Arguing With Republicans. Is It Worth It?

Or does it just make you want to sign up for a lobotomy? I thought so.

I’ve decided to explore this topic after my sister and her two boys spent last week up here in Fort Worth following the loss of power to their home in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. My sister is not as outspoken as I and lives on a street full of hardcore, lifelong Republicans as is common in Houston. Sucks to be her. Furthermore, she and I are headed for a family visit next week during which we will masochistically immerse ourselves in a cesspool of diehard, Fox News-watching (and believing) Republicans who fly the Confederate flag on Robert E. Lee’s birthday.

Just today I was asked if I’d heard the rumor that Biden was going to bow out of the race just before the VP debate for “health” reasons and Hillary was going to step in as Obama’s new running mate. I can only presume that garbage was aired on Fox because these people do not obtain information from any other source. Perhaps Rush Limbaugh permeated their commons sense barrier as well, but I cannot know for sure. In any case, pro-Republican media sources are just one long circle-jerk, so it doesn’t really matter where they get their information (see comments below). It all goes back to Satan in the long run.

Intellectual debate is one of the highlights of my life. I loved living in Austin for just that reason. No matter which bar you entered, the scene was ripe for spicy discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the leading causes of war or the pros and cons of limited government. Agreeing and disagreeing had nothing to do with the shared enjoyment of testing and rehashing arguments as round after round was purchased into the wee hours. I rarely saw my sparring partners again, but those conversations stay with me.

In Fort Worth, of course, the vast majority of people here are Conservative Republicans who pride themselves on their bumper stickers indicating which pricey christian private school they send their children. I’m in a FreeThinkers group and love the conversation there – though we tend to agree with each other most of the time. But living in Fort Worth does at times make me yearn for the ubiquitous open-mindedness of Austin’s citizens and bar patrons.

Living in a town like this or on my sister’s street in Houston constantly begs the question of appropriateness  of political debate. I’m outspoken and have little need for the approval of others, but also don’t have very tight relationships with my neighbors. When my sister’s neighbor across the street exclaimed, “Democrats suck!”, it was clear that arguing with the person would be unproductive and even less enjoyable. So why even threaten a relationship with a good neighbor, however politically bassackward they may be? It’s a question that will last through the ages.

In a previous blog, I discussed that our unwillingness to insert politics in “polite” conversation inhibits progress and stymies debate which is essential to a healthy democracy. We look to intellectual debate to be worthwhile, fulfill us, get our blood pumping, have fun, learn new things and test our acquired knowledge – not to wear us down, leave us worn and ragged and hopeless.

So, when is arguing with Republicans worth it? Here’s my hypothesis:

Arguing with Republicans is always worth it if they’re informed. Most of the Republicans I know are fairly well-informed, though most of them are also not regular church goers. I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, I just thought I’d put that out there. And while arguing with uninformed Republicans is akin to taking candy from a baby, it’s about as productive and fun as preparing for a triathlon by playing golf. I leave those discussions thinking, “What a dumbass!” rather than, “Oooh, that’s something to think about” or “That was fun” or “I shouldn’t drink so much if I’m going to have to recall shit from my AP History class.”

Arguing with Republicans is worth it if they use curse words in their every day vernacular rather than just when they’re angry. People who do not ever use curse words generally have some form of a stick up their ass. These people are not fun to be around in any event, let alone in a political arena. Even my own mother says “Shit!” every now and then. Those who can roll with the punches, play loosey-goosey and see the value in sarcasm are always worthy of a place in the forbidden world of political debate.

The previous rule applies to Republicans who drink alcohol and especially if they smoke weed. If they are a teetotaler, chances are they are wound pretty friggin tight and could erupt like Mount Vesuvius at any moment. Any real debate with these people should be left to the TV screen, no doubt peppered by the teetotaler’s spittle after images of nudity or Obama surging in the polls are projected.

Fiscal Repubilicans are always worth arguing with much more than Conservative Republicans. In theory, many of the fiscal Republican tenets make sense; they simply do not work in reality. Trickle-down wealth, lack of regulation, free market, etc. They sound good. They just don’t work. The problem with Conservative Republicans, however, is that they are one issue voters. Abortion in particular. For example, last week Ben Stein was on Larry King sternly criticizing the manner with which Republicans have handled this economy and are handling this specific economic crisis. After Robert Reich suggested he support Obama for just those reasons, Stein said, “No, it would not solve my problem with right to life, I’m afraid.”

One issue voters, mainly evangelicals, are the worst. They are uninformed and do what they’re told regardless of the consequences. There is no depth to their thought process and their leaders are unethical and unaccountable. I will not shy from an argument with these yahoos, but I also do not expect any positive result from these conversations. Most of the time, I have to present the flaws in christianity first because it is christianity that serves as the foundation for these people’s close-mindedness.

In general, if the Republican is cool and doesn’t take a quality discussion on the issues personally – you have the green light. If you’re like me and have no problem discussing politics with any schmo – even the racist ones – have at it! Enjoy it and remember that the discussion is what is important, not dominating, not winning or convincing. Simply having the discussion is productive. Especially if it’s over a good beer. I would avoid getting loud and redfaced – which can be hard after a few libations – but some of my best friends are knowledgable, fun Republicans and I wouldn’t have them any other way.

