WHEN YOU PUT IT THAT WAY…

So everyone has the co-worker or family member who constantly spouts right wing propaganda, believes anything Glenn Beck tells them, and incessantly clutters your inbox with ridiculous, poorly written emails about the legitimacy of the current President's birth. The next time you are cornered at the water cooler with this person and they happen to be ranting about socialized healthcare, please ask them a simple question: If you got fired tomorrow or if the boss decided to stop providing insurance benefits, what would you do?

I'd be willing to bet Uncle Larry and the woman in the next cubicle who thinks the Earth is 6,000 years old have never thought of this. You are likely to get one of three responses. The first possibility is stunned silence, the kind that might be expected of people who stumble through life blithely assuming that they are immune to the disasters that befall others. Second, you will get some ridiculous talking points about personal responsibility – "I'd find another job with benefits" or "I'd buy my own." These statements won't just make Horatio Alger pitch a tent from beyond the grave. They will also reveal how little your acquaintance knows about what insurance costs and how plentiful good jobs are. Third, he or she will insist that they are too smart to allow this to happen to them; having been Smart and Talented Enough to get a job with excellent security and benefits, they confidently believe that outsourcing or no-benefit jobs apply only to the economic opportunities of lesser people.

In short, the answer is likely to be extremely unsatisfying. But at the very least forcing them to think is likely to induce them to bring the conversation to a rapid conclusion before they scurry off to listen to Hannity's America. Isn't that the most important goal here?

(note: I got this idea from another site, but I'll be damned if I can remember which one. Sorry to whomever I am short-changing)

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33 Responses to “WHEN YOU PUT IT THAT WAY…”

  1. J. Dryden Says:

    I don't know that that question would, in fact, prompt thought on the part of the programmed. Left or Right, the thoughtless usually respond to unexpected questions with: "(Vociferous assertion to the contrary/Accusation of irrelevance), and I'll tell you why…" And then it's off to the races. Generally, isn't the best response to disengage entirely? Arguing with a fanatic is like arguing with a schizophrenic; they don't hear the words that you actually say, they hear the ones coming from inside their heads.

    I tried once to challenge an eminently arguable point about the much-ballyhooed notion that Obama's background as a "Chicago politician" made him automatically the corruptest-of-the-corrupt. "How," I queried, "is political corruption a given based solely on geography? Do you really think that New York borough politics, or Baton Rouge politics, or Floridean politics are any *less* corrupt?" Sensible enough, but all I got in return was, "No, and I'll tell you why…" Followed by Beck-inspired/regurgitated irrelevance. After that, I just refused to take the bait. "Huh," I now say. "OK, then. Well, back to work!" No, it's not pleasant, and I'm probably some kind of moral failure. But life's too short…

  2. Maren Says:

    Yeah, I've also found "And I'll tell you why…" to be the response to a mutually-acknowledged sucky situation, with "why" being some variation on "the liberals," "the socialists," "the communists," or, in the case of the client I was talking to on the phone for 45 minutes yesterday, "the elite members of the New World Order." Her explanation for jobs being shipped overseas (where, we both agreed [to my surprise], hapless workers were criminally underpaid and poorly treated) was that Obama (an Arab raised by communists) was just the latest part of the conspiracy to unite North America and "enslave" us all in their evil socialist regime. Also, look at what they did to poor Joe the Plumber.

    A lot of "mmhm"s and disengaging is sadly the only response in some situations.

  3. Daniel Says:

    Nothing quite like that lecture from your Conservative Uncle!! I'll put mine up against anyone else's for most mistruths and wild accusations made against liberals.

  4. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    You think that's bad?(read with awful Peter Griffen voice) I have a close family member who is a die-hard Beck supporter, regurgitating every anti-Obama meme you can imagine. And guess what- she's unemployed, her husband was laid off several times forcing them to move(including out of state), and he's on GOVERNMENT DISABILITY plus a GOVERNMENT PENSION from his previous work. Cognative dissonance.

  5. Ecks Says:

    Yes, you're right, they would launch in on the lecture about how they'd get another job, darn it, and earn their insurance. Why, they heard about this guy who lost his job, and had a sick wife, so he joined the army for the health benefits, and that is the model or responsibility, and how we should all be… All you've done is shifted them to an equally well-worn other rant. "Ah," you say "but in today's environment jobs are hard to come by," and now they are off to the races about how the unemployment now is because people are getting lazier, because if people really wanted a job they could easily get one. Why, they have an uncle who…

    It's a perfectly closed system impervious to facts, logic, or the constraints of internal consistency. These are people completely comfortable with large doses of hypocrisy, see Bob Altemeyer's book (free online).

    Unfortunately there probably isn't much you CAN do except shut them up. They aren't connected to reality, and aren't interested in being. The only thing that is important is that the tribal (loosely defined) us is right, and the tribal other (i.e., you) be both wrong and contemptible under all circumstances. You can score any point on them that they would acknowledge is a win. Your best case scenario is to reveal them as a nut to everyone else, and thus contain the damage from spreading past their own unholy authoritarian small-mindedness.

