Impositions of Morality: Arguing With Lefties

A Different Approach

Over the course of your political life, if you’re a conservative, you have probably run into an issue or ten where the focus is a matter of  morality in some way.  Abortion is one of the issues, and if you happen to favor a prohibition, you will be attacked as some sort of Neanderthal who wants to impose his or her morality on others.  I’m sure you’ve all heard this, and in some contexts, I suppose a few of you may have said this, and it is the standard answer leftists use when you touch on an issue where they are fearful of being undone.  One of the problems for conservatives is that too often, we cede this ground without a fight, not challenging their claim, and not contradicting its basic premise either.  This is the kind of bumper-sticker argument that frequently appeals to the young, and if we’re going to beat the liberals, this is one instance where me must learn to fight fire with fire.

You can almost write a script of the order of remarks in such a debate, wherein you have a liberal on one side, and a conservative on the other.  My approach to these sorts of debates is now much different than it was two decades before.  When I see that such an argument is imminent, I now take the step of a preemptive strike:

“Don’t you agree that as individuals, it is wrong to impose our individual moral standards upon others?”

Upon hearing this issue forth from your mouth, the liberal inevitably thinks victory is already achieved, and they smile (either inwardly or outwardly) as they wait to close in for the kill:

“Yes, absolutely, I believe that.”

It’s now your turn to smile. Show all of your teeth.  Whatever the subject, be it abortion or welfare, or anything in between, this is your moment to pounce upon them with vigor:

“Why do you then impose your morality by virtue of the tax code?”

They may look at you in confusion, as the formula is somehow “off.” They don’t have a scripted recipe for this ready, and it’s not in their 1-2-3 Half-Bake Liberal Cookbook. They almost immediately and reflexively turn to the next best thing:

“No I don’t! What are you talking about?”

Take your time, as you already have them on the ropes, and do to them what they ordinarily try to do to you: Badger and mock them.

“You think rich people should pay a higher percentage, right?

“uh, yeah…”

“You believe people should be able to deduct child-care expenses, right?”

“sure, I uh…”

“Mortgage interest? College tuition?  Their children?  Their government-approved home improvements?”

“well, I, uh, look, that’s not what I…”

“That’s the truth of it, isn’t it, and you’re imposing your morality at every turn! Why?”

“It’s the right thing to do…”

“According to whom?”

“Well, everybody…”

“You don’t speak for everybody! Who are you to speak for everybody and place your own view above all of theirs? What sort of moral superiority do you practice?  What sort of person are you anyway?”

If they’re not crying by now, it’s because they’re frozen.  If you’ve done this sort of thing to one of them in front of a crowd of their friends, all the better.  By now, if they’re not looking for their blankets while sucking their thumbs, they soon will be.

Now you might say that this may work with the tax code, or with welfare programs, but you might ask me how it could ever work with abortion.  That’s easy too, but remember what their game is and how you must defeat it, and the answer is that you must always take the initiative from them without having seemed to have done so:

“Don’t you agree that as individuals, it is wrong to impose our individual moral standards upon others? I mean, you wouldn’t want somebody imposing their will on your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, right?”

Again, they will be a bit disarmed at this point, because you seem to be saying something not so controversial, and they will generally agree pleasantly.

“So given that, if somebody were to impose their estimation on the moral value of your life, that would be horrible, wouldn’t it?  Nobody should have that right, should they?  Nobody should be able to say to you what your life is worth, or whether you have a right to it, right?”

“Of course not. It’s preposterous! You can’t do that to people!”

They may even throw in a little indignant  grand-standing to prove their commitment to this argument.  Then it’s your turn:

“So then why do you do it?”

“Huh?”

“Why do you impose your estimate of another human’s worth on those persons and call them disposable?”

“I don’t!”

“You’re in favor of abortion, aren’t you?”

“That’s different! That isn’t even a person!!!!”

“According to whom?”

“Well, everybody, science, law, ROE V. WADE you know, EVERYBODY!”

“You now speak for everybody?”  (Rinse and repeat.)