4 Responses to “Arguing With Republicans. Is It Worth It?”

  1. 1 Dara
    September 23, 2008 at 11:07 am

    “One issue voters, mainly evangelicals, are the worst. They are uninformed and do what they’re told regardless of the consequences. There is no depth to their thought process and their leaders are unethical and unaccountable. I will not shy from an argument with these yahoos, but I also do not expect any positive result from these conversations. Most of the time, I have to present the flaws in christianity first because it is christianity that serves as the foundation for these people’s close-mindedness.”

    Why do people hate Christians so much? Why is it I’m not allowed to have my beliefs without being persecuted for them, just because they differ from what the world wants?

    I know that there are plenty of Christians who don’t even warrant the name–I do know some who are like what you’ve said. They irritate me just the same. But we’re not all like that, I promise. 🙂 We all have our faults, and I know I’m definitely not perfect–I’ll be the first to admit I can have a bit of temper sometimes, but I try to fight against it.

    As a Christian, I’m willing to hear ALL arguments, regardless if I believe in them or not. It’s healthy to discuss all issues, even if I don’t believe in them. People have a right to their opinions. I have no right to tell people what they can and can’t believe–Why is it then that when I express my views I’m instantly told I’m close minded and a yahoo and unethical…it just doesn’t make sense to me and it hurts to know that people will lump me into a catergory simply because I’m a Christian. What happened to stereotyping being wrong? It seems it’s not the case when one’s a Christian…:(

  2. September 23, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Dara – I don’t hate christians. I oppose organized religion and the vastly negative results of the control wrought by organized religion. People may believe whatever they want – including that their loving God would send his “beloved children” to an eternal hellfire for not believing in him when he gives no evidence of his existence.

    my problem is the legislating of christian values to the detriment of others. banning gay marriage, limiting embryonic stem-cell research, criminalizing abortion, (here in texas) dry counties, not being able to by alcohol before noon. tatooing was illegal in Oklahoma until 2006. this limiting of civil liberties is a result of the seepage of organized religion, mainly christianity, into our political sphere. i will speak out against this relentlessly.

    furthermore, it is not christians who are persecuted. they are merely told so by their leaders in order to form more cohesion and control. an atheist could not be elected to congress in this climate, let alone be president. atheists – especially here in texas – face dramatic prejudice in the workplace and at school.

    this is why i speak out against christianity and organized religion. until society becomes appropriately skeptical of organized religion based on fantastical notion, it will have an undeserved stronghold on our culture and our laws.

    i have many christian friends and family – i do not hate christians. and as i was once a christian myself, i offer the philosophy “hate the sin, not the sinner.” i wouldn’t say i hate christianity – but i certainly oppose it. i support your belief of what you choose. i do not support the widespread control organized religion presents.

  3. 3 Rob
    September 24, 2008 at 10:29 am

    “In any case, pro-Republican media sources are just one long circle-jerk”

    And ALL the other pro-Democrat media sources aren’t ? Are you that naive? Look at the major media sources on news television today, FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, CNN. Which ones are pro-Republican? Which ones are pro-Democrat?

    Exactly. The media favors Democrats and is trying to get Obama elected. You know it. I know it. If you can acknowledge that (if your going to fire shots at the pro-Republican media in the first place) – then maybe i’ll continue reading.

  4. September 24, 2008 at 10:59 am

    haha. that whole “are you that naive?”, “you know. i know it” line is bullshit. i think there are many problems with mainstream as a whole, but if you think the media favors Democrats, i’d say you haven’t been paying attention.

    if obama had four bouts of cancer, a wife with a former prescription drug problem, an wed or unwed pregnant teenage daughter, a VP who shunned the media like they were the plague, applied for a marriage license before his first divorce was over and then married his second wife a month later, couldn’t get on the computer, pulled 180s on torture, immigration, taxes, the religious right, etc. the media would pulverize him. they’re giving mccain a free pass on those issues and many more. the media hasn’t said word one about the surge not being the actual factor in the reduction in violence in iraq – which is a major mccain talking point.

    mainstream media has become a joke.

    i’ll absolutely agree that MSNBC has a liberal slant – with Chris Matthews, Kieth Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. During the day, however, they ALWAYS have representatives of both sides when conducting interviews.

    CNN is simply sensationalist and it doesn’t matter how they bring in the big bucks.

    Fox is a Republican propaganda machine. How can a news organization be unbiased run by a man who is VERY good friends with powerful Republicans – did you see Sean Hannity’s interview of Palin? That was a joke. 88 percent of Fox’s viewers are Republican. For a reason.

    And when I say the pro-Republican media sources, I meant Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Townhall.com, etc. Not the media as a whole. I probably should have clarified that. I’m also not saying the lefties don’t have their media outlets (ThinkProgress, HuffPo, Talking Points Memo, The New Republic, etc. etc.).

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