I read the following recently on the website, http://www.quora.com and wholeheartedly agree with Daniel Albert’s article/comment so I thought I’d take time to share it in it’s entirety.
How do I make a convincing argument to someone who is a liberal that being a conservative is more compatible with their beliefs?
Daniel Albert, American citizen and writer living in Norway
Updated Jan 23
You have a number of separate arguments you have to make which would individually be nearly impossible, and if you can answer all of them convincingly, I highly recommend you write a book, because I want to read that book.
- Convince someone making minimum wage that even though they don’t have any money left over at the end of the month, that it should cost them three thousand dollars just to get their head scanned at a hospital after a car accident that wasn’t their fault, just sitting at a red light and getting plowed into by an idiot that wasn’t looking forward. Convince them that their girlfriend, who was a nurse, should have to pay 30,000 dollars out of pocket for a week’s stay at a hospital for having a simple bacterial infection and the treatment was normal antibiotics, and the treatment wasn’t free, because she wasn’t in a union. Explain to these people why society functions better under this system than the one in Norway, where you can see a doctor for 20 bucks out of pocket and a surgery is 300 dollars, and that’s only if you can afford it, meaning, you have a job. The rest is paid in taxes, like public schools, or medicare. All you have to do is show these people that their lives are better off when they go deep into debt over unforeseen events that they had no control over, all so insurance companies can make billions. And remember, it isn’t just Norway which has universal healthcare. Most countries do, and it is cheaper and has better outcomes than private healthcare.
- Convince someone who has ever been falsely accused of a crime, or ever been a victim of a violent crime, that the for-profit and punitive prison system in the USA, full of violent beatings by guards on prisoners, assaults and murders in prison, and rapes, not to mention executions, is a better system that results in less crime and more rehabilitation than the prison system in Norway, where only 1 in 5 prisoners that are released ever end up committing another crime, whereas in the USA, 4 in 5 prisoners end up re-arrested within 5 years. Where the murder rate is 1/16th what it is in the USA. Where school shootings are unheard of, and have never resulted in a single fatality. Where a decade went by without a single person dying from being shot by the cops, and no cops ended up being shot by a suspect. Where the prisons are comfortable, humane, focused on rehabilitation, care, and education, not punishment. And the results are that much better. Convince someone who has been a victim of crime or could ever end up in the prison system that the USA has a superior system, despite the much higher murder rate, the crimes, murders, and executions that take place within the prison system, the rampant abuse, assault, and sexual assault by guards and fellow inmates. Explain how all of that is good for society. And remember, Norway is not alone in abolishing the death penalty, life imprisonment sentences, nor are they alone in establishing prisons that focus on rehabilitation instead of creating a hellish torture environment.
- Convince someone who has kids that their kids should be paying off the debt caused by Trump giving trillions of dollars of taxpayer money to billionaires instead of properly funding the government he requested, deficit spending to line the pockets of his rich pals. Explain how they need to pay interest and the principal for the 11 trillion dollars the Trump tax cuts will cost the government over the next decade, and why that is good for them. Meanwhile, in Norway, not only is there no yearly budget deficit, and no national debt (*), but there is a trillion dollar savings fund saved up for only 5 million people, earning a hundred billion dollars in interest alone last year. Explain why this kind of irresponsible spending on the already rich is good for your kids’ future, putting them deep in debt before they can even have a say. And remember, Norway is not alone in funding social safety nets without going deep into debt. Many other countries can also pay their bills, and don’t just give trillions of tax dollars that were supposed to be allocated for government spending to their rich friends, in the largest theft in human history. (*)- Note, Norway “technically” has a national debt, but it is a temporary amount that they could pay off instantly from their savings. Analogous to you having 5000 dollars in your savings account, and 300 dollars in debt on a credit card that you pay off each month. They do have a debt, but it is tiny compared to their real savings which dwarf that debt immensely, and they do have a budget surplus. I am just including this for accuracy.
- Convince someone who is gay, lesbian, trans, or knows someone like that, that their equal rights, liberties, and freedoms will no longer be denied by the Republican party or conservatives who had been suppressing those rights all their lives. Explain how the liberals and Democrats who extended those rights are the real threat to their freedoms. Meanwhile, in Norway, such rights have been extended to those folks as well. And in most liberal democracies across the world.
- Convince immigrants and persons of nonwhite descent that even though immigrants commit fewer crimes than the natural born citizens, that Donald Trump was not being insulting or festering hatred when he called immigrants a bunch of rapists and murderers, or that he has great respect for nonwhites when he said people in Africa live in shithole countries. Meanwhile, in Norway, the country accepts more refugees per capita than almost any other European country, and is in the top 10 percent in the world in that regard.
- Convince young people going to college that they are better off starting life 100,000 dollars in debt with a high interest rate just to have a shot at getting a decent job which is nowhere near a guarantee, instead of doing things like Norway, where college tuition is free, and every citizen can go, and the cost is paid in taxes for the people who graduate and get a job in that field. They pay it off slowly over the rest of their life, at a much more reasonable rate, with no hit to their credit rating, no chance of bankruptcy, and no debt burden if they cannot get a job in that field. And remember, Norway is just one example. I can find you dozens and dozens more.
- Convince people that, although instances of accidents or overdoses from simply using marijuana as a pleasure drug are exceedingly rare, it needs to be more regulated or more illegal than alcohol, where overdoses are common, and drunk driving deaths are common, and instances of violence increase by quite a bit whenever drunk people are involved. Why are we locking up and ruining the lives of citizens simply for smoking pot? Explain how this is good for society, but the most basic regulations on alcohol are fine, and all the bad stuff we tolerate because of alcohol abuse is an acceptable sacrifice, when there is no similar sacrifice to be made in deregulating pot. Explain the negative effects in the states which allow legal pot usage. Or, explain how Republicans are never going to roll back pot legalization and will stop prosecuting pot usage nationwide, despite their top legal nominees all saying they will repeal it and begin tougher enforcement. Explain how keeping this substance illegal and keeping drug cartels rich and putting people in prison is better than taxing it and putting the drug cartels out of business, especially for drugs that are less dangerous than alcohol.
- Convince the low paid wage earners of America that even though their wage practically only ever goes up when Democrats are in power and raise their wages by changing the minimum wage, they are better off not having union representation, and all the laws or law repeals that Republicans put into effect to favor corporations and wipe out unions ended up making things better for them. Meanwhile, in Norway, the bottom level wage earner starts at double or triple the wages of a US minimum wage worker, gets more paid sick time, vacation time, maternity leave, paternity leave, and the unemployment rate has still been lower than the US unemployment rate for the past several decades. Explain how corporations making robber baron profits while the workers who make that possible get poorer due to inflation and cannot afford food, rent, childcare, healthcare, or education after high school is a good deal for those people. Explain how destroying the middle class by decades of offshoring to counter unionization, and giving tax cuts to corporations that ship jobs overseas has made their life better. The fruit at the Wal-mart is cheaper, but literally everything else is more expensive and they have no money left over every month due to their shit wages. Not so in places like Canada, Australia, or Norway, and dozens upon dozens of other countries, where US corporations exist, make billions in profits, and still pay the workers properly. Explain that to me.
- Explain to liberals how gerrymandering, vote suppression, or demanding government ID without giving everyone free IDs, is good for democracy. Explain the Republican strategy of creating large legislative majorities with an even split in the votes, or even a minority of the votes, is good for democracy. Explain why the USA is on the list of flawed democracies, unlike dozens upon dozens of liberal countries, and why having a fucked up democracy that elects people by the minority instead of the majority is good for the people it screws over.
You have your work cut out for you.
Under a liberal and center-left form of government, in dozens of nations across the globe, I can get higher wages, cheaper healthcare, better healthcare, cheaper education, debt-free education and debt-free healthcare, a government that is more democratic, more representative of the people, less corrupt, and is socially more free, and has a better and more accurate press, and a government that doesn’t meddle in the lives of racial or sexual minorities in order to score political points with a bigoted voter base. I can get an economy less prone to crashes and unemployment spikes, without wages remaining flat for decades.
If you can explain away all of the huge, real, undeniable positives of the kind of government I advocate for, and simultaneously pull out from your ass a society that is more free, less corrupt, more democratic, better managed on a fiscal level and also on a level of good governance, by citing real world examples that are not the exception, but the norm for right wing conservative governance, then perhaps you have a snowball’s chance in hell of changing my mind again.
