My wonderful wife recently goaded me into getting an intensedebate account so I could respond to a bit of flagrant idiocy over at one of the Breitbart.com sites. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to comment on other stories, and generally have a lot of fun. One of the more interesting things that happened was I had the chance to engage in a bit of debate with a liberal.
I was reading about whether or not John Steward is a liar, when I saw a comment suggesting that Fox News Lies. As a point of interest, Fox News is about the only news channel I voluntarily watch, so I went to the referenced site and found that their front page was citing less than one “lie” per week. Given that BigJournalism and Breitbart TV are citing factual errors and misrepresentations on a daily basis, the “lie” rate was pretty laughable, and I said as much.
Rockerouter did have the decency to admit that all media outlets have an agenda, but then turned around and claimed Fox News has the worst record, which his own site puts the lie to. He further suggested that we need a pure democracy to fix the system. Now, he’s done two things, doubled down on stupid, and added another discussion point.
I responded to both discussion points, citing the numbers as rebuttal to FN being the worst outlet, and noting that to switch from a representative republic to a pure democracy would require a significant change to our current form of government and modifications or abandonment of our constitution. I further rephrased “pure democracy” as “mob rule”. It’s worth realizing that this is my first conversation with a Liberal in a forum like this. I was expecting a response to both items. I didn’t get that, however.
The response completely abandoned any attempt to further defend the “Fox News Lies” line, and respond only to my characterization of “pure democracy” as “mob rule”. He(?) rephrased it as “majority rule” and implied that we need to get rid of the legislators. He did claim he supports the Constitution, but feels it’s been misused by semantics.
I have to admit, I should have called him out on abandoning the “Fox News Lies” and offering up an inconsistent position. Instead, I attempted to educate him on how the majority will vote for self interest, which would be economically suicidal given that more than half of all people pay no taxes in the US. Finally, I pointed out that when the economic suicide manifests, the people turn into a mob, as seen in France, Greece, and Britain in recent years.
At this point, Rockerouter has dropped the FN lies point, and he now drops any discussion of changing our form of government in favor of debating WHY people pay no taxes… namely that they don’t make enough and live paycheck to paycheck. He wants improved wages to precede that, and suggests the Bush tax cuts are the cause of that. He further suggests that I’d be crazy to continue the debate unless I’m a millionaire.
Turns out I live paycheck to paycheck as well, yet I also pay taxes. I instead argue that I want my boss’s taxes to go down so he can pay me more. I also suggest that I would like to become a millionaire, and would appreciate lower taxes to facilitate that. I also state I would prefer to pay people for WORK than for POVERTY. I finished with a quick recap, noting that he had abandoned at least 2 threads (implicitly conceding them to me).
He then brings up GE’s failure to pay taxes last year, and mocks my recap. From what I’ve seen of debates, this screams of desperation. He still didn’t rebut any of my points, just violated his own argument that those who pay no taxes are too poor to pay taxes.
I pointed out that GE’s 0 tax rate was a favor from the Democrats, and that it’s really millions of shareholders. Finally, anyone with a 401k probably has stock in GE, and benefited accordingly, likely including him.
At this point, he reveals that he’s independently wealthy, lives a life of leisure now, and has no skin in the game of the economy (other than the success of his patents). He did offer me a compliment, in that he thinks I could do well in politics. This was his last post.
My final constructive point was that he could do more to help the poor directly than by funneling his money through the government.
In reviewing what happened, something interesting comes out: Liberals do not have defensible points. The points they bring up sound good, but when pressed on the details of how they play out, or what has happened historically, they consistently abandon the point for a new one. I encourage you to read through the back and forth, and find out how many points each side left unrebutted. I attempted to respond to every factual point, while Rockerouter consistently failed to offer more than a token or tangential rebuttal.
I wonder what would have happened if I had not rebutted every point. I suspect that he would have concluded he had won, even if it had only been on 1 out of 5 or 6 points. What would have happened if I’d gotten tired of the back and forth? Probably the same thing. I felt like he was trying to wear me down, by just slinging one idea after another.
So what can we learn from this? First of all, being a conservative requires that you know WHY you believe what you believe, and be able to articulate it. Second, liberals can’t do that. Ann Coulter writes numerous articles and books about this point, but engaging in a debate with a liberal will reinforce that view. Finally, being a conservative requires a lot of determination when faced by liberals. They will try to wear you down with question after question, point after point, idea after idea.
Be smart and determined.