How To: argue with Trumpers

I’d like to learn some basic techniques for arguing with Trumpers. I feel I’m pretty well informed, but not confident that I wouldn’t get riled, or go off track. Any tips?

Also, you Trumpers aren’t allowed to read any of this, and use it to defend Trump.

Don’t waste your time. They live in their own alternate reality, and cannot be swayed by facts or logic. As Little_Nemo aptly puts it:

When I first saw the thread title I said “Run awaaaay!”

Yeah, just don’t bother. It’s a waste of energy. My 18 year old son is a trumper. I’ve let myself be drawn into arguments with him. Here’s how it always goes:

Son: trump is the greatest President ever! The election was stolen from him by evil Commie liberals!

Me: Here is a thorough checklist of facts that explain why you’re wrong (shares facts).

son: You’ve been indoctrinated by the Liberal media!

Don’t argue with people who lie, make up “facts”, and deny the obvious truth. The last time I felt like dong that, I caught myself, and instead headed out to the garage, barefoot, where I smashed each one of my toes with a deadbow hammer. I made the right choice.

OP, what is your hope to do in “arguing with Trumpers”? Convince them that they are wrong? You can’t use logic or rational arguments to talk someone out of a position that they didn’t arrive at rationally in the first place.

If you’re intending on just making them angry when you argue with them, well, that’s a far easier thing to accomplish.

Over the last year or two, I’ve gradually lowered my threshold for blocking, unfriending, or otherwise breaking off contact with people over politics, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how it’s improved things. I think that we often are afraid of the losses that we’ll suffer—friendship, knowledge, etc.

But when people ‘drink the Kool-aid’, they usually become worse as friends, and contribute less knowledge to discussions.

When people hijack discussions with smack talk, Gish galloping, making things up, name-calling, etc., they’re not likely to contribute much substance. Good riddance.

Incidentally, although the majority of people I’ve broken off with are right wing, it’s not been 100%.

Your first salvo should be “Loser!”
When they rebut with lies about a rigged election, you fire back with “Sore loser!”
Any more effort than that isn’t worth the breath.

I agree with the general tone of the other replies. There’s no hope of achieving anything in terms of changing their mind. Best thing to do is walk away.

ETA: I think an interesting side debate is trying to figure out when we arrived at this point. I know we’ve been progressing in this direction for a while, probably since the early 1990s. But it feels to me like we reached a critical tipping point some time in late spring / early summer last year. Not when COVID-19 became a pandemic, but when Trump stopped taking it seriously. Maybe around June of last year?

ETA 2. Yes, I’ll give Trump enough credit that even if he may not have made the correct decisions initially the response back in March and April did seem to at least be reality based.

Limbaugh/Gingrich didn’t exactly get the ball rolling, but they pushed it down the hill.

Point of Information: The OP is partly motivated by this post from @LSLGuy in which he offhandedly remarks, “In case you wondered, I can eat Trumpers for lunch quickly and effectively. It’s game over for them before it really begins.”

I doubt Mr. LSL was entirely serious. As for myself, I dropped 95% of my goodwill toward President Turnip when he lied about the size of the inauguration crowd. Anyone who didn’t probably lives in a “post facts” plane of existence, where logic and reasoning are problems, not tools. So I’ve got no advice, I just cling to the hope that the rationals can keep the lid on the idiots.

Since at least Goldwater, the right has been claiming that academia and the media are biased against them. Limbaugh and his imitators poured fuel on that fire. Now there is a whole segment of our country that is convinced that our entire apparatus of discovering and publicizing information is untrustworthy.

Pick your analogy: playing chess with a pigeon; wrestling with a pig; beating your head into a wall… It’s hopeless.

Ask them if they’ve been stupid their whole life or did it come on recently.

Like global thermonuclear war, the only winning move is not to play. During his election campaign and throughout his administration I pretty much lost all hope that Trump’s supporters would change their position based on his egregious behavior. I had some glimmer of hope that they would abandon him after January 6, and some did, but many did not and continue to support him. Arguing with Trump supporters is a sucker’s game. My mother is a Trumper and she fundamentally sees the world in such a skewed manner that we cannot even agree on basic facts. If you can’t agree that the sun rises in the East you’re not going to make any headway.

TBH it wasn’t 95% for me, but it was the end of the interregnum between election and inauguration where I was telling myself, “Well, nobody really knows how to be President until they get there. Surely he’ll surround himself with folks who know what they’re doing.”

Foolish, foolish me.

You’ll never win against, or persuade, a Trumper by using an argument that comes from a liberal view. Nor will you ever win by pointing to Trump’s scandals or bad behavior.

The only way to persuade them is to argue from their viewpoint. Point out that Trump policies weakened the United States or made national security worse. Point out that Obama deported way more illegal immigrants than Trump did.

Saying something like, “Trump opposed LGBT! Trump opposed abortion!” won’t make Trumpers oppose Trump, it will make them cheer harder for the guy.

This.

I can’t say I haven’t tried having discussions with the MAGAts in my world, but they’ve failed miserably.

Because of this ^.

We can’t get to a basic set of common facts to even begin a rational conversation about values and priorities based on those facts.

I’m painfully tempted to forward a few of them these two articles, along with a quote from my mother (“The older I get, the more I realize how much we’re all being manipulated.”):

But now you basically have incontrovertible (or extremely hard to rationally dismiss) evidence that they are the rubes who’ve been gulled, and in a Very Big Way.

And their lizard brains are going to go freaking nuts. I see no upside.

But … y’know … if you have to take a run at it, then you have to :wink:

What, you expect me to believe liberal rags like Time and Newsweek?! I’ll believe it when it’s on OANN or my Facebook group!

I wouldn’t phrase it as you have but I think you have a point: if you want to actually persuade someone who interprets reality different than you do, you can’t start with facts as you see them; you have to start by having them reflect on, or otherwise talk and think about, their own value system.

There are some people who can change their minds by being presented with better facts - I consider myself to be one - but most people don’t change easily, and that’s because the inherent assumption is that their opinions and attitudes are consistent with their general life experience and their emotional memories. The human brain instinctively looks for consistencies - a progressive’s facts, even if they are 1000% correct, are presenting information that is, in the view of the interlocutor, inconsistent with what they believe to be ‘reality’.

This is probably a rubbish explanation but I’m not a psychologist.

As many have said, you probably can’t “win” an argument with a Trumper, but it can help you cope with the situation to realize that the person is suffering from a disordered mental state.

-----Carl Sagan, in The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (New York: 1995); Ch. 13, Obsessed with Reality, p. 241

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People caught up in the self-deceptions that are absolutely fundamental to right-wing “thinking” are, in one sense, to be pitied. But if you can’t summon up pity for the deluded one, realize that in most cases they cannot escape from their need to cling to a false worldview:

-----Eric Hoffer, in The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (Harper & Bros., 1951)

Hoffer again, in a passage from 1951 that applies to the 2021 fact that some are profiting from the Trumpers’ impulse to defend their delusions:

-----Eric Hoffer, in The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (Harper & Bros., 1951)


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The Trumpists feel that their beliefs are worth clinging to against all evidence because of the way those beliefs make them feel:

-----Alan Moore, in the documentary film “The Mindscape of Alan Moore” (2003)

More on that topic:

-----Elizabeth Bear, Ancestral Night (Gallery / Saga Press, 2018)


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But though we may not be able to break through the determined self-delusion of a Trumper, it’s vital to stay checked-in. We can’t just throw up our hands and say it’s hopeless; we have to, as it were, work around the willfully-ignorant:

-----Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (New York: Tim Duggan Books, 2017)


^ All are from the book described here: