West Suburban Patriots

an independent Tea Party group in DuPage County, IL

How to debate your crazy Leftist relatives at holiday parties and not start WWIII

First, I'm directing these "tips" to myself, because I am quick to fly off the handle when I’m trying to convince a Leftist that they’re wrong. I’m determined to learn to remain calm. As I explored this topic, I realized that many of us need to learn how to compellingly present our principles. We'd like to encourage members of WSP to help us put together a team to work on this. Maybe something like “The Patriot Players”, to present skits and debates that demonstrate effective techniques. When Darlene and Erin were part of the group, occasionally they did skits and those were well-received. Seeing it "acted out" seemed to help people.

New member Gerry Werber has some compelling arguments for the whole concept of the tea party that we will explore in detail at a future meeting, and the Holan brothers are experienced debaters who can teach us a lot, so we have the beginning of a team. 

We will also spend a future meeting learning about the Delphi Technique: what it is and how to counteract when it’s used on you at public meetings. Today, we only have time for a few quick tips. I suggest you watch videos on Youtube by two excellent debaters, Dinesh DeSousa and Ben Shapiro, and observe their techniques. Below are links to a few of those videos. These tips will also be posted there.

• First, it's probably NOT good form to announce the moment you enter the house, “On the subject of Barack Obama, I have just one thing to say: I told you so!”. Gloating and rubbing their faces in the mess are a sure way to start off on the wrong foot.

• Remember that the Left is all about emotion and feelings, not logic and reason. They love the words “fair” and “equal” and “social justice”.  We need to learn more about appealing to emotions rather than logic, at least enough to draw the Left in to reasonable discussion.

• The object of debating the Left is not to destroy your opponent, but to win them over (or those listening) to our principles. Listening and trying to find a point of agreement allows us to be friendly, not angry. i.e. “Yes, it must be frustrating that the ACA website isn’t working. I discovered that Google spent $2 million to develop their website, yet the ACA website has cost us $650 million of our tax dollars so far! Why do you think that is?”. It’s “our tax dollars”, it cost “us”. Help them ponder with you the inescapable incompetence of most of what the government does.

• Decide who your audience is. Through your thoughtful conversations, you may not necessarily win old Uncle Charlie over from being a radical Leftist to being a conservative, BUT you might subtlety influence cousin Joe, the SEUI member, who seems to be intently watching the football game but is actually listening to your debate with Uncle Charlie. You just might cause HIM to re-think some of his preconceived ideas.

• Conservatives often fall into the trap of blindly defending the establishment GOP. Acknowledge the harm both political parties have done and are doing to the country. Don’t let it degenerate into Repubs vs. Dems. Rather it’s US (We the People) against THEM (the establishment politicians). 

• Watch for the Leftist to escalate and become loud/angry/insulting (they usually do), then seize the opportunity to remain the calm, rational one in the conversation. 

• Have a point and keep it narrow – don’t let them lead you down rabbit trails. Keep bringing it back to the point.

• Keep in mind this quote from Aristotle: “It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.” 

• In everyday life and practice, if you have children or family members who are Leftists, do not bail them out when their ideology causes things to fall apart for them. This is tough love. It's difficult to do, but usually quite effective. 

• Always remember: You can pick you friends, but you can't pick your relatives! Try to love them in spite of their ignorance. Don't compromise your principles, but don't allow arguments to cause a chasm in your family that can't be bridged.


Dinesh DeSousa

No ObamaCare ("Give me your sandwich" Plus "Who is in the wagon and who is  pulling the wagon")


Ben Shapiro "How To Convince Your Liberal Friends To Vote Conservat...


How To Debate A Liberal: Ben Shapiro


The Leadership Institute:

Online webinars:


Smart Debate: Confronting Leftists in Public Arguments 

Smart Debate: The Power of Persuasion

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Comment by Carol D on December 18, 2013 at 9:29pm
I would really like to hear feedback on this subject. Were these tips helpful? Do you have some ideas you can share from your own experience? Are other WSP members beside myself interested in further training in this area?

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