  6. jon Says:

    Some Democrat should put forth a Shut-That-Nonsense-Up Bill that takes away all Federal insurance coverage for all Federal Employees, their families, retirees, and the Congress. Yes, that includes the military. After all, it's not a right to expect the government to provide insurance, after all.

    Ron Paul might agree, but how many other Republicans?

  7. jon Says:

    It would be fiscally conservative, too!

  8. Joe Says:

    "The Zoo" is your source of the question:

    http://tpzoo.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/the-question-to-ask/

  9. ladiesbane Says:

    Support from the opposite perspective: I work in insurance. Most of my coworkers voted for McCain, and think Limbaugh tells it like it is. One lady who is extremely well off works only to keep her medical insurance; the income is utterly irrelevant. She developed cancer back in the 90’s, and if she hadn’t had a job with medical insurance, her family would have lost most or all of their assets. While our state has a risk pool for the medically uninsurable, and most people qualify for the premium reduction program, rich people (like the rest of us) don’t want to pay full price for their coverage.

    Think her $3270 in annual premium has paid for her cancer care? The annual premiums for all employees at the company for ten years won’t cover her treatment for that one year, and believe me, the rest of us are running up bills of our own.

    I want single payer, but I also want people to understand how much it costs, or we’ll go broke seeing the dermatologist for dandruff.

  10. Displaced Capitalist Says:

    I generally try not to let out my political leanings in casual conversation. The likely result of such a slip would be an assault on my church with an automatic or destroying my place of work with a fertilizer bomb.

    It's getting too dangerous to have political discussions in public anymore.

  11. Desargues Says:

    Engaging and arguing with such people is a mistake to begin with. Why not hasten their demise by making their heads explode? Instead of offering arguments, retort with insinuation, distortions, and outright lies about the sources of their "information." After all, the right-wing propaganda machine has been doing nothing but that for the last thirty years. And look how well it's worked for them. Have you ever seen these guys trying to make an honest argument? It's always the politics of personal destruction. So, instead of reasoning with them, why not just reply, "Yeah, but you got that from O'Reilly, and he's a known rapist. I've seen court papers with the woman's testimony. How can you trust a twisted pervert like that." Or: "Oh, that must be what Rush says. Didn't he get arrested with a bunch of illegal Viagra and blow when he came back from the Caribbean, where he screwed underage girls? That's your source? Honky, pleeze." "Glenn Beck, you say? But everyone knows that in 1990 the molested a teenage girl who then disappeared mysteriously!!!!! Huh! What do you make of THAT!"

    Then sit back and enjoy watching them have an aneurysm.

  12. Displaced Capitalist Says:

    Desargues: WIN

  13. Desargues Says:

    DC: Thank you, sir. I do what I can to help the cause.

  14. Desargues Says:

    In all seriousness, though, the fact that about 24% of this country has gone off the deep end irreversibly raises some serious questions of political tactics and strategy (I believe it also gives birth to some very uncomfortable questions about how desirable a strongly democratic system really is, when about one third of the populace, given democratic access to law-making, is determined to poison the well for everyone else).

    But let's focus on the first bundle of concerns. Since attempts at persuasion and compromise with these farm animals don't seem to lead anywhere, but instead drain progressive factions of energy, time and resources (only to see the Right's puppet-meisters fabricate another outrage du jour in an attempt to control the news cycle and shape perceptions), isn't it better to just stop talking to these shitheads, and bypass them entirely?

    We could outflank them with a two-pronged strategy: a group of outfits constantly aiming at persuading the 5 to 10% of really persuadable voters in the "middle," making sure to stay on message (rather than try to respond to whatever vile shit Murdoch's baboons throw at them), and a resolute, unscrupulous Sturmabteilung of the Left — a kind of progressive gang of Brooks Brothers rioteers, a liberal flying squad to dispatch wherever right-wing shenanigans take place and disrupt them with whatever it takes: lies, distortions, propaganda, bribes, undercover cameras, craftily edited footage, quotes taken out of context, you name it.

    I guess all I'm saying is that I'd like to see more bare-knuckle progressives, like the unions used to have in the 20th century, rather than arguers and reasoners. What good is reasoning with chimpanzees?

  15. Desargues Says:

    In other words, something like what they have in Europe. Unsurprisingly: I am, after all, a European. An East European, like Ed's ancestors, I suppose. Except not Polish.

  16. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    Well Glenn Beck spent some time in Phoenix- and there have been some cases of girls getting raped, or disappearing in Phoenix, probably some from around that time. Some of those cases were never solved. Coincidence? I don't believe in coincidence…

  17. Satchel Says:

    I think everybody who comes on on the Glenn Beck side of the health care debate should, as an exercise, try to buy health insurance on the (current) open market. Talk about a rude awakening!

  18. ladiesbane Says:

    @Satchel: they do — but there is no awakening, I assure you. They blame welfare mothers, abortion, and "illegals" for driving up premiums, and they blame Democrats when they are declined due to being poor risks. (Yeah, your blood pressure, heart condition, and colon had nothing to do with it. Go eat some more steak and bitch about deregulation.)

    They don't understand insurance when it works for them, and they don't understand it when it doesn't.

  19. Desargues Says:

    @Satchel: Open market? I thought in a lot of states, one or two health-care 'providers' have unhealthily large shares of the local markets; like, up to 83% or so. Hence the Democrats' threat to remove their exemption from antitrust laws, as a payback for those disingenuous 'studies' they just published alleging skyrocketing costs if the Dems pass a public option.

    A market is not really open when it's dominated by near-monopolies.

  20. merl Says:

    That doesn't work, Desarques. I remind my FIL that Rush is a junkie every time. It doesn't matter to him

  21. Desargues Says:

    Don't relent, Merl. If he shrugs it off, ask him why is he objectively pro-drugs; follow up with: 'Are you in cahoots with some Mexican cartel?' Also, why he tries to poison our children with junkie propaganda. Ask him if he thinks Jesus loves a drug-addled whore-monger, and if this is the example he wants our dear Americans to follow. Remind him that Reagan said drugs sap the life-juice of the American spirit, and that someone who has sex with prostitutes very likely has AIDS.

    Lather, rinse, repeat. (That's what those retards do themselves, anyway.) Psych him out with, "Next you'll tell me we should all take drugs, like you and your pal Rush." Threaten to call the DEA and unleash the Feds on his ass. Inform him that you'll call his superiors to ask if they do drug testing, because you suspect he may be a junkie.

  22. Desargues Says:

    Above all, remember: the goal is not to persuade, but terrify, intimidate, and silence. Don't raise their awareness; raise their blood-pressure. With their unhealthy lifestyles, a heart attack is just around the corner. The less of them, the better our world.

  23. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    One thing I like to do is just play right into the hands of these conspiracy nuts. Remind them that once Obama calls in the UN troops to form the NAU, no amount of local militias will stand a chance. Do they really think that Ruger Mini-14s and SKS carbines will stand a chance against the US military's laser-guided bombs, or the hordes of Chinese tanks? Plus, American militias have virtually no access to the arms markets that could provide them with anti-tank and anti-air weapons. Not to mention the fact that all our UN troops will know precisely where to go thanks to the barcodes on the backs of roadsigns.

    Resistance is futile, foolish backward Christian Americans!!! You are right, we liberals really ARE Commies, and our victory is as assured as the sun will rise tomorrow. ABANDON ALL HOPE! DO NOT FEAR GOD…FEAR US!!!

  24. willf Says:

    I usually just give them a blank, friendly grin and say: "Did you know that Bugs Bunny is sixty four years old this year? Imagine that, sixty four years old. Wow, huh?"

  25. displaced Capitalist Says:

    UN troops will know precisely where to go thanks to the barcodes on the backs of roadsigns.

    Imagine that, sixty four years old. Wow, huh?

    O. M. F. G. Aslan and willf you are literally making me laugh my ass off.

  26. Mrs. Chili Says:

    I am sick, almost unto death, of the people who think that Glenn Beck and his ilk are reporting news. They are clowns manipulating the facts for entertainment; they have nothing of value to say. I need a break…

  27. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    Every once in a while, any given liberal blogger should include a short "update" about how you and the local ACORN organizer met with distinguished guests from the Chinese army, in an undisclosed location on US soil. Thank the Chinese officers for training your local ACORN volunteers in the use of small arms, clearing buildings, and search and seizure of private arms.

  28. comrade x Says:

    Aslan, don't forget to tell them that we are also going to convert tham to Islam and force their women to marry when they are 13 and wear burqas.
    On second thought, scratch that- that would actually appeal to some of those knuckle draggers!

  29. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    A salam alaykum wa rahmatullah, Comrade X. Baby steps… First we indoctrinate the children of those who can't afford private school, or don't have time for homeschooling.

  30. displacedCapitalist Says:

    Aslan: That goes back to my warning from earlier though. I you mention a particular group, such as ACORN or Unitarians, and then say "arms training" you're setting up a dangerous situation. The next time the wingnut sees someone from that group he'll shoot first and ask questions later.

    For all we know some wingnut is reading these comments as we speak and gearing up to go to his local ACORN office and murder everyone there…

    :(

  31. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    Bismillah, do not worry. The nutjobs willing to murder their purported enemies will not be any more or less encouraged by something like these comments. The right-wing persecution complex means that they will make up whatever they must, regardless of what we do. Do you think that some kind of parody inspired that nutcase in Knoxville to shoot up the Unitarian church? Ditto with the Holocaust museum thing.

    Do not fear, Allah knows best.

  32. displacedCapitalist Says:

    Well, coming up with alternatives could be fun too… for example:

    "Hey did you hear about SQUIRREL? They're the secret cabal behind ACORN. Well the thing is, they heard about how ACORN was defeated, and man, they are coming to fuck some shit up! Better get in your bomb shelter right now!!!"