As November draws nearer and Hillary Clinton keeps finding new and innovative ways to lose the public's trust and interest, Democrats are becoming increasingly panicked, and third party supporters are all too frequently bearing the brunt of their frustration. Rather than targeting the gigantic mass of undecideds and Americans who don't vote, Greens, Libertarians, progressives, and Bernie-or-busters are instead being bullied, cajoled, gaslighted, and guilted into supporting the warmongering corporate crony whose party is now openly admitting to having rigged the primary election.
You do not have to engage these people at all. Your vote is your right and it's nobody's business but yours how you use it. You do not have to debate these people. But my God is it fun.
It's really easy, too. Debating Hillary Clinton supporters is like shooting fish in a barrel. If you make a Jill Stein post on social media, for example, they'll come charging in all full of energetic confidence, ready to mow you down with the sheer force of their rightness. That is because all the talking heads they watch on TV have been telling them that they're right, and they and their liberal friends have been furiously agreeing with each other and pumping each other up this whole time, so they often simply haven't encountered many solid arguments that run contrary to their preferred narrative.
So step one of debating Hillary supporters is don't fall for their feigned confidence because it's really the only tool in their toolbox. Once you get past their bluff and bluster, their vapid scoffing, empty dismissals, and ad hominems, they only have very porous arguments at their disposal (more on those in a minute), which they're almost always very rusty at exercising. You'll find that they usually back off after a few exchanges as soon as they realize you're not buying their "you're wrong because I said so" schtick, so don't buy it. Throughout the conversation, point out every baseless assertion and unsubstantiated claim, and keep demanding that they support their arguments with facts. In any other kind of debate, this would be a reasonable expectation, but Clinton supporters typically find it a very daunting task that they'd rather avoid.
I imagine this has something to do with the massive amount of cognitive dissonance they're swimming in all the time. It can be psychologically uncomfortable knowing you're supporting someone who's done the horrible things that Hillary Clinton has made a career out of doing, so shining a spotlight on the areas they don't want to look at will be a very unpleasant experience for them. If you make a habit of engaging Hillary supporters in a debate, get used to getting blocked, even when they initiate the conversation. I can't tell you how many times some stranger has gone on the attack on one of my posts uninvited and then blocked me a few comments later like they're scared I might follow them home or something.
Anyway, here are a few more pointers for debating Hillary Clinton supporters, for those of you who care to engage in that sport. I've written them from the perspective of a Jill Stein supporter because that's what I am, but you Libertarians and deplorables might be able to use some of it too, who knows.
1. Stay really clear on your position
People with a lot of cognitive dissonance and compartmentalization issues hate clarity, so stay conscious of where you're at and what you stand for. Ideally, you want to be able to sum it up in a paragraph.
Speaking for myself, I support Jill Stein because I want to help cost the Democrats the election this year. If we give them the progressive vote after they rigged their election to install a corporatist war hawk whose career has been a continuous assault on progressive values, we may be sure that they'll keep doing exactly that. This will allow the Democratic party to keep moving to the right in advancement of the neoliberal agenda, which will in turn free up the Republican party to move even further to the right (which is how we got Trump in the first place), allowing for an overall movement to the right for the entirety of American politics in the long-term. I find this much, much more dangerous than four years of President Trump. We let Trump in, we let him alienate voters, cost himself the House and the Senate, and we rock the vote in 2020 with the elites of the Democratic party resting assured that they will either allow us to elect a real candidate who will make real changes, or they will cease to exist as a major American party.
2. "But Trump will appoint conservative Supreme Court justices! He'll cancel the First Amendment and reverse Roe vs. Wade!"
It's like people forget that we've had Republican presidents before. The SCOTUS argument rests upon the premise that American civil rights cannot survive even one term of a Republican presidency, ever. We know that this is false, because we've survived many of them (and incidentally all the worst decisions of our last one were supported by Hillary Clinton: the Iraq invasion, the Patriot Act, and the bank bailouts). Even if a President Trump somehow manages to replace three justices in a single term (and it's entirely possible that he'd only get to replace one), that will just bring us back to a pre-Obama Supreme Court makeup. Remember when Roe vs. Wade and the First Amendment were reversed during Dubya's presidency? Me neither.
Of course, conservative SCOTUS justices are less than ideal, but corporatist ones like those Hillary would put in are not great either, and an overall movement to the right for American politics coupled with the death of democracy in this country is vastly more dangerous than the temporary loss of a couple of Supreme Court seats. I've written more on this complex topic here.3. "We can elect Hillary and then hold her feet to the fire, forcing her to push progressive issues!"
You don't hold someone's feet to the fire by making them the most powerful politician on planet Earth. You don't force someone to do what you want by giving them more power, you force them by forcing them. Bowing to the demands of the Democratic party after they spit on the progressive vote like they've done this year would be handing over all our leverage, shoring up the status quo and signing up for more of the same next time.
4. "Iraq was Bush's fault, not Hillary's, and anyway, lots of other people supported it at the time."
The Iraq invasion was an unforgivable evil that needlessly unleashed unfathomable suffering and devastation upon our world and violently ended the lives of over a million Iraqis. In my book helping to make it happen is the single worst thing that Hillary Clinton has ever done. At the time, an estimated ten to 15 million people marched the streets in protest, three million in Rome, a million in London. Time calls it the biggest protest in world history. No well-read person at the time believed in the WMD story. Millions of ordinary people saw through this lie. We did not want it. And we were right. We were ignored, but we were right.Hillary was wrong. Her judgement was truly awful. If Hillary had helped participate in a deep south lynch mob, where a young black man was tortured to death by many people after a mock trial, nobody would ever forgive her for that. If she was just the one who brought the kerosene and helped bind the man's hands, she would still be viewed by the public as an evil monster, even if she wasn't the leader of the mob, and even if she wasn't the sole executioner. And the Iraq invasion caused far, far more suffering and death than any lynch mob.
Clinton has an appallingly extensive history of pushing for increased military aggression at virtually every opportunity. Just google the words "Hillary" and "hawk" together if you want to learn more. I also elaborate on this here.5. "The primaries weren't rigged."
The Democratic National Committee unquestionably violated their own Charter which promises the American people that the DNC chair will ensure a fair and impartial atmosphere to all candidates within the process at all times. The DNC leaks proved that Debbie Wasserman Schultz participated in many conversations which featured everything from biased "us and them" language to outright scheming to tarnish Sanders' reputation and bring him down in the polls. This alone should cost the Democrats the election this year, and have people asking serious questions about whether or not the Democratic party is a worthy vehicle of the progressive vote at all.
As if that weren't enough, Lawnewz broke the story last week that showed DNC lawyers are now openly admitting to rigging the election by trying to get the class action lawsuit against them dismissed on the grounds that voters already knew the process was rigged anyway. There is no longer any valid reason to say that the primaries weren't deliberately rigged against Sanders. Even the DNC thinks you're stupid if you still believe that.
It's absolutely insane that we're still here debating Hillary vs. Trump when she's not even a legitimate nominee. Here's my latest article about that mess.
6. "Trump is a Nazi/fascist/dictator who will destroy the country!"
Ignore the Nazi stuff. It's just empty bluster to compensate for the fact that they don't have an argument. With regard to "destroying our country," progressives have been told for eight years that President Obama hasn't been able to fulfil the progressive promises he campaigned on because "that's not how it works," but now these same people are asking us to buy into the notion that Trump will be powerful enough to turn America into an apocalyptic wasteland in four years? Not buying it. I'm a lot more scared of Hillary's consistent track record of warmongering and her picking a fight with Russia before she's even president than I am of deportations or wall-building. War is quite literally the worst thing in the world, and Hillary's all about it.
7. "Trump asked his advisor why we can't use nuclear weapons!"
Show them this Washington Post article of Hillary Clinton saying in 2007 that presidents shouldn't take the nuclear option off the table, even for use against terrorists. Their positions are effectively identical in this respect.
8. "Jill Stein is anti-vax/anti-science!"
That's just a baseless assertion some people made up. Jill Stein is very pro-vaccination because she's a medical doctor who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and taught medicine for years. She knows more about medicine than you do. With regard to her being "anti-science," there's nothing unscientific about a medical doctor wanting non-corporate testing on things like GMO foods and the effects of WiFi on children.
But even if there were, on what planet is that worse than Hillary Clinton's corporatist wars? On what planet is a medical doctor wanting non-corporate testing on GMO corn worse than ripping children apart with cluster bombs because of their proximity to crude oil? It's absolutely stupid that this petty non-issue is being used to turn lefties against each other in America. What a sick trick.
9. "Jill Stein is an idiot/other unprintable expletive."
Jill Stein is a brilliant, wise and profoundly impressive woman. I adore her through and through. More about how much I love Jill here.
10. "Voting third party this year is a privileged choice for white entitled people."
No, privilege is sitting at your computer in your first-world home telling strangers on the internet that they're "privileged" for not electing a woman who has been getting bombs dropped on brown-skinned Muslims throughout her entire political career. How nice for you to have the privilege of advocating for the status quo when it's other people's kids getting their guts ripped out by cluster munitions and you don't have to look at it.That's all the big ones I can think of right now.
I hope that helped a little. In my experience with debating Hillary supporters, there's really not much depth to their position and anything they come up with that I forgot to mention here can be soundly refuted with some facts from a quick Google search. Don't be afraid to engage these people. They really don't have a leg to stand on and it's good for society to bring this stuff out into the light and call it what it is. Happy debating.
[Feature Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]