How to Debate a Conservative As a Liberal

For those of us with liberal or progressive views, debate with members of the other side of the political aisle can be difficult. Political debate does not have to turn into foolish name-calling; instead, it should reflect the diversity of beliefs in our country.


  1. Before you attempt to debate a conservative, take into consideration some of the various popular sub-groups in the movement: neocons, fundamentalists, and libertarians.
    • Neocons, as a whole, often claim to be supporters of a “strong defense.” This “strong defense” is characterized by a desire to start unnecessary conflicts abroad with little concern as to how they get funded.This philosophy is based off of a childish assumption on the neocon’s part that social change can come through conflicts. If you have anti-war/pacifist sentiments, then neocons represent the exact opposite of your positions.
    • Fundamentalists are more far-right in social issues than any other conservative archetypes. For example, they oppose abortion in all situations, even in the case of the mother’s health. They are strong opponents of gay marriage and believe that gays want to be “cured” and turned back into straight individuals. They also support the idea of “traditional family” and view feminism as wrong. Some fundamentalists even go as far as thinking that liberals want to attack all that is good about America.
    • Libertarians used to be ailing, that is, until the massive Tea Party revival of recent. Now they are thriving and growing. Libertarians want the government to stay out of every element of their lives. They want lower taxes and an abolition of most social policy. Unfortunately, many groups like the Tea Party are bereft of intellectuals; instead, they are filled with those who have no understanding of how government works. They frequently mistake social policy for socialism, and they often create conspiracy theories about the president’s true identity.
  2. Now that you are familiar with many of the groups of conservatives, think about how you got into the discussion. Did you get into the discussion arguing about the merits of the Iraq war, or did you get into arguing about environmental protection? Stick to the topic at hand. Red herrings can take a discussion to nowhere quickly. After you have done this, here is a helpful guide for the ensuing argument:
    • If your discussion is about economics or the role of government, make sure that you have your facts with you. Conservatives will often cite false, incorrect statistics that they get from biased news commentary. Tell your conservative debater that social policy is sometimes necessary to fix epidemic problems (for example, Medicare was created to help elderly people who couldn’t support themselves after they retired). Explain to them that “trickle-down economics” is nothing more than “trickle-down poverty”, and that lowering taxes for the super-wealthy in America does little to fix problems. Also explain to them that those on their side of the political aisle often have cozy relationships with large corporations and lobbyists. Most conservatives will rant and rave about government bureaucracy, but turn a blind eye to corporate corruption.
    • If your discussion is about social issues, beware. Conservatives (especially fundamentalists) will exploit this in terrible ways. Keep this fact in mind: the page on liberalism at Conservapedia (a popular conservative website) states that liberals support fascism and want to destroy “American values.” Most conservatives don’t want to have civil discussions about social issues; they want to resort to name calling. To conduct this discussion, as usual, keep facts in hand. For instance, if a conservative attempts to tell you that homosexuals choose to be the way that they are, fight them back by stating that some scientific studies suggest that a chromosomal locus called Xq28 may have something to do with sexual orientation. Sometimes, though, arguing with a conservative about social issues is less than productive and rather futile, because they refuse to accept science and fact.
    • If your disagreement got started over gun rights, cite statistics of murders, suicides, and accidental deaths involving guns. Explain to the conservative that no civilian needs to have access to assault rifles.
    • Finally, if your discussion got started about animal rights or environmentalism, realize that this is your chance to get on a soapbox and proclaim your “moral beliefs” to your conservative debater. Go on the attack and tell conservatives about how cruel the slaughter of animals in the meat-packing industry often is. Tell them about how packed our animal shelters are getting due to irresponsible owners who abused or could not take care of animals. Communicate to them the real dangers of permanently loosing entire species. On the environmentalism side of things, tell them about how global warming is not a farce created by “elite U.N. liberals”, but instead, a real and pernicious threat that could make this planet hard to live on. Cite statistics and examples of how it alters weather patterns and how it changes climates. Tell the conservative about corporations that dump toxic waste into unsafe areas and poison our rivers. Explain to them that we all need to do our part to make a more sustainable future on this planet, and that this includes getting off of dirty fuels such as coal, oil, and “natural” gas (also known as methane gas.)
  3. With all of these steps and tips, it is rather hard to lose an argument. Just make sure to have all facts ready and know what tactics that conservatives will likely use.


  • When getting into political discussions, make sure that they are in an appropriate venue. Beware of starting discussions about politics in the office or in restaurants, unless you know the person that you are talking to very well.
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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 at 2:24 pm and is filed under Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.