medical care is not only a human right, but that a failure to do so is a perversion of justice.  I don’t believe we should be spending any money on missiles until all American are properly fed.  I believe that rich people are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer, and it’s the government’s job to address the ever-growing inequality.  I believe the government should create jobs by deficit spending until the economy fully recovers.  I believe it was too much capitalism that caused our recession, and the government must have a larger role overseeing the private sector to prevent fraud and abuse.”

Yes, all that may sound impressive, but consider what went unmentioned.

Among them: Federalism, elections, constitutionality, private property rights, a moral and predictable system of law, equality under law, responsible budgeting by government, the demonstrated utter failure of Soviet, Chinese, and Latin American Communism, and class system created by economienda in Latin America.  Moreover, it doesn’t say anything about how individual rights and protections against government are established by long standing moral and legal traditions, such as those that exist in religion and English common law respectively.  Nothing is mentioned about the attempt to limit and check the ambitions of government by establishing three co-equal branches, each checking each others’ ambition.  The Bill of Rights, the bedrock of American civil liberties, is unmentioned.  Notably missing is an explanation of society as distinct from government, and the natural tendencies of peaceable voluntary cooperation to create a vibrant, harmonious, and flourishing economy.  The idea that taxation past a certain low level has diminishing returns is not refuted, nor defended.  Perhaps most tellingly, there is a fundamental failure to address the idea that individuals possess certain rights by virtue of birth that government cannot violate in its normal course of affairs.  The basis for American civil rights as understood since our founding is not even a thought for the liberal.

So, next time you find yourself in a position like mine, remember this: More is More.  Give the liberal an opportunity to expose himself as ignorant for a few good minutes.  When he is finished, succinctly point out that in the course of enumerating his substantial list of grievances and complaints, he forgot all his elementary civics.

One last suggestion:  It may be painful to hear 5 minutes of nonsensical attacks on conservative politics.  Should you decide to task the liberal with expounding his views in some depth, you may want to consider restricting this individual from complaining about Republicans, and resorting to class warfare-like provocative statements.  Given these stipulations, the argument will be over within seconds.

DISCLAIMER: This post and the contents thereof are the views of only the author identified immediately above and do not necessarily represent the views of the New York Young Republican Club (the "NYYRC"), its officers or its members. The NYYRC expressly disclaims responsibility for the contents thereof and by its charter documents may not, and does not, endorse any candidate for any office, except in a general election.

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