The following Top Ten +1 includes my own personal list of the most common defense patterns that I have seen, and what I call them, when trying to rationally discuss the definition of freedom, the tyranny of Big Government, and the reasons we need sound money with a Liberal. In the conclusion at the bottom of this post, I explain how to defend yourself from all ten +1 defense patterns.
- Blunt Force Trauma
- Sun Tzu
- Air Strike
- Kill the Messenger
- Sin of Omission
- False Dilemma
- Snake Oil
- The Long Walk
- The 0.01%
Blunt Force Trauma
In this defense, whatever your argument is, no matter how logically founded or rationally explained, the Liberal will simply battery ram your argument with the high speed freight train of, “that’s not true.” I also call this defense the, “because I say so” defense. There will be not a nugget of fact or speck of reason in it, it will simply be an attempt to convince all ears that “nobody believes that,” “they don’t believe that,” or “you’re crazy for believing that.” In the case of the last instance, this is also known as the “tinfoil hat” defense.
In this defense, whatever the topic of your argument is, the Liberal simply changes topics altogether. The transition is so clunky making this defense strategy so obvious and is the sign of a true amateur. For example, if you are discussing the constitutionality of State’s rights and the Liberal attempts to defend their position by asking you how long you’ve supported Republican hegemony, you are being subjected to a derailment attack.
In this defense, the sign of a more seasoned Liberal, your attempt to engage them in an argument will be subtly redirected to a not entirely dissimilar argument, but one which will not lead to the point you were trying to drive to and is more likely to lead to an area of the same subject matter, relatively, that the Liberal feels they are more capable of defending their position on, or that they feel you are less capable of defending your position on. The name comes from Sun Tzu’s Art of War, “thus the expert in battle moves the enemy, and is not moved by him.” I also call this the, “leveling the playing field” defense.
In this defense, a Liberal will listen, or read your well thought out, well constructed, rational and reasonable argument and instead of responding to the point clearly made, will seek out and isolate the one fact that you cited incorrectly or misquoted even though that fact in isolation makes no difference to the point being made. For example, in an argument with a Liberal you could cite the Whiskey Rebellion of 1790 as the first attempt by the Federal Government to lay an unconstitutional tax on its citizens. The Liberal will say, “Nice try you right-wing troll. You don’t know what you’re talking about, the Whiskey Rebellion law was in 1791.” This is simply an attempt to discredit your entire argument by showing that you are incapable of accurately citing sources, facts or quotes and therefore your entire argument is suspect and all ears should discard it, in toto. Note that in this argument, they make no attempt to refute your actual point, they simply undermine the foundation of your detail enough to condemn the entire point in the eyes of the ears listening.
In this defense, the Liberal will refuse to come down out of the stratosphere of rhetoric, newspaper headlines, whistle-stop talking points, and political, social and economic memes. While you attempt to explain or defend your argument on the ground with the details of reason and logic, you will be subjected to Dresden style carpet bombing and tactical airstrikes from above as their argument planes hide in the fluffy marshmallow clouds of the “you can’t pin me down” battle plan because they refuse to cite anything of meaning or substance or fact that could be even remotely challenged or discussed at length. I also call this the “3X5 Card” defense.
Kill the Messenger
In this defense, as a peaceful messenger carrying in your mailbag the message of small government, individual liberties and sound money, you will be gunned down by this Liberal defense in their effort to destroy the message by committing a character assassination on the messenger. Your message, no matter how valid or well cited or rationally based will be utterly and entirely ignored as you are assaulted with vitriolic hate and venomous mudslinging. Like the days long gone on the playground you will be revisited by the bullies of yore with name calling, hair pulling, four letter invectives and impressive displays of multi-hyphenated kite strings of demeaning political hate. For example, in response to arguing that Obamacare was not presented factually to the American people, a Liberal may respond with, “You right wing-tea bagging-tin hat wearing-conservative nut job-paid shill trolling-Limbaugh listening-extreme fundamentalist-Bush loving-Ayn Randian-Galt sucking-bible thumping-gay hating-war mongering capitalistic pig.” I also call this the, “Scorched Earth” or “Mushroom Cloud” defense or simply, “Ad Hominem.”
Sin of Omission
In this defense, and offense, the Liberal will appear to state a reasonable argument to support his point, but will leave out certain facts and details that, had you known them, would have altered your opinion of his argument entirely and would have forced you to draw a different conclusion from the one he was attempting to convince you of. For example, every history book in every school in America. Another example, we were all taught that the Civil War was fought over slavery, but this was a sin of omission. From Abraham Lincoln, a letter to Honorable Horace Greeley, dated August 22, 1862, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery.”
In this defense, a Liberal will present a set of options as if all thought, research, opinion, logic and reason had already been exhaustively applied to the subject at hand, and these options as presented by him were the only available options possible from which to choose. For example, I recently fought a local ballot measure and on the web site I created which was distributed in the local newspaper I challenged all three of the options they had presented to the voters and offered six alternative solutions of my own, and I asked if anyone had thought of these solutions and if so, what was the result. Instead of replying one way or another to my challenges or suggestions the Liberals simply repeated the same three options that they had initially proposed as if all I had done was list the ingredients for a Cobb salad.
In this defense, a Liberal will claim that something does something that it doesn’t. They will attempt to counter your argument by citing a quote or fact and attempting to support that citation with a link. To a casual reader, it will appear as if they have made a valid defense, using citation, and are therefore correct and you are soundly refuted. You will find in this defense that the link either does not go to where they led everyone to believe it goes, therefore providing no support to their claim at all, or goes to a source that is so voluminous in nature, which they themselves have never actually read, leaving it to you to find among its 10,000 pages if their citation was accurate or not. They assume, accurately, that nobody except the most diligent will actually follow up on confirming or refuting their citation, thus allowing their false claim to stand untested to all casual readers that come after you.
The Long Walk
In this defense, a Liberal will attempt to exhaust you and those listening by shifting the burden of the entire argument, at all points, and at all times, back onto you, until everyone collapses from fatigue. For example, if you argue that we should return to a gold standard, the Liberal will not provide a counterargument with citations and logic, they will simply claim that gold standards don’t or won’t work. You will then respond citing historical references about why asset backed currencies have always worked. The Liberal will respond that Government knows what its doing. You will then respond on why the Government and The Fed are failing to maintain sound money and in fact, don’t know what they are doing. The Liberal will respond with how The Fed is a legitimate arm of the Government. You will respond with how The Fed is a private company, what that means, and that it is not a legitimate arm of the Government. For every five words the Liberal types, you are forced to respond in paragraphs. In this way, anyone following this argumentative long walk will either get bored, lose interest, or be overwhelmed by the vastness of the new information being presented to them and simply throw up their hands, drop to their knees and beg for the sweet release of a bullet. They will give up not knowing who to believe or even what the original topic of discussion was. I also call this argument, “Geologic Time,” the “Wear Down Defense” and “Muddy Waters.”
This defense is a subset of the Isolation defense and part The Long Walk, but is specific enough, and happens often enough, to deserve its own category. I also have a separate post on it here. It is specifically targeted against Libertarians, Anarchists and small/no Government arguments that involve how a private police or fire department would work, or privately owned roads. Private police, fire and roads is an actual Libertarian argument and is in fact quite possible and more beneficial than were they publicly owned, but the level of understanding that anyone engaged in this discussion must have of economics, history, philosophy and constitutionality is so great, that it is not a Libertarian 101 debate, it is a Libertarian 500 debate. It simply cannot be answered in 50 words or less and unfortunately, on blog comments, threads or even in person, 50 words or less is usually the most any Liberal, or anyone listening, is willing to tolerate.
For example, when a Libertarian begins arguing with a Liberal regarding, let’s say, the unconstitutionality of the States powers the Federal Government has usurped in its daily toil of aggregating and consolidating power upon itself, a Liberal will ignore this very specific topic and immediately try to draw the argument into the “extreme” Libertarian concepts that include private fire departments, police and roads. This draws the Libertarian away from making his point about States rights through the Isolation of an irrelevant subtopic, thus tumbling him down The Long Walk of attempting to defend private fire, police and roads until his audience is bored to tears or has lost interest, much to the wry smile of the Liberal that set him on that journey to Mordor – meanwhile the original argument regarding the evils of the Federal usurpation of States rights is long forgotten and the Libertarian gains no ground at all, with anyone, on anything.
The most common response to all of these Liberal defense patterns is simple…stay on point. Do not allow distractions, name calling, diversions, rhetoric, omissions or any other attempt to move you off topic. No matter how absurd it feels to respond to a Liberal’s totally unrelated response to you, by responding to him with what now appears to be a totally unrelated response to him, because it is in fact returning everyone back to the original topic, just do it. Keep your eye on the ball. Whatever kernel of point you are attempting to make, never, ever, ever let them move you away from it for any reason. Always and forever, immediately bring that swing all the way back around and return to the point you were making from the first sentence. Every. Single. Time.
Never degrade yourself to the level of such a Liberal. Do not use the defense tactics here against a Liberal’s argument. You must dissolve their point with reason, logic and facts. Never resort to ad hominem attacks with ad hominem. Maintain your calm. Forever be civil. Never use inflammatory statements, wild accusations or foul language. Your reason, your logic, your calm and your staying-on-point presentation are what will win you the argument. Force them to think. Ask them questions about why they believe what they believe or said what they said. Force them to support their argument with reason and logic and facts, not emotion and rhetoric.
The outcome of this approach will either convince the Liberal of your position, or convince others listening of your position, or outrage the Liberal like a starving racoon cornered in a barn which will still, in fact, reinforce your position in the eyes of those listening. That is how you win an argument with a Liberal, and this is very important in this revolution for the hearts and minds of the American people.
It matters not at all if you win the Liberal over or not. Most Liberals are emotionally and altruistically anchored, no amount of logic or reason or rationality will convince them of anything. Your goal is to reach the undecided, to reach what I call the “Reluctant Libertarian.” These are those minds that seek out and respond to logic and reason, and are simply struggling through the uncomfortable and difficult task of squaring the new information and insights you are providing with the decades long misinformation they have been spoon fed and accepted as absolute truth from what they thought were trustworthy advocates of information, education and veracity. This is no easy task.
What matters, and will always matter, are all the ears in the darkness that are listening, thinking, and deciding for themselves what is right, what is true, what is moral. Your job is to sow the seed of disruption. To soak their consciousness with facts and truth and allow its freezing within the mind to uplift, uproot and dislodge their preconceived determinations and their relevant core beliefs. They will naturally seek out the moral truth to end the uncomfortable feeling of no longer knowing quite what is going on.
It all starts with the splinter of moral truth in their mind.
And it is your job, and mine, to aggravate that splinter.