Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Matthew Desmond's List of Seven Types Of Republicans And How To Debate Them

I ran across Matthew Desmond's list of Seven Types of Republicans and How to Debate Them not too long ago.  Here's the boiled down list of the types:
  • The Educated Republicans
    • He doesn't mean so much they went to college, but that they've learned about their issue, at least from the Republican perspective.
  • Fox News and Conservative Talk Radio Republicans:
  • Christian Republicans:
  • Tea Party Republicans:
  • Birther Republicans:
  • Racist Republicans:
  • Extremely Uneducated Republicans:
    • These are folks who are Republicans because the people they're with are Republicans, otherwise they don't know anything but the sound bites
Lists can range from gimmicky fluff to thoughtful organization of ideas.  This one falls somewhere closer to thoughtful.  But it suffers from common list problems like simplification and  tempting us to pigeon hole people into established categories instead of seeing the nuances of each individual.  

This list makes some useful distinctions and might, at the very least, inspire readers to come up with other types of Republicans - I'd certainly add 'economic Republicans' and 'Republican by birth' for starters. 

What makes this list special, is that it links the types of R's to different strategies for debating.  Most people have a basic style when they debate or argue without thinking too much about what might be effective with the specific person they are debating.  They have, de facto, just one strategy that they use. 

Matthew forces us to recognize there are different strategies, to assess the person we're talking to, and then adjust our style to them.  It's a good lesson for talking to anyone. 

I've pulled out some of the strategies he offers, but you need to go to the original to see how he links them the different types.  
  • Hit them with facts and don't let them get off the subject.
  • Keep demanding the facts that back up their assertions.
  • Hit them with facts about the separation of church and state and ask questions about the positions Jesus would take on today's issues.
  • Refuse to answer their questions until they answer yours.
  • Instead of trying to argue with them, try explaining algebra to your dog.

And since we've gotten to debate tactics, here are some links that look at this from different perspectives:

Toastmasters is an international organizations that helps people develop skills in public speaking.  They have meetings everyday in most US cities and many other countries.  Here's the Toastmasters' intro to debate skills.

Here's a talk with slides of more formal debates from Monash University in Australia.

And here's an attempt to develop a hierarchy of debate, beginning with the lowest level (Name calling) and going up to more legitimate tactics.

And here's one that is presented totally seriously, but clearly is showing you how NOT to debate.  That's also a good lesson.


  1. Wingnut debate was covered fairly comprehensively sometime previously, consider much of it a snapshot in time, and only a very few terms are dated or showing their age.

    Possible addendum, 'neoconsternation' - one hasn't experienced that one.

  2. Well, can we consider the voters of democratic party as homogeneous unit? If no, then you can't prepare a single answer because one answer may not be authentic for everyone.


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