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The Beginner's Guide to Pissing Off Conservatives

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Let's begin with the question, what is a conservative? Nobody's quite sure anymore - least of all conservatives themselves. Long ago, conservatives believed in morality, balanced budgets, and small government. It's muddled now, but we can agree that you know them when you see them. One principle they share in common is actually rooted in their earliest intellectual tradition - the thinking of Weaver, Kirk, and Buckley - and perpetuated by the rantings of Limbaugh and Alex Jones. That principle is the hatred of liberals and anything they think is liberal. And that may be the only thing that holds them together. Oh, and they adore Trump.

Where do you find them? If you think that they're all sitting in a rocking chair in front of the general store somewhere in America's rural south, think again. You can find them almost anywhere. You don't have to go to Trump rallies or gun ranges. Look around you next time you're sitting in church. Strike up a conversation with the folks at Starbuck's. Look around the dining room table on Sunday afternoon there's Uncle Bob! If all else fails, take a rocking chair in front of the general store.

What are the best techniques? First, don't be ashamed if you're among the hated elites - wear the label as a badge of honor. Go ahead and use big words of two or three syllables to get your point across. Talk about public policies and discuss their consequences. Support your positions with facts and figures. Stick to the things you know, and always speak the truth. Listen to these folks. Be sensitive to that first spark of outrage that shows you're getting through. Above all, be persistent - don't quit until you've pissed them off completely.

Why go to all this trouble? It's important to understand that, when confronted with progressive ideas, conservatives will react with anger. They've been conditioned to hate anything they see as liberal, after all - including views that others see as moderate or even right of center. So when they run across something that doesn't fit their worldview, they get pissed off. They need to get pissed off. And we need to help. Their anger compels them to take positions that are absurd. And that's the key.

How does this help? Have you ever woken up at three in the morning, cheeks burning, asking yourself, did I really say that? Maybe you insulted somebody or did something really stupid at a party. This happens to everybody - sometimes even conservatives. And it's up to us to give them the opportunity to ask the question.

I recently posted my opposition to payroll taxes on an economic policy page. Remarkably, it sparked the passion of resistance among one or two of the regulars there. In the course of the discussion, positions hardened to the point where one of the participants declared that $1 trillion a year in payroll taxes is trivial. Now, love 'em or hate 'em, payroll taxes of $1 trillion a year are anything but trivial. These folks know better, too. But I managed to piss them off enough that they declared for a position that's absurd. And early some morning, they just might wake up with their cheeks burning, asking did I really say that?

Everybody likes to think of themselves in the mainstream, and we pick our news sources, TV programs - and even our friends - to confirm our belief. But by speaking out for reason, logic, truth, and science when you are among conservatives, you are reminding them in some small way that not everybody thinks as they do. It'll piss 'em off, of course. But it might also influence their views in some infinitesimal way.

Does this actually work? Sometimes. Evidence can be found in the slowly growing popular acceptance of the reality of anthropogenic climate change; it's only a matter of time until GOP leadership is forced to acknowledge the reality of science - and the reality of their rejection of the obvious. More evidence - the Senate Intelligence Committee, controlled by the GOP, finally agreed that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in favor of Trump. There's even evidence that persistence can even have an effect on Trump himself. After dogged badgering by the press, he finally admitted - not too long ago - that President Obama was, after all, born in the USA.

Conservatives are gonna hate your liberal-ness anyway, so you may as well turn their hatred to a positive purpose. They might not say stupid things if you don't piss them off. And if you can spark their anger by using your words, facts, and knowledge of current issues it's not hard to get them to say stupid things. Listen carefully, then reinforce their position by mirroring - "If I understand you correctly, you're saying".." It'll be easier for them to remember their own words in the wee hours.

 

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Thirty five years as a small business consultant, CFO, and university educator specializing in quantitative business and economic modeling - a suite of experience now focused on economic inequality. Carefully attributed data, thoughtful (more...)
 

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