Now you may on occasion run into the slightly more sophisticated liberal, who has thought these things through a little more than the average, and when you do, they’ll try to switch the context back, but don’t let them. Stick to your premise, and your context, and even chide them for so doing.  Mockery is permissible, and in fact, preferred.  If you have a really smart one on the line, an admitted rarity to be sure, since most liberals I know add an automatic one-hundred points to their actual IQs, just remind them of a few things worth noting:  Screaming  “everybody” and “society” or “government” and “science” does not constitute an escape clause from this moral proposition.

This is because a moral system or standard that references third parties for their alleged validity cannot be valid.  For instance, saying “the law says…” is of no value, since you can write a law that says anything at all.  Saying “science” is meaningless because for every possible position there exists at least one scientist somewhere who disagrees, and his name just might be Galileo.  To say “society” is to argue a falsehood since none can claim to speak for “society” or “everybody” and in most cases not even “all those present”(unless you’re in a room full of liberals.)

You might say, “but Mark, but Mark, God is a third party! Are you ruling God out?”  Yes, in this context, I am afraid I am, for at least one very good reason:  Who can claim to know God’s mind?  If you use this argument, they will throw that back in your face mercilessly, and in logic, they have a valid point.  You might then wonder, if you haven’t already, “but Mark, how can you claim rights that come from God?”  I don’t, and if you read my arguments in this blog carefully, you will have noted I make no such arguments.  This is because lefties will naturally throw at me: “How do you know? Can you prove it?”  Of course, at that point, I would be stymied if that were the basis of my argument.

Instead, I rely upon something the founders described as “self-evident.”  They described it as “Nature, and Nature’s God.”  You see, whether there is a respect in your heart or not for the existence of God, you must admit of the existence of Nature, being part of it, and in it at all times.  It is the context and the environment in which you exist, and in which any such argument takes place.  There is no avoiding it.  If you believe in God, you naturally believe He created all in Nature, and Nature itself, but even if you do not believe in a God, you cannot deny the existence of, well, all existence.

Now you still may ask how I argue that with a liberal who insists that rights are not a natural construction of our universe but instead a figment easily removed by the government or a mob.  They extend their view most particularly to property in all its forms, since it is their peculiarly disclaimed objective.  Waive at them your billfold, or your purse, and ask them if they’d like its contents, all else being equal.  If they stubbornly answer “No,” you can ask them why they insist government take it for them.  If they answer “yes,” you need only say: “Come and take it if you can.”

That’s all the proof of your right that you need, but it’s also the proof of their depravity.  For all their baseless argumentation, what they really condense into is a tribe of primitives with clubs, willing to bash in your skull, in order to get their way, just the same way as their ancestors, and every other miserable statist who has ever lived.  Over the years, we’ve yielded far too much ground to them by permitting them to pretend morality only has one side, and only a few applications.   Like your own ancestors, who civilized this world and wrested it from their kind, perhaps only temporarily, your answer must remain the same: “No.”

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  • http://twitter.com/BDWatcher bdwatcher (@BDWatche

    Very good! At this time, I have argued that pro choice advocates have no right to take my money to finance an abortion… personal responsibility has been thrown out the door and abortion has become birth control of choice for those unwilling to be responsible for their actions. I state that Americans are the most giving and most charitable peoples (due to financial and personal success), so, there is many other ways to finance an abortion than to take my money for this purpose. I don't use moral precepts, either.

    I will change my arguements and add even more. Good article.

  • http://gravatar.com/teefrtwo Gail

    Liberals have no morals…They just use morals as an excuse to get their way

  • http://adriennescatholiccorner.blogspot.com/ Adrienne

    On my recent trip to St.Paul/Mpls (a liberal den of iniquity) I could ask any liberal the most innocent of questions and invariably heard, "Well, I just don't want to talk about it." Very dismissive. It was clear they knew that didn't have an answer that made sense so they bowed out post haste.

    That's why your approach is so good. We always seem to end up defending our views. You've turned it around and are making them defend their views first.

