There’s a knack to winning an argument with a liberal, but the short version is: Play it smart.
Shapiro addressed the students Nov. 8 in Santa Barbara, Calif., at the Young America’s Foundation annual fall conference, where he acknowledged being a young conservative, especially on a college campus, is difficult.
Conservative students are frequently targeted by left-leaning students and scholars who accuse them of hating minorities and portray them as generally “nasty human persons,” he said. They also often transform discussions into “a story of a good guy versus a bad guy,” and in their eyes, conservatives are the bad guys, he added.
But there is hope, Shapiro said. Young conservatives can combat these unfair judgments with his 10-step method on how best to engage in an effective discussion with a liberal, which he distilled to students in his speech.
Step One: “Embrace the fight.”
Have courage, maintain your ground, and stand up for what you believe in.
Step Two: “Frame the opponent.”
Leftists frequently step out of the “realm of civility,” relying on personal attacks in an attempt to discredit their opponent and leave them in a vulnerable state. Shapiro said liberals must be directed back toward civil discourse.
Step Three: “Frame the debate.”
Establish the same parameters as your opponent. Shapiro’s third tenet is best exemplified during an interview on Piers Morgan Live earlier this year. He said he brought a copy of the Constitution and gave it to Morgan on air. As he passed the document across the news desk, Shapiro said: “Because you say you respect the second amendment, you know, I brought this here for you, so you can read it. It’s the constitution.” By doing so, Morgan was forced to discuss gun control in the parameters of legally viable solutions, Shapiro said.
Step Four: “Spot inconsistencies.”
Shapiro cited the issue of gun control again, this time discussing the renewal of the assault weapons ban. Satirizing the circular logic employed by the left, Shapiro stated, “If guns kill people, and not people kill people, then why not take all of the guns?” If your opponent utilizes logical fallacies such as this, do not be afraid to call them out on it.
Step Five: “Force the other side to answer the question.”
When asked a difficult question, liberals frequently ignore it and move onto another topic. Do not allow the discussion to be misdirected.
Step Six: “Do not get distracted.”
If you allow yourself to fall victim to this tactic, you are “following the rabbit down the rabbit hole.”
Step Seven: “If you do not know about something, admit it.”
It is better to acknowledge that you are not an expert on a subject rather than let your opponent walk all over you once they figure out your unfamiliarity.
Step Eight: “Do not buy into the paradigm.”
Liberals will try to argue against their perception of the conservative ideology, not with you as an individual. Not all conservatives believe exactly what you believe, and make sure that they know where you personally stand on an issue.
Step Nine: “Let the other side have some meaningless victories.”
When a liberal engages you in a discussion over issues such as immigration reform, and asks you if you agree with it, say yes. Then qualify your response. By doing this, you “take the buzzword off the table.” Liberals have carefully packaged phrases, such as immigration reform or pro-choice, that are specifically designed to make conservatives appear heartless when they disagree with that particular platform. By playing the liberal’s game with slogans, you take away some of their power.
Step Ten: “Body Language Matters!”
Nonverbal communication is just as important as the spoken word. The key to winning the discussion is to never be on the defense. Once you begin to defend your argument, you are already losing.
Shapiro’s bottom line: Be courageous and stick to your convictions.
College Fix contributor Julianne Stanford is a student at University of Arizona.