Updated: Dec 28, 2019
It’s that time of year again. Families are gathering to celebrate this joyous season. And then there is your crazy uncle BillyBob.
He comes to dinner wearing his red MAGA hat, all set to take on any and all challenges thanks to a Christmas “gift” to Donald Trump’s supporters with the website How to Win an Argument with Your Liberal Relatives.
Here are some clues on how to counter the distorted “logic” presented by that one person, like Uncle Billybob, who has gone off his meds.
First, use small words. Words beyond one or two syllables will likely cause them to rant about “speaking American”.
Second, accept that he and others like him are factually challenged. Trying to confuse them with facts could result in violence, so you’d better hide all the sharp knives and don’t let him in the house with the handgun he’s got stuck in his belt next to the carry permit in his pocket.
Third, speak in a low, measured tone to contrast with Uncle BillyBob’s screaming rants. Studies show that he will eventually lower his tone to match yours. But don’t hold your breath.
Fourth, be prepared for some truly shocking leaps of logic and plenty of “whataboutisms”.
Now, let’s take a look at specific issues.
The economy is a YUUUGGEE positive talking point for Trump supporters like BillyBob, so try to use an analogy they can understand, say NASCAR.
When BillyBob points out how well the economy is doing, ask him to imagine he’s in the last row of a line of 75 cars in a 500 mile race. He slowly makes his way to the front of the pack. After 450 miles, he’s far ahead. Then when he pulls into the pit for a tire change, they change drivers. The second driver crosses the finish line and claims credit for the victory.
Undoubtedly, Uncle BillyBob will be ecstatic because his guy won, but when you point out that like Trump and the economy, he just took it to the finish line after he had done all the work, BillyBob will sputter and stammer and claim that “Economic numbers under Obama were fake”.
Then he’ll ramble incoherently about various NASCAR drivers from the past, trailing off as to how he could have been a NASCAR driver, how too many damn cars are made in Japan and how he ate sushi once.
Don’t try to follow the logic here. Just pat him on the head.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, BillyBob shouts “Build the Wall!”.
Asking him who will pay for it will trigger his Pavlovian response, “MEXICO!”
This is when words fail you, so you resort to visual examples. Uncle BillyBob, tobacco juice staining his lips, smiles and says, “I like pictures”.
But these are pictures of children in cages.
BillyBob screams, “But Obama...!”
You ask him to explain. He mutters something about wanting more pumpkin pie. As he wolfs down half the pumpkin pie, Uncle BillyBob mutters about “damn Democrats” and the “Fake impeachment”.
Disclaimer: The following back-and-forth is based upon actual events:
Me: How was it fake?
Uncle: They didn’t have no evidence.
Me: What about the phone call?
Uncle: Read the transcript!
Me: I read the transcript. He asked the Ukrainian president to interfere in our elections.
Uncle: No, it was about the Bidens trying to rig the 2016 election.
Me: But the Democrats lost that election. How were they trying to rig it?
Uncle: I didn’t say they were good at it.
Me: You mean like the Russians?
His face begins to redden, like a pressure gauge getting close to the danger zone.
The conversation continued:
Uncle: They didn’t have no witness.
Me: They had plenty of witnesses.
Uncle: Yeah, but they was circumstances witnesses.
Me: The White House refused to allow witnesses or even a single document.
Uncle: They had Executive Privileged (He puffs out his chest proudly as he says this).
According to the Second Amendment, that means the president can do whatever he wants.
I ignore that he is confusing the Second Amendment with the false claim that Article Two of the Constitution gives the president unlimited power.
Uncle: Dems are just mad cuz they got no collusion on the Mueller thing. He was, whatcha call it, exonerated.
Me: Actually, Mueller didn’t say he was exonerated. He said it was up to Congress to decide.
Uncle: Yeah, but the Bidens, but Hillary, but Obama…
At this point the needle goes to red and Uncle Billybob shouts “Fake News!” He is in full meltdown mode, approaching Chernobyl levels. He retreats to another room to find his Safe Space.
I look on as he wraps himself in a blanket that resembles a flag. The soothing sounds of Sean Hannity ranting on his flat-screen TV begin to lower his anxiety.
Was this just whining?
Ask Uncle BillyBob. He sees it as winning.