I had an interesting evening on Twitter last night. I’d tweeted to Bernie Sanders about something he had said about single payer healthcare, and soon got into it with a Trump supporter, who seemed belligerent at first. It started off with this comment:
Medicaid is evil. It takes money from some who rightfully earned it to give to someone who didn’t.
#freemarket #FullRepeal #capitalism
I refuted this tweet hotly, and before long, me and this guy were engaged in a heated debate that went on for over two hours and ran into hundreds of tweets.
I rarely enjoy debate, and I’m not the type to try to convince people to change their views. I’ve never liked confrontation. Perhaps that’s due to my lack of self-confidence. I’d rather try to change minds by writing a blog post, even though it’s more likely all my anti-Trump posts fall into an echo chamber of other people who agree with me. Many people who disagree with my political beliefs on my blogs tend to be too aggressive, so I usually either delete their comments if they resort to personal attacks or general abusiveness, or just let them stand without replying if I do approve them. The safe echo chamber of yea-sayers is a lot more comfortable for me than a pitchfork-carrying army of scary nay-sayers.
Verbal political discourse and debate just aren’t my thing and I feel like it’s not what I’m strong at, even when I’m sure I have my facts straight and am certain my view is the correct one. I’m the sort of person who likes to “live and let live.” If you support Trump and his policies, I’m far more likely to accept that and ignore you than to argue with you.
But last night was different. I stepped out of character and engaged in a heated debate with this Trump supporter for two hours. Not only that, but I also had fun doing it. Although the conversation was heated, neither of us resorted to name-calling or personal attacks. I felt like my brain was working at its highest capacity and I was able to come back at him with snappy and factual refutations to all of his (what I thought of as) lame excuses for his wrongheaded beliefs.
Engaging with this Trump supporter was fun, but still exhausting. His tweets came faster than I could keep up with and finally my brain began to slow down. He wasn’t going to change his mind; he just wanted a debate, which is something I find unusual in Trump supporters. He wasn’t a complete idiot, but for moral reasons I disagree with his no-government libertarian viewpoints, even if his rationale made a type of sense, and I told him this. He seemed to respect my right to feel morally offended by his beliefs but he stuck by his guns.
What I did find interesting was that after awhile, there were long silences from him before he’d tweet his next refutation to something I’d said. I took those silences to mean he was thinking about what I’d said, especially since his arguments became weaker over time (or at least it seemed that way). I don’t know whether I planted a seed in his mind or not, but I decided at that point I’d had enough and told him I had to run. I also thanked him for his time, saying I appreciated the fact he engaged in real debate without resorting to insults or aggressive rhetoric. He responded in kind and said he looked forward to a future debate.
When I checked my Twitter account this morning, there were several more tweets from him, replying to other things I had said. Seems like he wants more, but I’m not sure I’m ready right now.
This was a lesson to me that not all Trump supporters are idiots who can’t engage in intelligent debate or don’t want to have their minds challenged. It’s never a good idea to resort to stereotype, because there are always exceptions.
The last thing he said to me last night was to suggest a conservative book he had read that he thinks will change my mind (I doubt I’ll read it). Hey, at least he reads. I told him I hoped he’d think about some of the things I’d said. Who knows, maybe he will.
I feel like this experience was a boost to my self esteem.