As plenty of Americans learned anew during their Christmas celebrations, arguing with Republicans, conservatives, authoritarians or Trumpists is guaranteed to be one hundred percent fruitless and unsatisfying. It’s a rock solid guarantee that nothing productive will come from any such conversation. While the progressive wing of the family throws down receipt after receipt to back up their claims, the conservatives won’t because they don’t have anything except their feelings. Even if they were inclined to argue facts, Republicans still can’t because most of the facts argue against them. For Republicans, feelings rule everything.
People with good arguments make good arguments. People with bad arguments try to disrupt the proceedings because what’s their choice? Part of that disruption involves taking over the argument and turning it away from anything productive. No Republican argument can win on its merits since, by design, it has none. What, for instance, is any Republican’s argument against getting vaccinated (other than a 6 year old boy’s idiotic take on freedom being “you’re not the boss of me”).
The Big Lie is a rabbit hole of epic proportions. Every time a Republican insists the Big Lie is true, our news media feels compelled to jump right into the rabbit hole alongside the Republican. But, even though the journalist will deny the lie even as they leap the fact that, once again they’ve had to leap into the rabbit hole to begin with means that The Big Lie has done its job. It means it still exists and still stands as one of two possible choices for “what happened”. Any acknowledgement of the rabbit hole in any way empowers it. That’s why the only good answer to “The Big Lie” is a guffawed “Oh, shut up!” And then you move on to real business.
Really – try it out! And trust me on this – the more derisive the guffaw, the sharper and meaner the “Oh, shut up!”, the more crestfallen your Republican pal will be. Their whole spiel relies on you jumping into the rabbit hole and waving your arms helplessly as you fall. They don’t have a counter move planned for when you don’t jump. Laughing sarcastically in their faces ends the game right there.
Another way to shut down any Republican talking point: “Back that up or it’s bullshit”. There’s no hemming or hawing about it. No niceties. Just a direct look from your eyes to theirs (if they’ll meet yours) and a terse “Back it up”. The only thing backing up will be them – as they prepare to flee. Backing things up is not how Republicans roll. And if a Republican can’t roll you, then they’re rolling – out of wherever you are.
Until and unless our news media stops chasing every Republican down every rabbit hole, our news media will be complicit in undermining American democracy. They’ll insist they’re neutral – just giving each side the chance to speak its truth. But not every argument is really about two versions of the truth. Some arguments are about the truth arguing with bullshit. Just because bullshit makes a case doesn’t mean that case is worth making. And, if the case is bullshit, it’s not worth anything. Giving credence to bullshit and lies puts them on equal par with the truth – and it devalues the truth in the process.
Before long, we can’t tell if we’re inside a Republican rabbit hole or not. It’s all the same – lies and the truth, real and nonsense. Once they have us there?