Author, syndicated columnist and radio host Ben Shapiro recently wrote an e-book titled "How to Debate Leftists and Destroy Them." Shapiro's pamphlet reads as a counter-punch to the Alinsky-ite tactics of the Left, and makes for an engaging and insightful quick read.
Below are Shapiro's 11 rules for debating a Leftist, with a brief excerpt detailing each rule from his new book, which you can download over at Truth Revolt.
1. Walk Toward the Fire
"The left knows this is war. And they know you are the enemy. You will be castigated. You will get punched. That’s the way it will go because that’s how the left wins: through intimidation and cruelty. You have to take the punch, you have to brush it off. You have to be willing to take the punch."
2. Hit First
"Don’t take the punch first. Hit first. Hit hard. Hit where it counts. Mike Tyson used to say, “Everybody has a plan ‘til they get punched in the mouth.” That’s exactly correct. But throwing the first punch requires game-planning. Walking through the door, you have one shot – one! – to put someone down for the count from the beginning of a debate. If done properly, any debate on a single topic can be over within the first 30 seconds."
3. Frame Your Opponent
"I have argued that the left’s entire playbook consists of a single play: characterizing the opposition. It’s incredibly effective. And the only way to get beyond character arguments is to frame your opponent – make it toxic for your opponent to slur you. Then, hopefully, you can move the debate to more substantive territory. This is the vital first step. It is the only first step...There is no way to convince someone that you don’t hate him or her. You can convince him or her, however, that your opposition is a liar and a hater."
4. Frame the Debate
"It’s important that you neuter those buzzwords quickly, because otherwise you will be arguing against nonsense terms that can be used against you. You can’t argue against empty terms. So don’t accept the premises of their arguments, which are largely buzzword based...It’s important that you neuter those buzzwords quickly, because otherwise you will be arguing against nonsense terms that can be used against you. You can’t argue against empty terms. So don’t accept the premises of their arguments, which are largely buzzword based...As a general matter, the left’s favorite three lines of attack are (1) you’re stupid; (2) you’re mean; (3) you’re corrupt. Sarah Palin is supposedly stupid; Mitt Romney is supposedly mean; Dick Cheney is supposedly corrupt. Take away those lines of attack and watch the discomfort set in."
5. Spot Inconsistencies in the Left's Argument
"The left's arguments are chock full of inconsistencies. Internal inconsistencies -- inconsistencies that are inherent to the left's general worldview. That's because very few people on the left will acknowledge their actual agenda, which is quite extreme. Leftists prefer to argue half-measures in which they don't truly believe...There are almost invariably unbridgeable inconsistencies in the left's publicly stated positions that are at war with their actual fundamental principles. Your goal is to make the left admit once and for all what they believe about policy by exposing those inconsistencies."
6. Force Leftists to Answer Questions
"This is really just a corollary of Rule #4. Leftists are only comfortable when they are forcing you to answer questions. If they have to answer questions, they begin to scratch their heads. The questions they prefer to ask are about your character; the questions they prefer not to answer are all of them. Instead, they like to dodge issues in favor of those character arguments."
7. Do Not Get Distracted
Protesters hold signs outside the hotel where former President George W. Bush was being honored at a private fundraising dinner by University of Denver's Josef Korbel School, Monday Sept. 9, 2013, in Denver. Bush was being honored with a global service award for his service as president and his efforts to fight HIV, cervical cancer and malaria in Africa. (Credit: AP)
"You may notice when arguing with someone on the left that every time you begin to make a point, that leftist begins shouting about George W. Bush. It’s like Leftist Tourette’s Syndrome. "Why did Obama blow out the budget?" "BUUUUUUUSHHHH!!!!!" Don’t be fooled. You don’t need to follow the idiotic rabbit down into his Bushy rabbit hole...Arguing with the left is like attempting to nail jello to the wall. It’s slippery and messy and a waste of resources. You must force them to answer the question."
8. You Don’t Have To Defend People on Your Side
"Conservatives get trapped in this gambit routinely, because they figure that the enemy of their enemy is their friend: if the left is attacking someone, he must be worth defending. But that's not true...Don't follow people. Follow principle."
9. If You Don’t Know Something, Admit It
"Don’t get caught in the trap of believing you have to know everything about everything. Your opponent will undoubtedly know something you don’t. It’s fair to simply state, "I didn’t know that, but I’ll be happy to research and get back to you." Another side-note here: don’t bring up a topic with which you aren’t passingly familiar."
10. Let the Other Side Have Meaningless Victories
"Leftists prize faux moderation above all else; by granting them a point or two, you can convince them that you aren’t a radical right-winger at all. After all, everyone can admit both parties are terrible!...If the left engages you on immigration reform, your answer should be that you are for immigration reform. Now, how do they define immigration reform? That's the key question. But because you've always granted the premise that you like the idea of immigration reform, you don't look like a naysayer off the bat...The conversation is meaningless until you force the left to define terms. Until then, we can all agree on useless platitudes."
11. Body Language Matters
"The Left is expert at imagistics. The right is not, because the right falsely believes that shallow imagistics can be beaten with substance. Which has worked out fabulously for every great actress who is 300 lbs. in Hollywood -- all two of them who are working...Leftists prize faux moderation above all else; by granting them a point or two, you can convince them that you aren’t a radical right-winger at all. After all, everyone can admit both parties are terrible!"