Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. The Woman at Safeway: A Suggestion for a Continuing Ricochet Series on Last Chance Outreach

 

museAs is their wont, a muse appears in the oddest of places. Yesterday, one appeared at our local Safeway as my wife and I were doing our weekly shopping. This particular muse took the form of a politically ignorant young woman ranting into her phone about “Citizens United.”

I was already in an agitated mood. Before shopping, I made the mistake of checking my “family only” Facebook account. Out of courtesy, I keep my posts on this account clear of politics. However, the same can not be said of some of my relatives. On viewing the feed, I saw one meme after the other of fallacy-laden bromides from one such relative: a typical, ill-informed, virtue signaling, Bernie Sanders supporter. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, a few years back, this same relative, in an argument with my wife, insisted that Sarah Palin actually said, “I can see Russia from my house,” and was therefore “stupid.” When presented with the evidence of the actual and factual statement which Palin made, and Tina Fey’s parody of it, this relative did not care – Sarah Palin (and not this relative) was still, and would continue to be, the stupid one. There is a word for such stubborn attachment to one’s beliefs in the face of overwhelming and contradictory evidence. That word is “faith.”

I agree with Karl Popper that Marxism is a religion. And I can’t help but observe that the modern incarnation of the Democrat party is thoroughly Marxist. Bernie Sanders himself is an avowed Socialist if not a full-blown Communist. Therefore, we should not be surprised to see rank and file Democrats who are not interested in debate: faith is not open to it. We should not be surprised to see Democrats not only unmoved but outraged and further entrenched when faced with any supposed “evidence” from morally bankrupt and politically incorrect unbelievers. We should not be surprised to see tales of horror, such as Venezuela’s new “Pets for Food” program, shrugged off as some “it can’t happen here” fable in some faraway land by the same people who also enthusiastically support a candidate who has openly endorsed bread lines. The Democrat party has become a mob of ill-informed, delusional zealots.

So, what to do? I differ from many I know on the right in that I do not believe that any reconciliation is possible. Many long for a healing, for a “can’t we all just get along” moment. But how do you reason with zealots? How do you present an argument to the ignorant and ill-informed who are comfortable and smug in their belief that you are evil and therefore any argument which you might bring is void? You don’t. You can’t. You’d only be wasting your time. As such, I am and have been quite ready to say, “If Bernie Sanders, a man who has endorsed breadlines, is the Democrat nominee, and if you vote for him, begone.” But I realize that others on my side might not be quite so ready to embrace this conclusion.

Which brings me back to the politically ignorant young woman at Safeway. If it were possible to reach her, and others like her, to show her that her feelings on Citizens United, as with so many other issues, are illiberal, how could it be done?

I would like to suggest a series on this topic to which I invite any member of Ricochet to contribute. Chose an issue which the Left consistently misrepresents to its base and then provide argument/evidence of this misrepresentation in such a way that those on the Left who are still able can be reached.

On Citizens United: ask if the government should be able to ban a movie because it doesn’t like the political content. If the answer is “yes,” forget this person, they are unreachable. If the answer is “no,” ask if the people who made the movie should have a right to make a political statement in their film. If the answer is “no,” forget this person, they are unreachable. If the answer is “yes,” explain to them the details of the Citizens United case. It is doubtful that they even know it.

Your contributions to this post and possible this series are welcome.

There are 33 comments.

  1. Front Seat Cat Member

    You’re a David up against Goliath – I hear what you are saying, but not sure what to do either. I’m not one to get into chats on left wing sites – I avoid Facebook except for a couple friends. There is plenty of evidence out there that the current liberal system is doomed to fail, but it’s like arguing with a stop sign. I can’t help but think that the Bible’s predictions are coming true that the prophets spoke of long ago. Men’s hearts will grow cold, persecution will greatly increase, good will become evil and evil good, it’s all there. If they foresaw with God’s grace these days, then it should be no surprise.

    Don’t be frustrated – it’s hard, but stick to your convictions in these times of testing. There’s a bigger story being written here.

