How to Convince a Liberal With the Socratic Method

I was watching Senator DeMint on the Daily Show last night and I had an epiphany.  But before that, let me preface what was going on.  Jon Stewart was being uncharacteristically very rude, and clearly not willing to look inside and be wrong sometimes.  In fact, he spent the entire 30 minute interview (I found the full two part interview) attacking Mr. DeMint, always interrupting, and telling Mr. DeMint how he was wrong.  I am a fan of Mr. Stewart and usually he at least lets guests he disagrees with to actually speak.    Mr. DeMint was being extremely polite, generous, and sincere, even in the face of Mr. Stewart’s utter disregard for his book and the sweeping straw-men he kept painting the book with.

Mr. Stewart’s main argument was that what we need is good regulation, that we can cut some regulation but that we don’t need to “take a flamethrower to all regulation.”  From Mr. Stewart’s insinuations, I gathered he thinks that the constitution is an imperfect document that should not be adhered to, that we currently live in a capitalist society, that the problems with health care are due to capitalism not government interference, that the solution is more government interference, that government interference does not drive up prices in health care, and that government can administer health care better than free people among other things.  I began feeling the urge to respond for the Senator, and this is what I came up with.

“Are you perfect?”

“Is any person perfect?”

“Is government made up of people?”

“Did well intentioned imperfect people create the mess we are in today?”

“How can well intentioned imperfect people perfectly select which government to keep and which to get rid of?”

“Do you think you have the authority to decide which government powers to keep and which to get rid of?”

“Who do you trust to have that authority to make those decisions?”

“Is there a document that can make those decisions for us?”

“Does that document restrict the government or the people?”

“Do you think you are smarter than that document?”

“Do you think you can be trusted to subvert the authority of that document?”

“Who do you think should be entrusted to subvert the authority of that document?”

“Do you think government should be able to subvert that document?”

“Who do you think has more power, you or a corporation?”

“Who do you think has more influence on government policy, you or a corporation?”

“If you think a corporation has more influence on government policy, why do you think more government will save you from corporations?”

“If government did not have the power to interfere with and influence markets, how would corporations make laws that benefit them?”

“Who gave corporate banks bailouts?”

“Whose homes were foreclosed upon by big corporate bailed out banks?”

“Whose regulations created the housing bubble?”

“Which entity causes inflation?”

“Which entity claims the right to invade other sovereign states?”

“Which entity should be most restrained by the people?”

“Do you think the government should have the power to run your life?”

“Do you think the government has the right to run certain parts of your life?”

“Do you think the government should be able to decide which parts of your life it wants to run for you?”

“Is there a document that already outlines what government can and cannot do?”

“What is wrong with it?”

“If the government is allowed to subvert ‘the document’ for one thing (such as health care), what restrains it from subverting the document for other purposes?”

“If subverting the document is common practice, then is it a big deal for government to subvert the document by taking away freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, or a right to trial?”

“If we no longer have the right to trial according to the government, are we still free?”

“Does government give us our freedoms or are they natural born?”



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