While I do my best to avoid debates with supporters of Donald Trump, I still do engage in them occasionally. I think it’s a mistake to avoid political debates/discussions with these folks entirely. If nothing else, debating Trumpsters helps sharpen your own knowledge, while also getting a glimpse at the propaganda/talking points/ridiculous nonsense they’re currently using to defend one of the biggest mistakes in American political history.
Though I do tend to avoid debates with Trump supporters I know personally. Seeing as I’ve already lost a couple of friends since the rise of the orange menace, I’ve typically chosen to take the “high road” when it comes to my Trump-backing companions. Also, since most of my friends know what I do for a living, they tend to avoid political debates with me.
However, there have been exceptions.
Such as yesterday when, for some unknown reason, a Trump-supporting friend decided to message me to ask if I really believed that Robert Mueller’s investigation was legitimate. Naturally, being the typical mindless drone who supports Trump, they proceeded to claim that it’s all part of some “conspiracy by the FBI to bring him down, linked to the establishment’s efforts to undermine him because he’s shaking Washington to its core.”
I’m paraphrasing what they said, but that was the general gist of it.
It didn’t matter that I pointed out how Mueller, James Comey, and the current head of the FBI are all Republicans. It didn’t matter that I pointed out the Department of Justice was currently run by Trump’s own people — including the deputy attorney general who appointed Mueller in the first place. The only thing that mattered was that he supports Trump and wants to believe this whole Russia collusion scandal is nothing but a fabrication made up by people out to get this “president.”
After a fairly short back and forth on this, I stopped and did a bit of a “reset” on our discussion. Realizing that we were getting nowhere because my friend couldn’t care less about anything factual I was saying to him, I decided to use a tactic I’ve used in most of my debates with Trumpsters — trying to make them think for themselves.
I brought the debate back around to Trump as a whole, his incompetence, bigotry, racism, and, yes, Russia. I wanted to get away from his ability to regurgitate talking points he had recently heard on Fox News or from some random blog he follows on Facebook. I knew as long as I lured him into my “trap,” if you want to call it that, he’d be forced to actually think for himself, and that’s when things would get interesting.
So, after some more mostly scattered back and forth, I finally just told him to stop and listen. I wanted him to answer five simple questions using actual facts, and if he could provide rational answers for what I was going to ask him, I’d be more than willing to admit that, at least on some level, I have been wrong about Trump and his supporters.
He initially dismissed the idea and claimed I’d never do such a thing because I’d call any “evidence” he used fake, but I swore that wouldn’t be the case. I told him I’d be more than willing to admit if I’m wrong and all I wanted to do was see if he could answer a few questions based on the reasons why I think Trump’s an incompetent, pathologically-lying racist who has no business being president.
“Fine,” he begrudgingly agreed.
So I began.
1. If Donald Trump isn’t a racist or bigot, then why has he inspired white nationalists, the KKK, and neo-Nazis — while frequently earning the praises of former Klan leader David Duke — to levels not seen in decades? If he’s not a racist or a bigot, why have they flocked to embrace and support him? Do you believe the KKK and neo-Nazis would support someone who legitimately believed in equality of the races, embracing minorities, and that this country was created for all people, regardless of skin color?
2. Trump’s frequently bragged about how much he’s improved the economy, despite the fact that the vast majority of the economic numbers we’re seeing now are clearly a continuation of what we saw during the Obama administration when he was calling them “phony” and a “hoax.” Can you tell me what, exactly, Trump’s done to improve the economy (specifics, not just saying he’s repealed regulations) and what changes he made at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics that made the numbers he once called fake suddenly real — seeing as they’re eerily similar to the economic data he said wasn’t real during the Obama administration?
3. After spending years attacking Obama for playing golf, while claiming during his campaign that, if elected, he’d rarely get to play the game because he would be too busy, can you please rationally defend the fact that Trump’s currently on pace to play more than twice as much golf as Obama?
4. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Trump’s campaign didn’t directly collude with Russia. Seeing as Russia launched a cyber attack against our election, since Trump cited stolen documents published by Wikileaks nearly every day to attack Hillary Clinton, couldn’t it be argued, direct collusion or not, that Russia did help elect him? After all, if he didn’t feel the information that was stolen by Russian hackers that Wikileaks was publishing would hurt Clinton’s chances at winning, then why did he mention it nearly every day? Is it common for politicians to use information to attack opponents that they don’t feel will help their chances at winning an election? Furthermore, is it common for a candidate’s campaign staff and top supporters to pump out a foreign adversary’s propaganda about their opponent on social media days before a huge election?
5. If either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama had mocked POWs; called a Gold Star widow a liar; didn’t say word about a deadly attack that claimed the lives of four Americans for two weeks until the media called them out on it; lied about sending a $25,000 check to a Gold Star father; was caught on video bragging about sexually assaulting people; fired the head of the FBI right in the middle of an investigation into whether or not they colluded with an enemy; attacked Fox News as “fake news” whenever the network said something negative about them; had four people who worked for them charged with crimes by the FBI (with two pleading guilty); continually undermined the credibility of U.S. intelligence agencies who said that an enemy most certainly attacked us; suggested Fox News’ FCC license should be revoked; praised a Russian president who attacked us; and spent most of their mornings watching cable news, then whining about it on Twitter — would you really be okay with all of that?
After asking those questions, I made it clear that I was more than willing to provide multiple sources for anything I had just said if they doubted any of it.
At first, silence.
This all transpired via Facebook messenger so I knew he had read the questions I had sent him.
Eventually a few minutes turned into 30. Then 40. Over an hour had passed, and I had stuff to do so I had gone on with my normal day, knowing that anything he’d send back to me would come to my phone — but nothing.
Eventually I sent a quick message, “Still waiting on your answers.”
After doing my errands for the day I finally sat down in front of my computer to do my usual thing and I noticed something peculiar — my friend had blocked me.
Someone who I had known for several years, though had mostly just maintained contact with on Facebook, and chatted with occasionally about sports and whatnot, had actually blocked me without trying to answer a single thing I had asked him.
Once it all settled with me, I felt a sense of accomplishment. Not that I believe that I changed my now ex-friend’s mind, but that my simple, logical questions were apparently so “terrible” to him that, instead of even trying to answer them, he simply chose to block me.
It was validation that someone who claimed to be such an ardent member of the “Trump train” was so ill-equipped to actually back up his support that five simple questions were enough for him to sever ties with a friend he’s known for several years.
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