How to Argue Politics

Posted July 28th, 2011

Well, the Halloween yard decorations are for sale at Costco and you know what that means: its almost Christmas. Also the political season is in full swing again.

Yes, I know its almost always  Christmas and Political Season.  They are two of the sado/masochistic traditions that we as a country hold so dear that we celebrate them year round. True, elections lack the galvanizing economy boosting-gift-giving-ritual action of the six months of Christmas. But come on!  They are also the gift that keeps on giving since they include everything else; They’re a team sport,  a reality show,  a contest,  a holiday, a source of constant histrionic bulletins and  cataclysmic updates. They not only contain gossip, passion and petty arguments, but they’re  full of  people who claim to be regularly communicating with Jesus!  Plus they’re far more terrifying than Halloween.

Unfortunately arguing politically has always been a problem for me. I’m just not very good at it.  I usually know how I feel about the issues but rarely have I done enough exacting research in to the various historical details and precedents in each case to annihilate the arguments of my opponents. Or at least that is what I always thought was wrong with my approach.  But lately, as I watch things play out in Washington, as well as abroad, I have become convinced that all of my old assumptions are now obsolete. As usual I was being kept from a winning hand by trying for too much over-achieving. That is why I have assembled the following tips on how a political argument is won.  I believe my pointers are useful to all, regardless of political leanings.

How to Argue Politics:

1.Begin by choosing an unshakable stance to which you are going to hold fast like you would to the steering wheel of a runaway vehicle with bad brakes.  Even when you sense you may be lurching wildly, or the steering wheel is unresponsive, just hang on tightly, no matter what you see or hear. As long as you are going a million miles an hour, there’s no need to continue looking at the road ahead. Rather your extreme devotion to keeping your foot on the gas pedal, despite your lack of ability to see what is in front of you, will be your rudder, your anchor. (Think: Boehner in the budget ceiling debates.Or Sarah Palin when confronted on any empty headed counter-intuitive thing she says.)

If you are not sure what side of the issues you are on,(perhaps because the candidates you find cutest seem to keep changing their minds) pick your position by making some kind of simple minded emotional connection to something tangential. How about music? Country music is often played by Republicans. Indie music is almost definitely Democrats. Unknown bands hoping to become famous by making a viral video during the election: Tea party.

2.Having done that, now go online, find a chat board that supports your new point of view, and select the bullet points of your argument FROM THE SENTENCES THAT CONTAIN THE MOST WORDS ALL IN CAPS!!!!

3.Never allow lack of information to keep you from the passion you have for your side of the argument. Nothing needs to be solved. Your argument should  exist in an unencumbered vacuum where it should be allowed to circle back to the point at which it started. There is no way you are wrong. Remember that. So take comfort in the fact that no matter what side you are on, there are some excellent ways to wipe out whatever your opponent is telling you.

If you are conservative and the other guy begins making some good liberal point involving basic ethics and human rights,stay your original course by having, at the ready, an ambiguous Biblical quote that can be interpreted as supportive of anything. For example “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” If you’d rather not invoke religion,then another good argument-ender is :“If clean air and the environment means so much to you, how come I don’t see you giving up your comfy home and your gas guzzling car?” Be sure to use as many complex metaphors as you can that reference Dwight D. Eisenhower or Ronald Reagan. Most people today can not remember who these men are, they just know they are impressive. So throw in a lot of statistics that they will be helpless to refute. Don’t worry if they’re not true. As long as you are speaking louder and faster than they do, they will give up so that they can get back to checking their messages.

If you are liberal and faced with a piece of a conservative’s  fiscal argument that seems too solid to dispute, it is always wise to invoke the people and customs of one European country or other to prove your point.  ” The people of Switzerland don’t carry guns and they have like one homicide a year.”The people of Sweden permit public nudity and drinking at every meal for the whole family and they have no rapes, ever.”The people of Belgium have socialized medicine and prescriptions cost a penny.”” The people of Denmark have legalized drugs and drug related crime is non existent. Plus the rate of addiction is half of what ours is.”  And if you are taken to task with the only real topper: “Well if the people of Europe all jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” you can simply answer “Yes. Because the people of Europe take better care of their infra structure than we do and their bridges are among the safest for jumping in the world.”

If the people of Europe  do not appeal to you, the old “How can we waste millions on ( war, supporting flailing dictators, tax cuts for the wealthy etc ) when there are children starving in our own back yard?” is a time honored all purpose stall. (And this despite the truth that no matter how much  spending  is eventually curbed, or redirected and no matter which party has the majority in the Senate, the extra money is never going to be used to feed hungry kids (unless they somehow can band together and become The Church of the Hungry Youngsters, thus making them eligible for grants or tax exemptions.) As a liberal, your ace in the hole will be any parallels you might care to make to Truman, FDR or JFK, three Democratic presidents whose policies are largely forgotten. So totally fabricate your details  since almost no one you are arguing with will have the smallest grasp of what the truth is. Chances are they will be too eager to to get back to staring at their phones to give it much thought.