    • #1
    • May 16, 2016, at 1:06 PM PST
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  2. thelonious Member

    I always think the problem with these things is coming at the other person from a polemic position. You’re wrong and here’s the right answer. It’s human nature to defend your position no matter what contrary evidence is presented. I have people in my life who I don’t discuss politics with because they’re not open to opposing points of view. All they want to do is have a polemic debate. I honestly don’t find this useful. I have friends who are somewhat left of center who are willing to engage in a discussion and hear and understand my point of view. I generally find I can at least get the other person to understand my logic at least. In short I think it’s more about tact than arguments. Imho.

    • #2
    • May 16, 2016, at 1:32 PM PST
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  3. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I wish so much that I could be helpful, Rick, but I gave up trying to influence people on the left 10-15 years ago. And I’m the eternal optimist. From my own experience, people on the left who are at all politically aware are not interested in rational, factual discussion. They feel the way they feel. And to admit they are incorrect would be, to say the least, embarrassing. If they had enough integrity to acknowledge their embarrassment, they’d have sufficient integrity to examine their beliefs to begin with. Considering the small audience your addressing, I wonder if it’s worth the effort. But I wish you well!

    • #3
    • May 16, 2016, at 1:48 PM PST
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  4. Man With the Axe Member

    An anecdote: My daughter came home from her freshman year at Mt. Holyoke (this was 25 years ago) spouting marxist dogma (or dogmanure, if you prefer). She insisted that the government should be making all economic and cultural decisions.

    I asked if she was okay with the government deciding what books could be published, and wouldn’t that lead to only books that praised the government. She didn’t see anything wrong with that. Same with movies. But then I asked her about music. “Do you agree that if the government could decide what music could be recorded and played, that you could get only propaganda, and you certainly wouldn’t get punk rock,” or whatever it was that she loved at the time. This struck a chord with her. The scales fell, and she realized that the government might actually take from her something that she valued, i.e., iconoclastic music.

    It helped a little toward reforming her. But it’s been a long, difficult slog.

    • #4
    • May 16, 2016, at 2:17 PM PST
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  5. namlliT noD Member

    Eudaimonia Rick: Which brings me back to the politically ignorant young woman at Safeway. If it were possible to reach her, and others like her, to show her that her feelings on Citizens United, as with so many other issues, are illiberal, how could it be done?

    Don’t argue the specific case, as that puts them on the defensive.

    Instead present a more fundamental issue, and from there they can conclude that their original position was, uh, problematic.

    Citizen’s United is a no-brainer as it’s all about free speech and freedom of the press.

    • #5
    • May 16, 2016, at 2:44 PM PST
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  6. namlliT noD Member

    Man With the Axe: I asked if she was okay with the government deciding what books could be published, and wouldn’t that lead to only books that praised the government. She didn’t see anything wrong with that.

    Really?!?!

    • #6
    • May 16, 2016, at 2:45 PM PST
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  7. FloppyDisk90 Member

    I dunno. Maybe you should start small and work your way up from there.

    Let’s take your Sarah Palin example. What if I were to say that Palin was indeed displaying a fundamental foreign policy ignorance by suggesting that Alaska’s physical nearness to Siberia made her somehow qualified, or should even be considered as relevant, to be President and that ignorance was indicative of a general trait? Do you immediately have a visceral response to that? If so, then consider that object lesson A in the difficulty of what you propose.

    By the way, I’m not trying to start a Palin thread here. Merely suggesting that the “I’m rational and you’re not” claim is too often thrown about. It’s a way of marginalizing opposing views.

    • #7
    • May 16, 2016, at 3:09 PM PST
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  8. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach Post author

    FloppyDisk90: What if I were to say that Palin was indeed displaying a fundamental foreign policy ignorance by suggesting that Alaska’s physical nearness to Siberia made her somehow qualified, or should even be considered as relevant

    I would accept, yet disagree with, your opinion.

    • #8
    • May 16, 2016, at 3:12 PM PST
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  9. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach Post author

    FloppyDisk90: Merely suggesting that the “I’m rational and you’re not” claim is too often thrown about. It’s a way of marginalizing opposing views.

    So then you would disagree that the Democrat party is not, on the whole, completely irrational?

    • #9
    • May 16, 2016, at 3:14 PM PST
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  10. FloppyDisk90 Member

    Eudaimonia Rick:

    FloppyDisk90: Merely suggesting that the “I’m rational and you’re not” claim is too often thrown about. It’s a way of marginalizing opposing views.

