5 Laws for Cool Conservatives

How to Argue with LiberalsConservatives are often characterized as being out of touch and hopelessly out of date. But that’s not necessarily true.  The concept behind “Conservative is Cool” begs the question “What would make a conservative compelling?” As I’ve reflected on this question I’ve come up with five laws that all conservatives desiring to be cool (read, “relevant”) should follow in order to make a positive impact on the political discussion in America.

1.  Don’t Argue With Die Hard Liberals

If you’re dealing with philosophical zealots, and are one yourself, it’s really hard to persuade to conversion.  Any discussion on political topics merely becomes an argument without resolution. Such arguments that add no value to discussion become shouting matches exchanging volleys of talking points.  They aren’t constructive to actually finding solutions and reaching consensus. That doesn’t mean you don’t discuss or debate, but pay attention to who you’re engaging with. A lot of people are actually pretty flexible on their political viewpoints and there are some things that they’re willing to be persuaded on.  Learn to listen and then respond to those areas in which you can engage constructively.

2.  Stay Informed
Most people in America don’t know where certain countries are, don’t know the first thing about American history and don’t know how the government works. Don’t be one of them. Find a couple of good news sources, follow them and read up on what’s happening in the world.  This way you can actually make constructive, intelligent and ultimately helpful comments in those political discussions and debates you do take part in. There is nothing that makes conservatives look less cool than when they sound like uninformed loud mouths shouting gratuitous generalizations.

3.  Establish Safe Zones of Agreement
What I mean by this is that we should work on finding areas of agreement with people rather than just trying to brow beat them into accepting our view of how the political system should work. The beauty of the American system is that it can encompass a variety of viewpoints and potential solutions.  It leverages the power of consensus to seek solutions to society’s issues. By establishing safe zones and being willing to actually agree with someone who may not initially agree with you communicates that you’re approachable, thoughtful and don’t just toe some party line. This brings people to you to talk about politics. If you want to be a cool conservative consider what political issues you’re open to different opinions on and focus on discussing those.

4.  Read, Listen to, Watch the Other Side
I get really frustrated when I hear conservatives just listening to other conservatives because guess who they begin to sound like? This creates the perception that conservatives don’t have anything original to contribute to political conversation in America. This perception contributes to the caricature of Republicans as a party, and conservatives at large, as being out of touch and being opposed to actual progress. This simply isn’t true as I’ve written before.  Reform-minded Republicans actually have been at the forefront of many good social reforms. Those past leaders were willing to read, listen to and watch what other people were saying.  Additionally, if you’re going to meaningfully critique the other viewpoint you need to know what it actually is. Quite often political discussion in America degenerates down to logical fallacies, name-calling and people making arguments that have nothing to do with the actual issues. Unfortunately most congressional leaders of both parties fall into this category of communication. Don’t be one of them.  Be a cool conservative who actually listens, pays attention and can actually make a thoughtful critique that builds people’s understanding.

5.  Stop Posting Stupid Things on the Internet and Calling Them Fact.
I see it frequently on Facebook, but won’t give it the credit to linking to it:  Reactionary groups often engage in slanderous comments, outright name-calling, illogical arguments and everything else that liberals love to use in lampooning conservatives. I know, every philosophy and every party has a few nuts in the house and that’s okay. But a line gets crossed when we start to use punchlines and (distasteful) jokes as evident for argument. The easiest way to be a cool conservative is to not be a Facebook philosopher who boils everything down to a philosoraptor caption.

Following these five “laws” doesn’t mean that you throw away debate, doesn’t mean that you don’t stand up for your beliefs and it doesn’t mean that the liberals are right even if they’re shouting the loudest. What it does mean though is that now you are the one communicating effectively and you just look cooler because you can handle turbulent political issues without losing it.


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