Tuesday, January 30, 2007

How to Win an Argument with Another Progressive

This is just too good not to re-post.

It's from Chris Bowers of MyDD. He lays out six points to keep in mind when trying to win an argument with another progressive:
  • Someone disagrees with you only because of his or her demographic background. The only reason any progressive holds any position that different from yours is because s/he is one or more of the following: white, suburban, non-union, upper-middle class, from a different region of the country, heterosexual, homosexual, male, female, a Baby Boomer, not a Baby Boomer, secular, religious, or from a specific type of religious background. If you are in a disagreement with someone on a topic that somehow particularly affects any given demographic, simply argue that the reason that person is disagreeing with you because s/he hails from the demographic group viewed as the oppressor when it comes to that given issue. When making this sort of argument, it is particularly helpful to point out that you are a member of the oppressed demographic. Of course, since you probably aren't a member of that demographic group, it is almost as good to point out that all of your friends from that demographic group agree with you. This tactic can also work against entire organizations if the membership of an organizations is not properly diverse.
  • Someone is only a progressive if they focus on the same issues as you. You may have noticed that not every so-called "progressive" focuses their work on the same topics as you. The reason is, of course, that those so-called "progressives" with different areas of focus are not really progressives at all! How could a progressive not focus all of their attention on the same issue you focus you attention on? They can't. Make sure you open up any discussion on your pet issue by pointing out that not enough so-called "progressives" are focusing on that issue, because that will help squelch any dissent from the start. After all, progressives want to be progressives, and will do their darndest to make sure that your issue, no matter what it may be, is not ignored. This has the added benefit of getting your diary onto the recommended list at Dailykos. It can even come in handy when you find yourself out of your depth in a discussion outside your topic area. Instead of caving, just say that the person who disagrees with is wrong for even focusing on that issue at the expense of yours in the first place.
  • What would Ghandi do? If you happen to be in the unfortunate position where your given position is considered "fringe" by the majority of progressives, always close and open any discussion on that position with Ghandi's saying "first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Since Ghandi is the progressive Jesus, this tactic will work about as well among progressives as quoting Bible verses works among conservatives. You pull out a Ghandi quote, and you skip straight to stage four in any argument. Also, while this particular phrase is most effective when you are being ignored and / or laughed at, no matter what stage in Ghandi's progression you are actually in, claim that you are already at stage number three. After all, if you are in an argument, then someone is disagreeing with you, and thus in a sense fighting you. It really is the same thing as British troops throwing you in jail for a decade after beating the hell out of you for a non-violent protest.
  • Since when are they so perfect? Remember, you are not arguing with Martin Luther King or a participant in the Orange Revolution. More importantly, make sure remind whoever you are arguing with that s/he isn't Martin Luther King, or a participant in the Orange Revolution. His or her failure to be Martin Luther King and / or a participant in the Orange Revolution immediately takes them down a peg or two, and discredits what s/he has to say. After all, if someone wasn't one of the leaders of the civil rights movement, or if someone failed to overturn the results of a fraudulent Eastern European election, what business does that person have suggesting courses of action to other progressives? This argument is greatly enhanced if you can point out that you were at some watershed progressive moment, such as the 1968 Chicago protests of the DNC. Of course, participating in such an event makes you such an authority on all things progressive, that it helps to state you were in attendance, even if it isn't true.
  • You've got cred, man. This is similar to the previous tactic, but better used in a more specific circumstance. Remember that you were the top volunteer for a local campaign for a disappointing Democrat in your area, even if you only went out canvassing only once. Hell, you were beyond a volunteer--you were a staffer, maybe even the campaign manager! Remember that you donated to every campaign and every blog fundraiser, ever. You were at every rally, ever. You had every prediction right, ever. You have been there and done that, no matter where "there" is and what "that" may happen to be. There isn't a single, specific situation to which your endless activism does not apply. Remember that the person you are talking with isn't nearly as active as you are on that specific issue, and did not have as much foresight as you did. You earned your cynicism and / or the right to be an asshole--they didn't. Make sure you point out both of these things to that person.
  • You are too good for them anyway. If all else fails, just remember that whoever disagrees with you is either a corporate, DLC-lackey or a self-destructive, know-nothing McGovernick. You can end any argument in this fashion and still win it, because in the end you know that their tactics will lead to failure. Hell, not only will it fail, the person who disagrees with you is probably getting bought off by Rove, or some corporation. That is the only possible explanation for disagreeing with someone like you, who is made up of pure light. Except, perhaps, that you are arguing with a rank amateur who doesn't have the proper historical context to understand why liberals must be quiet at all times, lest conservatives dominate the country is even greater numbers. Some people are too na├»ve to know what is for their own good.
I like the first two and the last one the most (perhaps because they remind me of a comment conversation I just had on this blog).

Which is/are your favorite?

Bowers also offers a great intro and conclusion to the list, so be sure to check out the entire post if you have the time.


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