    So then you would disagree that the Democrat party is not, on the whole, completely irrational?

    That is correct. I do not presuppose irrationality.

    • #10
    • May 16, 2016, at 3:22 PM PST
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  11. Man With the Axe Member

    Don Tillman:

    Man With the Axe: I asked if she was okay with the government deciding what books could be published, and wouldn’t that lead to only books that praised the government. She didn’t see anything wrong with that.

    Really?!?!

    She had painted herself into an intellectual corner, but she wasn’t about to admit it. This was typical of her. Of my four children, she is the only one who is likely to believe nonsense, and the only one who is unwilling to be argued from a bad position to a better one. The other three love a good natured argument, and argue fairly and well.

    • #11
    • May 16, 2016, at 3:27 PM PST
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  12. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach Post author

    FloppyDisk90: That is correct. I do not presuppose irrationality.

    Then we fundamentally disagree on this.

    EDIT: Although I will concede that where there is not irrationality, there is outright malice.

    • #12
    • May 16, 2016, at 3:34 PM PST
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  13. TKC1101 Inactive

    Eudaimonia Rick: I would like to suggest a series on this topic to which I invite any member of Ricochet to contribute. Chose an issue which the Left consistently misrepresents to its base and then provide argument/evidence of this misrepresentation in such a way that those on the Left who are still able can be reached.

    Good goal, not quite the approach that I would recommend.

    Argument works when people agree emotionally on the goal. Argument is for refining ways to achieve a common objective.

    Argument fails when the goal is not shared.

    I would recommend you approach this by dealing with their emotional attachment to their goal, which requires a lot of listening and gently and quietly having them question the linchpins of support for their goals.

    People convert when they realize their goals are not right for them.

    Owning property used to be the cure for Marxism, property too easily obtained promotes it.

    Being a parent used to be the cure for progressive values. It still is , but has been weakened.

    • #13
    • May 16, 2016, at 4:19 PM PST
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  14. Basil Fawlty Member

    ‘There is a word for such stubborn attachment to one’s beliefs in the face of overwhelming and contradictory evidence. That word is “faith.” ‘

    No. The word is fanaticism. Faith is a Christian virtue.

    • #14
    • May 16, 2016, at 4:37 PM PST
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  15. John Walker Contributor

    Eudaimonia Rick: So, what to do? I differ from many I know on the right in that I do not believe that any reconciliation is possible. Many long for a healing, for a “can’t we all just get along” moment. But how do you reason with zealots? How do you present an argument to the ignorant and ill-informed who are comfortable and smug in their belief that you are evil and therefore any argument which you might bring is void? You don’t. You can’t. You’d only be wasting your time.

    I have come to the conclusion, as far back as the 1990s, that separation is the only answer. The good news is that railroad-era continental-scale empires are no longer competitive or viable. This can be seen in the collapse of the Soviet Union, the ongoing slow-motion decline of the European Union (which has, as its premise that Finns, French, Germans, Italians, and Greeks can live with a common currency and regulatory regime), and the polarisation of the U.S. into a largely coastal collectivist regime (with outposts such as Chicago) and a heartland which largely rejects the madness.

    In an age where everybody expects to be able to customise their smartphone precisely as they like and change it according to their whim, it is just silly to imagine that one set of rules, proclaimed in the capital, should govern 320 million people in communities as different as Wyoming, San Francisco, and Mississippi.

    The present system is heading for a crack-up. Whether it is precipitated by a debt spiral and economic collapse or the escalation of the cold civil war over culture isn’t clear, but it’s coming. Ideally, before it happens, there will be a devolution of authority from the centre to the periphery in a real sense, not window dressing. Realistically, this is more likely to happen when recovering from a collapse.

    This collapse and fragmentation into smaller, self-governing polities is a good thing. Small, homogeneous republics are stable and can last for a long time. Large, diverse empires are unstable and either collapse or are propped up by tyranny. There’s no need to assume that devolution in the U.S. follow the lines of the existing states. What will probably make sense is 10 to 15 contiguous regions with similar characteristics (for example, the eastern parts of Washington and Oregon have much more in common with Idaho and Montana than the coastal regions of those states).

    • #15
    • May 16, 2016, at 4:46 PM PST
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  16. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach Post author

    Basil Fawlty: No. The word is fanaticism. Faith is a Christian virtue.

    Since I am working from Popper’s argument that Marxism is a religion, if you’d like to qualify your assertion of “fanaticism” with “religious,” then I would agree in that I am using the word “faith” in the context of “religious fanaticism” not in the context of Christian virtue.

    • #16
    • May 16, 2016, at 5:00 PM PST
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  17. Idahoklahoman Member

    I turned off my Facebook account a few months ago during a job search. I’ve never missed it.

    • #17
    • May 16, 2016, at 5:01 PM PST
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  18. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach Post author

    John Walker: I have come to the conclusion, as far back as the 1990s, that separation is the only answer.

    I have come to the same conclusion. However there might be room for one last chance at outreach. Certainly not for all, but for a few.

    • #18
    • May 16, 2016, at 5:02 PM PST
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  19. Retail Lawyer Member

    This is what I tried, without much success, for a few years: Finding out what facts the Liberal relied on for the feelings demonstrated and opinions expressed. And then, when the facts are clearly in error (most terrorist attacks in the U.S. are White Supremacists – or say, Citizens United allows unlimited contributions to campaigns . . . ) point that out (Google and smart phone for doubters) and ask them to reconsider.

    Not only do they just get madder, they don’t even thank you for providing information that will prevent future embarrassment.

    • #19
    • May 16, 2016, at 5:36 PM PST
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  20. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach Post author

    Retail Lawyer: Not only do they just get madder, they don’t even thank you for providing information that will prevent future embarrassment.

    Indeed. Which is why I think that Popper was right and why I think that very few on the Left can be reached.

    • #20
    • May 16, 2016, at 5:42 PM PST
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  21. Retail Lawyer Member

    Eudaimonia Rick, Lets not be too ambitious here. We’re never going to witness a conversion, but we might plant a seed, open a crack. So here is another idea:

    “Everyone is conservative about what they know best” (forgot attribution). I have found this to be true. Liberals will often make “off the reservation” (attribution is Hillary!) comments about their daily lives. Lets see if we can take that over into some other area. I don’t think I have tried this, but maybe someone has and can comment on it.

    • #21
    • May 16, 2016, at 6:02 PM PST
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  22. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach Post author

    Retail Lawyer: Eudaimonia Rick, Lets not be too ambitious here.

    Trust me, I’m not. Rather, I’m trying to find a way to not to be too defeatist.

    • #22
    • May 16, 2016, at 6:10 PM PST
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  23. Retail Lawyer Member

    Neo Neocon’s blog often talks about the liberal to conservative conversion. I had one. I was a liberal with some exceptions, like Union power and the entire stance of the Sierra Club in about 1990, which I had once been a member of. I switched over in a day or two during the debate of the run up to the first “Gulf War”. A crazy dictator was about to put his boot on the windpipe of the Western World and liberals were urging drum circles and sanctions and Barbara Boxer was telling us our tanks would only last 12 minutes in the desert and the US military just was not up to the job. “These people are fools”, I told myself and never looked back.

    • #23
    • May 16, 2016, at 6:17 PM PST
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  24. Martel Member

    As has been said, you can’t reason with zealots. But with people who aren’t zealots you can.

    So, I recommend in any conversation listening to figure out whether or not the person is a zealot. If they’re not, reason with them (how to do so requires much more space than a comment).

    If they are (or even if they’re acting like they are), your only hope is to persuade observers of the conversation, but you’ve no hope of persuading them. And the best way to persuade observers is to make the zealot look stupid. This requires us to be more aggressive than we’d typically prefer.

    My technique is that when they cross a line (name-calling, etc.) first, ensure everybody listening knows they crossed a line. Then you can get harsh with them without seeming like the unreasonable aggressor.

    When you’ve got them on a point, don’t let them move on until they either grant your point or admit they can’t (if you’re not careful they’ll go straight from climate change to racial profiling to Iraq without you having any idea it even happened). Always be the aggressor without ever seeming like the aggressor. Don’t be mean, but make sure they know you’re willing to be if you have to (it’s almost like training a dog, be nice if they’re nice, harsh retribution if they’re not).

