Make the political argument, not the personal attack

CheetoJesusSomething has been irking me for a while now. Initially, I couldn’t put my finger on it. It’s been building over the last couple of months. It’s not so much the entrenched corners so many have willingly put themselves in when debating the virtues and vices of the presidential nominees, though that is a part. It has more to do with the tenor of those who have been aligned with the voice of conservatism.

One of the founding ideas behind Freedom Cocktail was to create an environment for the free exchange of ideas and dialogue, so long as civility remained the setting and logic and reason the atmosphere. Any object could be set on that imaginary stage (or bar) and discussed, so long as those conditions remained. Over the 4+ years of our existence, we have had posts covering everything from current events to philosophical views on raising children, our changing culture and everything in between. In every case, no one resorted to name-calling. With each successive post, acute attention was placed on not ignoring contrary facts or shifting arguments away from contrary evidence. It is something we pride ourselves on when we identify as conservatives or Libertarians.

One of my favorite quotes, in terms of debate, comes from former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” That comment has always stuck with me and helps to drive my choice of words whenever I debate someone, whether in writing or in person.

I appreciate my Libertarian friends who have almost always backed the Libertarian Party candidate. When they write about their decision to back Gary Johnson here in the 2016 race, they are being consistent with their ideals and firmly held beliefs. And, generally speaking, they do not delve into personal attacks or Mad Magazine-style lambasting.

On the flip side, Leftists cannot help but fall into the 3-step playbook whenever they are trying to engage in political commentary — they will first shift the subject when anyone is able to rebut their initial claim; they will then ignore the facts being presented to them (or anything contrary) that would force them to revise their initial claim; and, as a final step, will resort to name-calling. They cannot help it. They may never admit they are wrong, but as Maggie Thatcher was keen to notice about human nature, when you have not one single political argument left, all that remains are emotional outbursts designed to attack personally.

Much like Maggie, I swell with joy and pride when I can drive a Leftist to resort to their 3-step playbook, turning them into red-faced blowhards, vomiting nonsensical platitudes and horrible vulgarities as fast as they can conjure them. I know, I should not take joy in the emotional wreckage I have wrought by the judicious application of logic and reason, but I’m human, too. I have my weaknesses.

On almost equal footing to the personal insults, what angers me (and most conservatives) is the notion that Leftists have of themselves as being so much smarter, they need to think for the rest of us. They want to tell us what food to eat, what light bulbs to use, what cars to drive, how much we should earn, how much health insurance we need and how to raise and educate our own children. They convocate in their Ivory Towers and their hallowed halls of Marxist principles, doling out their wisdom to the rest of the poor, common-folk, too uneducated and unenlightened to know what’s best for them. So what if the messengers do not need to heed their own advice — so long as the masses conform, the select few are entitled to the spoils, are they not? Ever wonder why it’s okay for Leonardo DiCaprio to own a mega-yacht, Al Gore to fly on a Gulfstream and Bernie Sanders to buy his 3rd mansion while the rest of us are scolded for firing-up a grill or driving a 4×4? It’s because, in their minds, they are part of a different caste and as long as the vast majority can be convinced to go without and relegate themselves to the bottom rungs, the elites get to break their own rules. After all, they are so much smarter and better than the rest of us, we should just be thankful they allow their wisdom to be forced down our throats, right?

This brings me back to my quandary.  I’ve already written my thoughts about the #NeverTrump movement (here and here) so I will not belabor my earlier arguments. I’ve said all I think I can to sway someone with my point-of-view. However, what I want to do is implore those who have gone all-in on the #NeverTrump movement is to consider a couple of thoughts.

CheetoJesus2First, your choice of words and phrases. Take a lesson from Maggie. Terms like Cheeto Jesus, The Angry Cheeto, Cheez-Whiz and the Clown Prince of Politics are not political arguments. Equally, to label supporters of Donald Trump as members of the Branch Trumpidians, Trumpites, Trumpettes, Trumpeteers, Trump-chumps or Trumpkins is akin to trying to win a debate by calling someone ugly. Or fat. They are insults and devoid of any political merit or substance whatsoever. Sure, to those in the same caste, it’s uproariously funny. Like the rich, mean girls teasing the poor kid from across the tracks, everyone knows it’s wrong, except them. And it eventually turns sympathy toward the one being personally attacked.

Which brings me to the self-righteous, we-know-so-much-better-than-you, that is equivalent to the hubris exhibited by the elites on the Left. It is the height of arrogance to presume you belong on a different plane than everyone else simply because you deem it so. No one likes to lose, but worse is the loser who takes their ball and goes home, only to blame everyone else for why their team had to quit the game.

But it’s not fair!

Every parent, at one time or another, reminds their children that life isn’t fair. Sometimes, the bad guy wins. Sometimes, you don’t get what you want just because you demand it. Sometimes, you have to act like the grown up and press on, waiting for the next opportunity to present itself.

Be a member of #NeverTrump. You have every right to choose whom you wish to vote for and where you will throw your support. But keep the principles of logic, reason and civility foremost in mind. Choose your words and your arguments carefully to avoid mirroring the very same tactics and behaviors we detest in those who would prefer to have dominion over every aspect of our very lives. Otherwise, all you will succeed in doing is solidifying the support of those whom you offend and alienate those who might otherwise be open to a more persuasive and dignified alternative point-of-view.

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About Alan J. Sanders
Actor - Writer - Director - Radio. Truly, my passions are for all of these pursuits and many around me share most of these same interests. I enjoy getting into the minds of the people I am playing. However, when I'm on the air, you are getting the real me. I do not pretend to believe something to get a reaction. I want to be as genuine as I can be, which also means laying my soul bare. It's the same for when I write. Of all the roles I play, though, I want to point out that there are two I consider more important than any I have ever played (or will ever play) and that is of DAD and HUSBAND. I have four girls, ages, 20, 19, 17, and 15 and there is nothing I won't do for them. And, none of life's ambitions would be possible without the strength and support of my best friend in the entire world, my wife, Susan. Regardless of anything else, nothing will ever outshine them.

One Response to Make the political argument, not the personal attack

  1. I’m in complete agreement, though for different reasons. I was raised to believe name-calling is impolite, and that manners are generally important and useful. However, I can still hear the nine year-old in everyone saying,”But he (Trump) started it!” Actions have consequences. I try to keep Mrs. Obama’s line from the convention in mind. When they go low, we go high. That should be an orientation we all aspire to.

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