Because I used to be on your team. I was a voting conservative Republican.
I have lived under that form of government, and all its bad results, and I have lived under real world examples of governments more to the left of the US Democratic party, more liberal than the US democratic party, and the results speak for themselves. I have lived under the George H.W. Bush depression, the Clinton boom, the George W. Bush Great Recession, the Obama recovery, and seen Trump’s crappy 2018. These are plenty of examples of Republican policy failing on every conceivable level, nationally, particularly when compared with Democrats.
And when I carefully explain all this to people, inevitably, I get a dumbass comment under my answer.
It goes something like this:
“Well, I am sure glad for you that you enjoy your government over there in Norway, but mind your own business. We Americans live in a free country, something yall wouldn’t understand because you have a King. Do I need to explain the U.S. Constitution to you, foreigner?”
At no point did the goober ever address any of the points I presented, about the wildly better outcomes.
At no point did the goober ever even deny that those better outcomes would be desirable, or affirm that giving the billionaires half the wealth of the society and letting the poor suffer is actually a good idea. They could always try to make that argument and they do not.
At no point did the goober ever read and understand I am a US citizen and I vote in US elections. It says so right next to my friggen name on this answer, and it says so at the very top of my profile.
At no point did the goober ever once try to explain how life is so much worse for me here in Norway. Nor have they ever googled the Constitution of Norway. Nor do they understand the King is about as ceremonial as the Queen of England, and Norway is rated as more free, more democratic, more representative, and less corrupt than the United States.
All they have? ALL THEY HAVE? Is this:
“I’m glad you like it in Norway, stay there and shut up!”
…That’s all you got?
Well that’s pretty pathetic, and I will not shut up, and I will continue voting, and I will spend my free moments persuading my fellow Americans to vote more like I do. And my arguments will be upvoted and shared and people will follow me and minds will be changed, because I at least friggen attempted to use an argument and real world examples to explain to people how their lives and their government and their country’s future would improve.
You want to make a convincing argument?
Try making a positive case for the accomplishments of your side. Done over the objections of Democrats.
And when you do, try looking at the state of the country before Trump was elected, because history didn’t start there. Inevitably, your economic arguments fall flat because Obama handed Trump the greatest economy in generations. He doesn’t get credit for barely and badly maintaining it, while the stock market fluctuates, while putting the nation deeper in debt to the tune of trillions to “accomplish” what had already been accomplished by the previous administration.
Try also explaining why the economies and murder rates in the ultra conservative and very Republican southern states are so shitty. You would think, if the party of law and order and fiscal responsibility was as advertised, none of those governments would be running a deficit, accepting more federal dollars than they spend, nor would their murder rates and poverty rates be so high.
The facts really really suck for you, and it isn’t one or two or three states, it’s well over half of the Republican states which are governed like pure garbage.
It’s absolute mayhem. And when they get everything they want, like Kansas did, and they impose a ton of “stimulating” tax cuts, the economy doesn’t change and then the credit rating plummets and they can’t pay their teachers, and since there are not enough Democrats to come rescue you, Republicans had to reverse Republican policy there, and raise taxes back up again, admitting that even when they have all the levers of power, and can implement their policies to the fullest effect, their policies DO…. NOT… WORK.
Refute everything I just said, and write a book. I might even pay money to read such a tome, if it isn’t full of garbage arguments and is actually full of real, verifiable data, and positive examples.
You do that, and I will share that book with my liberal friends and help you spread the word.
But as of right now? I will not be voting Republican ever again. The party officials, currently in power, and their platform, are all morally, fiscally, and intellectually bankrupt. I didn’t even get into the bullshit imposition of creationism in science classes in public schools, denying evolution, and putting science deniers in charge of government agencies that they don’t even understand. I barely got started. But here, don’t forget about that either. Explain how Republicans are good for public education, teaching the facts, and knowing the facts when governing.
Actually being conservative would mean you have good answers to all of these problems that really do work in real world examples.
Because the Republican party obviously does not have good answers to all of this, I am not a Republican anymore, and I will see to it that fewer and fewer people fall for their bad policies, bad arguments, and false promises.