4.Now as you begin your argument, remember that no matter what position you take, you’ll need to open with the following: “I may not agree with what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it.” Say this with conviction, despite your own lingering doubts and suspicions that were you actually called upon in this capacity, there is no telling what you could be counted upon to do.

5.Finally, remember that every single thing that the other guy says is definitely  wrong. There is no such thing as believing that someone is making a few good points on the other side of the argument. Taking in new information and changing your point of view in any way, ever, is considered weak. So once  you have decided what you believe, that is it. No room for more thinking.

6.No matter which position you have taken ,whenever you feel yourself starting to get confused or losing ground, feel free to stop for a minute, take a deep breath  and kill some time with a round of  blaming the media for distortions and bias. Both sides have equal rights to this.

7.Now get arguing! And take a hint from someone who used to work on talk shows: As much as possible tune out what your opponent is saying. Just Nod. Smile. Focus on the rolodex in your head and the snacks you are going to eat right afterwards. Then make your points, say you have a plane to catch and get the hell out of there.,




P.S. Ahem. Its not til November but if you’re the kind of person who pre-orders books…(additional coughing) Also Barnes and Noble

Yep. I’m on twitter.

Posted July 24th, 2011
Tags: , , , ,

I resisted for a long time. I resisted it all. (As I previously noted a few blog entries ago…I’m also on Facebook.)

To be honest, life was fine without either of these things.  But I have a new book book coming out in November. (Pre-order it, won’t you? Amazon or Barnes and Noble.)

I’m not sure why having a new book coming out equates to being on Twitter or Facebook. Especially since I am obviously going to be too embarrassed to do too much pimping or self promotion on either one. That little bit of misfortune was built in to my personality at a young age and no amount of de-programming seems to have much effect on it.(Although, here I am doing it right now.)

So far the only thing that being Twitter has brought to my life is the sudden need to write one liners every day, for free. Why THAT is a good thing is anyone’s guess.

All that aside, there you have it. I’m on Twitter. (I should point out that  I’m not the only one! Yes. Its true. There are a lot of people on Twitter.) But…if you feel like it you can suddenly find me there. Uh, I mean follow me.

Now let us return to our regularly scheduled programming. And I will go back to trying to write a legitimate blog entry.

The parking lot search for non-violent people over 21

Posted July 18th, 2011

A couple of days ago,  I was unloading the packages from my shopping cart in to the back of my car in the Trader Joe’s parking lot when a short haired young man in board shorts, a teeshirt and sun glasses came up to me.

“Excuse me m’am,” he said, “ But I’m taking a communications class and we’ve been asked to interview non violent people over 21. Just a couple of questions. Would that be okay?”

I shrugged.

“Are you non violent?” he asked.

“Well, for purposes of this discussion, I’ll just say yes,” I said.  Meanwhile, I was wondering, “He said ‘A communications class.’ Is he practicing being a news man? Or is this some kind of an anti-war thing? Does he want me to sign a petition?”

“Here. Let me show you my I.D.” he said, taking out a big bill fold that looked oddly familiar, though I wasn’t sure where I’d seen it before. From other sales pitches? Kids selling magazine subscriptions?

“If you’re about to try to sell me something, don’t bother,” I said, “I’d be disqualified. I become violent when strangers tell me how to spend my money..”

“No no…” he said, “I’m just looking for sponsors in order to…”

“Forget it” I said, interrupting, “I don’t want mints. I don’t want magazine subscriptions. I don’t want to make any donations right now.”

“How about if I come to your house and offer my services for 24 hours.” He said, “ You can ask me to clean or order me around. I’m 18. I’m in my prime.”

“It’s a lovely offer,” I said, now getting really confused because it was a kind of creepy thing to say since I didn’t know him and so I couldn’t tell if he was kidding or what. (I mean, its summer. Its hard for students to make money in the summer and….Naw. He was kidding. But still.)“But there’s absolutely nothing you could be offering that I would be interested in buying…”

Eventually he shrugged, then he waved and walked off. As I turned away to complete unpacking my groceries (while trying not to further contemplate what would have happened if I had taken that guy up on his offer to come to my house and clean)  a second young man in the big long shorts approached. “I’m representing my communications class,” he said,”…and I need to talk to non violent people who..”

“Forget it,” I said, now ready to get in my car,  “I was just non violent for him.”

“…are cver 21” he continued, “and who would ..”

“No no no, I don’t qualify.” I said,” I’m definitely over 21 but I’m violent now.”

“No you’re not.” He said, chuckling.

“Yes I am too.” I argued.

“No you’re not.” He said again, grinning.

“Yes I am so.” I said.

“Oh, you are not,” he said a third time and as he began to continue his pitch, a list of moves I learned when I took a street fighting class some years ago began to flip through my mind. I could do “heel palm”. I could do “knee.” I felt I needed to do something to make my point. So I  reached over and punched him.

Okay. I didn’t really. I just got in the car and closed the door.

But Goddamn it… I should have. Just because of how much better if would have made the end of this story.



I have a new book coming out in November. If you are a non violent person over 21 and for some reason you could be talked in to pre-ordering it, you could do it here: