Twenty Questions (Kavanaugh Rules)

These are urgent times.  In order to keep the Blue Wave rolling, we need to get as many votes as possible—or at least neutralize the energy Trump is whipping up at the expense of Dr. Blasey Ford.  We need to think seriously about how to convince people that voting Republican is not in their best interest.  Even if they would never, in a million years, vote for a Democrat, perhaps we can get them not to vote at all.  In an earlier blog, I noted that merely spouting off facts will not change anyone’s political opinion.  Indeed, the more contrary facts we’re exposed to, the more entrenched our political beliefs become.  We reason with our brains when it comes to everyday matters, but our politics, which form part of the basis for our identity, reside in our guts.  Political opinion is truly visceral.

Indeed, so deeply ingrained are our political views that some have questioned whether we should expend any energy at all on trying to persuade Trump’s supporters to change their minds.  Instead, we should focus on the independent or undecided voters, who have not yet drunk the Kool-Aid.  I have some sympathy for this position.  For one thing, it seems that the average Trumpanista simply does not want to participate in a robust debate on the merits.  Let me give you an example from my personal experience.  My local rag recently published my little op/ed piece on Kennedy’s retirement (you might recall it: it was a jauntily prescient piece called “Dear Justice Kennedy:  Why Now?”).  While I got many nice emails in response (thanks, kids!), I did, predictably, get a few nastygrams.  While most were the kinds of garbled mixtures of venom and sweat that one would expect, there was one that was actually coherent.  The gist of my correspondent’s criticism was that I had a liberal perspective.  Well, duh.  But since this particular person had bothered to respond to my essay without resorting to personal insults, I wrote back.  The fact that I was a liberal really had nothing to do with the legitimacy of my argument, any more than him being a conservative would have to do with his.  Instead, I asked him, what about the substance of my argument?  Where did he see the weakness?

His response:  I was a stupid libtard snowflake.

So, yes, I see where people are coming from when they say, “Fuck reasoning with MAGA-hat hounds.”

But I am a teacher, and almost by definition, teachers have an optimistic view of human nature.  Why else would we spend so much time working with other people’s children if we didn’t believe that reason can overcome passion?

Therefore, I think we should continue trying to engage with them. For no other reason, if we want to rebuild civil society, we need to talk to each other.  But, instead of telling them what we think, I believe that the more effective stratagem would be to ask them what they think.  As any teacher can tell you, there’s nothing like a carefully worded question to kickstart those rusty cognitive belts and gears.  Additionally, as outlined in the truly profound “How to Win Hearts and Minds in the Age of Trump,” those questions should be related to the three techniques that are likely to change minds:  use paradoxical thinking, keep it personal, and make it relevant.

Now, I realize that sometimes it’s hard to remember which questions to ask when what you really want to do is throttle your blow-hard cousin until he can no longer say “lock her up.”  Never fear, kind reader.  I, your diligent correspondent, have composed a list of twenty questions regarding a variety of topics, entirely suitable for use between now and the midterms.  You’re welcome.

Kavanaugh Questions[1] and Other Relevant Queries

  1. If your house were burgled, wouldn’t you want the cops to interview you and the suspect?
  2. If you were accused of a crime, wouldn’t you want a thorough investigation to clear your name? [This question is especially adaptable: you can use it for Kavanaugh, Mueller, Trump Foundation, and Stormy Daniels questions, too!]
  3. Sure, we’ve all had too much to drink at one time or another—but when was the last time you lied about it under oath?
  4. How are you going to get coverage for your [fill in the blank] if Kavanaugh overturns the pre-existing coverage provisions of the ACA?
  5. If the news is fake, why doesn’t Trump sue for defamation? Wouldn’t you, if you were as rich as he is?
  6. Can I call it fake news the next time you catch me eating the last brownie?
  7. A deep state conspiracy? With thousands in on it? And no one letting on?  I don’t know, man– we couldn’t even get the six of us to keep quiet about Grandma’s surprise party.
  8. Doesn’t it piss you off when he says one thing the one day, and then the opposite the next? I mean, does he think you’re stupid?
  9. When you tell the truth, do you keep changing your story?
  10. How many vacation homes will you buy with your tax cut?
  11. How are you going to pay off your farm loan if you can’t find a market for your soybeans? (Or: How will you manufacture those widgets if your company can’t afford the steel to make them?)
  12. So, let’s assume Kavanaugh is right and a president shouldn’t be subject to criminal laws. Does that mean he actually could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it?
  13. So, if little Suzie goes to university and gets raped, don’t you think the university should do something about it?
  14. You don’t believe in science? Can I have your iPhone, then?
  15. Hey! Too bad your house is built [at the bottom of the hill] [on the riverbank] [next to the slag heap] [less than a mile inland] [beside a hog shit pond]—the floods from global warming will do a real number on it!
  16. Every time I read about those kids locked up on the border, I can’t help but think about your little [fill in the blank].  What if he/she/they were locked in a metal cage and not allowed to play? [Be as Dickensian as you want—your imagination will never match the horrors these kids face.]
  17. Speaking about the tax cut, you did talk to your HR about how many exemptions you should take to avoid a huge tax bill after January, right?   You didn’t?  Really?  Ouch!
  18. Which is more likely to affect your retirement plans: a tax cut of $1316 until 2027 (for a household income of $ 75-100K) or cuts to Medicare and Social Security to fund permanent tax benefits to the rich?  Or do you have $2 million socked away to self-fund?
  19. Let’s assume that you’re right, and global warming is a hoax. Wouldn’t you still want your kids and grandkids to drink clean water and breathe clean air instead of dealing with pollution from fossil fuels?
  20. How do you talk to your kids about bullying and sexual assault these days?

Oh, there are scads more questions you can ask–I barely scratched the surface.  For example, you might have noticed that I omitted the classic “I don’t think Gramps/Uncle Bob/Cousin Billy Joe died in France/Germany/the South Pacific just so Stephen Miller can strut around and pretend to be Heinrich Himmler, do you?” But now you know what to do, and I have every faith in your ability.  So, what are you waiting for?  Go!

©2018 D.R. Miller

[1] By the way, by “Kavanaugh Questions” I do not mean yelling at the other side,  accusing them of plotting against you, staring blankly until their time is up, or turning any of their questions against them.  Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley might think that’s appropriate behavior, but I think it’s clear by now that we have higher standards than that.

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2 Responses to “Twenty Questions (Kavanaugh Rules)”

  1. janellecousino Says:

    Brava! The questions are truly a gift that will keep on giving. Thank you.

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