    And do not be afraid.

    • #24
    • May 16, 2016, at 9:28 PM PST
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  25. Tenacious D Inactive

    I think this kind of approach is incomplete, as facts and arguments only address the intellectual side of the issues, while most people’s political positions are also influenced by their identity and interests.

    Consider how you might craft an appeal to the woman at Safeway’s identity rather than her intellect: assume she sees herself as standing up for the little guy against the influence of big money. You could try pointing out that Bill Gates or Warren Buffett will never have a problem broadcasting their political views–lots of people are willing to pay to hear them speak. But for ordinary folks, being allowed to pool money with likeminded others to buy an ad might be the best way to get their voices heard.

    (Back during the 2012 election campaign Colbert did a stunt (to demonstrate the hazards of Super PACs) where he started a Super PAC and collected donations from his viewers. Seeing how many people contributed to promote a message they supported helped convince me of the merits of the Citizens United ruling.)

    • #25
    • May 16, 2016, at 9:58 PM PST
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  26. TeamAmerica Member

    I’d suggest trying a Venn diagram approach. IOW, find what area(s) of agreement you have with them and then try to use logic to expand them.

    A woman I worked with over a year ago was a fairly liberal Obama supporter, but she was favorably impressed by a ‘GirlWritesWhat’ video I emailed her by a Canadian libertarian named Karen Straughan.

    • #26
    • May 16, 2016, at 10:58 PM PST
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  27. TeamAmerica Member

    Eudaimonia Rick:

    FloppyDisk90: Merely suggesting that the “I’m rational and you’re not” claim is too often thrown about. It’s a way of marginalizing opposing views.

    So then you would disagree that the Democrat party is not, on the whole, completely irrational?

    Dems are rational if you accept their premises- that the election of Barrack Obama doesn’t disprove the leftist dogma that the U.S. is permanently and pervasively racist. That the census bureau data showing that the average Asian-American, Cuban-American, and Nigerian-American earns more than the average white American does not disprove their thesis of white privilege, etc.

    • #27
    • May 16, 2016, at 11:02 PM PST
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  28. I Walton Member

    Which category of Dr. Sowell’s “conflict of visions” do they fit into, constrained or unconstrained? If unconstrained there is no reaching them through analytical argument, history or reason. Find an analogy or simple example on a key topic get agreement on some basic and use it at a different time and place. If they fit into constrained group, they’re just ignorant and need education, but start with things familiar and never use anything that can seem current or partisan. Step back and address basics that can be raised later when relevant to the topic at hand. Has this technique been successful for me? Of course not.

    • #28
    • May 17, 2016, at 5:54 AM PST
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  29. Full Size Tabby Member

    I have occasionally made tiny cracks in the armor of some lefties I deal with by drawing parallels between what they are asserting and some concept I know they find abhorrent. I have been most successful by borrowing lines from Walter E. Williams that draw parallels between taxation of one group of people to provide a benefit to some other group of people and enslaving the first group of people for the benefit of the second group.

    An area of minor success has been to note that if the authorities conduct full house searches for firearms (comes up in gun control debates, since that’s the only way to even begin to get control of the firearms currently in existence), those same authorities may also object to some publication they find in your house while looking for the gun.

    As to Citizens United, I sometimes point out that a contrary ruling could also silence unions, the Sierra Club, or whatever advocacy group the person belongs to.

    [The latter two don’t always go well because the lefties are sometimes so sure that only people who agree with them would ever be in position to control such power.]

    I’d like to try more of an approach Rob Long has hinted at – you wouldn’t accept the government telling you what apps to have on your phone and how to arrange them, would you?

    • #29
    • May 17, 2016, at 9:47 AM PST
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  30. TG Thatcher
    TG

    About facts: There are times when having the facts to counter leftist misapprehensions would be good. Often, when that happens to me (when I want to be able to pull out those facts), I find that I don’t have ready access to the references/sources – so I’m hobbled.

    I think it would be a nifty use of Ricochet to put together a Knowledge Base of some of those key facts.

    • #30
    • May 17, 2016, at 10:31 AM PST
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