I’m always intrigued by debate, persuasion technique, and how people think. I decided to write this article after watching the right totally fail at understanding any of those elements when they try to argue with or debate leftists. I am not just talking about Joe Blow down the street either; I watch professional right-wing pundits and hosts make mistake after mistake when engaging in any conversation with the left. For Exhibit A, I’m going to use one of the top conservative commentators in the world: Ben Shapiro. His favorite quote, one he or his followers retweet nearly every day is this:
“Facts don’t care about your feelings.”
This quote displays such a fundamental misunderstanding of human psychology that I can barely figure out where to start tearing it apart. First of all, if that were true, we wouldn’t even be having most of these debates. The fact that we even discuss whether or not your baby can choose it’s gender illustrates how utterly divorced from reality that line of thinking is. Any social psychologist on the planet will tell you that facts play very little role in our decision-making processes. As shown in this article, our biases shape our worldview, then we find the facts that suit our vision. Every single thing the left does is predicated on feelings, and that’s why they’ve managed to shift the country further and further to the left over the last 40 years. Ben is overwhelmingly more intelligent than myself and most others and knows far more relevant facts than I do. Yet, he understands virtually nothing about the 3rd Dimension of how humans make decisions and recites facts and statistics ad nauseam despite it being the least persuasive argument possible.
Conservatives have watched as the country has continued it’s slide toward the left, frustrated knowing that they had the facts on their side, and still losing. If you need evidence that facts don’t matter in the least, ask any top tier salesperson. They will tell you that the specifications of whatever product don’t mean a thing if you can get the person to “feel” that their life would be enriched by whatever product they are selling. Take Apple, for example, every product they make has technically worse specifications on paper than competing products, yet they are the biggest company on the planet. They can convince people that their products would materially enrich their lives, not try to persuade based on the size of the processor or hard drive.
Reliance on facts is one areas conservatives have failed to persuade the country; another is pointing out hypocrisy. Conservatives are addicted to pointing out double standards and hypocrisy, and the left doesn’t care one iota. Here is a sample you’ve heard a million times:
“Oh if a Republican did (insert Democrat scandal) can you imagine the outrage?”
I hear that at least 50 times a day on Fox News and Twitter, and it is an absolutely meaningless argument. The left believes they are in an existential war, and they act accordingly. They ignore facts, weaponize empathy, don’t care about hypocrisy, and have virtually no ethics; yet they have won and shifted the country left repeatedly on nearly every issue. Think of it: In this country, we can actually give nine year olds hormone treatment to change their gender. That should tell you all you need to know about the power of feelings over facts. Another argument that Republicans lose at repeatedly is this:
“They don’t have any ideas, all they have is identity politics.”
Yes, that’s correct. And yet, they still win. Why? Because identity politics and outrage culture has worked for them for 40 years, so they are not going to stop any time soon. Also, the demographics of the country have changed to the point where identity politics is becoming MORE effective, not less, as the years go by. There is one incontrovertible fact that every Republican better get through their head right now, or risk losing the country forever:
You are playing by a different set of rules. Get over it, and get better.
Here are the rules:
1. Facts don’t matter as much as you think.
2. Double standards and hypocrisy mean nothing.
3. Statistics don’t persuade anyone.
4. You can be fired, doxxed, or de-platformed for right-wing speech.
5. They get away with things you won’t.
6. Feelings trump facts, virtually every time.
7. You will be called racist when they have no other argument.
If you are going to argue with the left, you have to play their game, and be smarter than they are AT THE SAME TIME. In their mind, you don’t just have ideological differences; you are evil. You are trying to stop them from the perfect little fantasy utopia they have built in their mind, and that makes you a threat. So then, how do you argue effectively with a leftist?
1. Never back down or apologize. Laura Ingraham just found out that an apology means nothing to a leftist, as even after she apologized for insulting David Hogg, they proceeded to continue trying to end her career. Leftists routinely do far worse than what Laura did, but as I mentioned: The rules are different. Do not back down, always be on offense. If you are defending, you already accepted their frame and are losing. This is why they are so willing to play the race card: Republicans have backed down for years every time they do it, so why not continue?
2. Play the Empathy game yourself. They will try to tell a sad story to get you to concede a point. They may even cry. When they do, flip it around on them and do the same thing. Be it immigration, health care, or guns have a specific story that evokes empathy, such as the heart-wrenching story of Kate Steinle or Jamiel Shaw.
3. Go to the root of issues. They love to play surface games, such as blaming guns for issues that are cultural. For example, get them to acknowledge that there was a time in America where we had infinitesimal mass shootings, thus undermining their gun argument. This requires a more in-depth analysis on your part to understand issues at a higher level. Read my article on the cultural depression, or watch my videos on the topic.
4. Get Specific. They try to play word games using vague terms to communicate something they believe. Nail them down to specifics. They will dodge, filibuster, and evade. Force them to answer a tough, specific question. When Russian collusion comes up, they use words like murky, possibly, maybe, etc. Nail them down to the central issue: Do you believe Donald Trump worked with Vladimir Putin to subvert America? The answer is no, they don’t even think that, but they have to keep the narrative going.
5. Know your history. Quote the founders. Reference the Federalist papers. Learn more about the history of the country and why things are the way that they are and bury them with it. It is particularly easy to do this with the Second Amendment but works for virtually any issue. I said facts aren’t persuasive, but history can be, as long as you frame it correctly to evoke empathy. For example, put our values in the context of protecting one’s family.
Understand that everything they do is predicated on making themselves feel like a good person. Thus, if you can make them feel like a bad person for advocating the policies that they do, you have won. You can tell you won or at least induced cognitive dissonance if they resort to personal attacks or stammering of speech. Above all, be very careful. They are looking for a mistake that they can use to beat you back with, or even get you fired. Understand that you are likely not dealing with someone who will give you the benefit of the doubt. Incidentally, guess who did all of the things I mentioned correctly, and understood it all: Donald Trump. He is the only one on the right that does the vast majority of all the things I discussed. Why? Because he is a businessman that understands how persuasion and people work. The right better learn to follow his lead.
Step your game up, or lose everything.
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Steve is the author of Forging the Iron Mind, and is the founder and CEO of Americana Prime.