    • http://www.markamerica.com MarkAmerica

      Yes Ma'am. The normal order of things is that they attack, we defend, but their attacks are constructed on phony ground. Time to pull the rug out…

  • eyetooth tom

    Like the cartoon. It's the eyes that tell the story…Santorum vs Wasserman Schultz . Surely bitter hatred toward right whoever the opponent.

    • eyetooth tom

      Maybe that's whomever…after all I started government school in '48. Which one is Who and which one is whom is a hard one to master. Kinda like who's on first :)

  • Rogue Rose

    Here's an argument that is often heard "Well, you can't legislate morality". I respond with, of course you can, that's what all laws do. That stumps them for a minute. Then I follow with the challenge, name one law that doesn't legislate morality. Whatever law there is, just keep asking why that's the law. The ultimate answer will be, because "it's bad or it's just wrong to do that" or because "it's good or it's the right thing to do". (usually said with much frustration, knowing they've now lost the battle). Let's do a traffic law. You have to stop at a red light. If they're suspicious, they might not go straight to, someone might get hurt or killed, you follow with, because that's wrong?? They might go with, so we can efficiently get from one place to another. Because that's good right? Whatever their answer, it's morality that's being legislated, society deciding what is good or bad. All laws are based on morality, the question is, whose morality will be legislated? And why do they believe morality based on one person's morality is superior to morality held in common by large groups? Say those religious people? And isn't that their own moral judgment if they think it is? (If they're still speaking to you, be prepared for the ever popular – I don't want to talk about it.)

    The same argument works for, if that's based on the Bible you can't make that the law, separation of church and state. Start by pointing out just because it's in the Bible doesn't mean it can't be a law. The bible says it's wrong to steal, kill, or commit perjury, should we repeal those laws. That usually brings us to the "well, you can't legislate morality" argument. Rinse and repeat.

    I'm from MN and can verify that's very much a typical lib position, drive by political snipes. They'll say something very negative about conservatives, or pro lib, then insist, now that they've made their point, that they "don't want to talk about it". Very passive aggressive and very leftist. Heaven forbid an idea they disagree with be spoken in their presence, but you'd better never impose on their "right to free speech".

    Great article Mark. I agree, we need to start taking back the ground we've surrendered. We own the high ground, we just need to openly and logically defend it.

    • Tracy

      Rogue Rose. I'm from Minnesota also and you are so right about the people here. They are experts in throwing out a jab and then running from anything we conservatives have to say. I swear my family majored in this in school. They're wonderfully talented in this aspect. They are always right and anyone else is always wrong. It's exhausting. I found a wonderful way in dealing with them. I don't. They shut up when I and my husband walk into a room. We refuse to rise to the bait. Makes for much more peaceful get togethers. We are not hiding from speaking our minds but when they desolve into shouting matches nothing good comes out of it. We have learned to pick and choose our battles. When politics are involved there is no such thing as Minnesota nice. You know all about this though, don't you.

  • Laurie

    Spot on, they think because their moral code does not come from a Bible,,they have the right to impose theirs. But seriously, most good moral codes have origin in Biblical morals.

  • TracyJayne

    I’d love to know your take on the war on drugs!!!!

  • http://rebintexas.wordpress.com RebinTexas

    Mark,

    Loved it – you had me laughing harder and harder the more I read. I’ve used some of this in the past – but you have honed this to a very fine point!!

    BRAVO!!

    Reb

  • ChevalierdeJohnstone

    Of course this is pure fantasy. You can not have a rational argument with a liberal, because liberals have no interest in rationality. There are two types of people who spout liberal gibberish. One actually believes it, and the other doesn’t want to rock the boat.

    As soon as you bring up the pro-abortion/morality argument, the first will answer with some form of “You’re just saying that because you are sexist.” The second will answer with some form of “Well maybe some unborn babies are alive and some are not…but abortion is such a divisive issue, it’s not worth arguing about it.”

    Rinse, repeat. Talking to liberals is a waste of time.