How Conservatives Lose Debates
Many of us have watched with horror as conservatives have needlessly lost policy debates to uninformed and unworthy adversaries. Why is it that conservatives often lose debates and political battles when they command the most powerful weapons of truth, moral authority, common sense and personal integrity?
There are several reasons, but the primary one is that we persistently underestimate the liberal mind.
The stakes in our nation’s political decisions are costly and severe. Nothing less than life and liberty are put at risk in every major legislative and executive action. Professional sports teams study an opponent’s strategies and tactics before meeting them in competition and only a foolish military leader would choose to engage an enemy without the benefit of valuable reconnaissance.
Policy debates require more than merely a casual understanding of issues. Conservatives are usually prepared with cost figures, moral implications and feasability arguments. But where they often fail is in cross-examination and defense. Conservatives are often unprepared and even shocked to see how their carefully researched facts, common sense approach and moral foundations will be distorted and perverted by a determined and devious adversary.
Conservatives, and especially, Christian conservatives, hold themselves to a high standard of polite and dignified discourse. This is as it should be. Liberals are fond of enforcing this standard to an exacting degree. But they will never submit themselves to its rules, and conservatives are often reluctant to expose the duplicity of Democrats. It’s never impolite, undignified or off-limits to expose the lies and deceit that liberals routinely employ. Exploiting an adversaries weaknesses is proper, fair and laudable when done in an honest and kind manner.
A second trick that conservatives often fail to challenge is liberals’ strategic misuse of terms whereby language terms are abused for the purpose of adding credibility to an empty argument. People who share a common language have a common basis for dialogue. But dishonest folks on the Left extract words from their common uses and insert others into situations where they mean something quite different. The misapplication and misuse of words and phrases reveals their hidden intended definitions.
For example, when liberals speak of common sense gun control, they rarely mean anything commonly understood as sensible. On the contrary, they present oppressive and ineffective gun regulations. When liberals talk of civil rights, they usually mean moral wrongs like homosexuality, illegal immigration or the right to commit an abortion. Abusing words in this way is an effort to throw a cloak of legitimacy over illegitimate policies. It’s a calculated and cunning device of deception.
Conservatives must refuse to stipulate to the liberal lexicon. Accepting flawed terminology is the fastest way to ensure defeat. Liberals use words outside their context to accomplish one of two goals. They either want to exaggerate the impact of their position or weaken that of their conservative opponents. This is why liberals refer to illegal aliens as “undocumented immigrants” and “dreamers,” and it’s the reason that into every political discussion about sexual perversity, a liberal will inject “love” and “civil rights.”
Political discussions with Democrats and media liberals are often like Las Vegas magic shows except that the consequences are far more serious. You know that the pretty young woman in the box is never really going to be sliced in half, but without inside knowledge of how the illusion is performed, you cannot explain the hoax to an uninformed and nearsighted audience whose view is obscured.
Knowledge of the truth comes with personal responsibility inexorably attached. Only an uncaring scoundrel would permit his neighbor to join a poker game with a card shark. In doing so, the fellow could lose his home, his family and even his freedom.
Those who are paying close attention to the unending series of real and phony controversies between President Trump and liberals can learn some valuable lessons in nearly every policy battle and emulate them. These can be employed immediately and in the future in private and public conversations.
President Trump does two things right and he does them consistently. One is that he refuses to be bound by the double-standard of Democrats. He is quick to seize moral authority on the issues that are most important to him, and he defends his ground vigorously.
The second is that he exposes the deceptive characterizations that the Left habitually uses. The president persistently rejects the transparent linguistic machinations of Democrats and media liberals. Mr. Trump does this with kindness when possible, with humor when appropriate and with brutal honesty when necessary.
The United States government is too big, too expensive, too intrusive and too wasteful. It has failed the people who own it. President Trump is working to fix what’s broken and ineffective, but he cannot do the whole job himself. No president can. He needs our help.
Our part is to change the culture. And that begins, not with political activism but with battling against the multitude of lies and deception that created the abominations we see today.
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