General Question

laureth's avatar

Conservatives: what sources would you consider? (details)

Asked by laureth (27189points) May 28th, 2010

As a social liberal and fiscal moderate, I often find myself involved in debates with politically and socially conservative types of people, both on Fluther and elsewhere. Often, in these debates, I like to bring up facts and figures to support the points I’m trying to make.

Now let’s assume that the fact I’d like to reference is in direct contradiction to a conservative point (hence the debate). As such, it won’t be very likely to be reported on FOX or any other typically conservative-leaning site, but it is a fact nonetheless. Yet if I link to a typically liberal or even neutral site, I’m often told that it’s just media spin and probably a lie. As such, it’s written off as unimportant to the debate at hand, since the existence of the fact does not bolster the conservative opinion. The debate, instead of being a useful dialog of fact and information, breaks down.

Conservatives, with all due respect, how can I best point out to you a fact that you might not be aware of, if it is not on a conservative-leaning site? What sources and sites (outside of the Conservative echo chamber) would you be most likely to believe? Can we agree that it is possible for there to be a fact out there that might, if learned to be true, change your opinion on some matter? Or is there some debate procedure, beside the introduction of facts and information, that is better suited to the way that you think, that might work better (such as a good story, appeal to faith, quotes from noted Conservatives, etc.)?

In short, Conservatives, what is the best way to turn our debates from unproductive shouting matches into a productive exchange of ideas, information, and thought? What would make you most willing to listen to a contrary point, even if you choose, upon hearing, to not believe it?

I’m willing to meet you halfway, if you’ll tell me how. Thank you.

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31 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

First don’t assume we all loved George W. Bush. The only reason many of us voted for him was because we felt he was better than Kerry or Gore, and not much. I wrote him at least once a month telling him how he was doing, and he never got better than a C grade from me.

As soon as he got elected he ran away from the fiscal conservatism that he ran on. There has not been a viable fiscal conservative candidate for that office since Reagan. Both Parties are too concerned with protecting their power. Neither has had the good of the country in mind, and has not since Reagan.

I trust the congressional record the most, and even that is too often used as a bully pulpit by whoever is speaking. Personally the voting record is the best indicator. That and when I write my congressional delegation with a question, I don’t want a 3 page nonanswer form letter back. Especially when it asks for financial support for the reelection.

Cruiser's avatar

I share your pain on the other side of the isle and honestly don’t think there is an answer that would really work to that end. In my experience it all comes down to the quality of the person you are discussing a topic with and how open they are to new information.

And as you pointed out the media sources referenced are many times suspect and biased to a fault op eds which certainly doesn’t help further the discussion. I search my news out on a meta search engine and that yields both conservative and liberal POV’s and make up my own mind based on not necesarrily on the political bias of the source but what seems most logical or relevant n.

laureth's avatar

@Cruiser: as far as my debate sources go, I do try, consciously, to pick ones that aren’t like the Huffington Post. I realize that NPR is even thought of as “too liberal” for some, but they try. As far as blogs go, I generally write them off (or consider them) based on who the blogger is. Op ed is exactly that – opinion, generally, which is not nearly as valuable as fact.

bolwerk's avatar

It doesn’t really matter. The people in the United States who call themselves “conservatives” are latching onto a convenient, benign term for their own authoritarian self-absorption. Their arguments tend to be emotive, not factual, which is largely why anti-authoritarian groups have generally failed when engaging them in the mass media echo chamber. Antifas and anti-authoritarians try to construct reasoned, considered arguments while these so-called “conservatives” can just wave a flag and spout “Gawwwd blezzz Amerikkkkkuh!”

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@WestRiverrat With respect to the voting record, what do you do when a bill has multiple unrelated provisions (e.g. adding an increase in public health spending to a defense appropriations bill)? If someone votes against the spending increase, they’re also voting against the defense appropriations bill. If you just look at the voting record, it would seem like they “don’t support the troops” (or some such nonsense).

JLeslie's avatar

@WestRiverrat You think Reagan was a fiscal conservative? I think Clinton was.
Pay for what you buy. My definition of a fiscal conservative is not spending money you don’t have. I can’t understand why supposed fiscal conservatives in favor of the war are not ok with paying for it? Why do you think Reagan was fiscally conservative, because he cut taxes? Clinton balanced the budget. I don’t want to move away from @laureth main question, but I think your answer might fit in with what she is asking.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@Dr_Dredd That is why I also look at the congressional record. It usually has the reasoning of the people for their votes. Worse comes to worse, I write them and ask.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Reagan increased revenues more than anyone else…unfortunately congress in its usually fashion, increased spending 3 times the rate of revenue increase. We can thank Tip O’Neil for most of that, every budget Reagan proposed, O’Neil would hold up and say it was dead on arrival. Then Congress would spend what they wanted.

Rarebear's avatar

You might look at the Cato Institute for sources. They’re generally pretty reasonable.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@WestRiverrat Do they answer you back in a coherent fashion? :-)

laureth's avatar

@Rarebear – They seem somewhere between mainline Republican and Libertarian in their slant, yes?

WestRiverrat's avatar

@Dr_Dredd very seldom, I have not voted for an incumbent since Jimmy Carter.

—edit, Ok I did vote Bush the second time, but I voted 3rd party the first time.

Rarebear's avatar

@laureth Not somewhere in between. They are a Libertarian stronghold—very different than mainstream Republicanism nowadays.

skfinkel's avatar

This is an interesting question. Important too. Yet, it seems that emotions run so strong, that facts play only a tiny role in some people’s thinking. I saw a man from Louisiana on TV who was saying, he didn’t care how much oil leaked out, he wanted more digging and now. Didn’t seem to matter to him about the “facts” that the environmental damage from the gushing well is extreme—and will even probably affect him and his livelihood and his children and grandchildren—all he could think about was getting more oil. There are so many people like that—people who just can’t move out of their sphere of thinking. Even if there were sources that presented new information, would they consider it? This man was virtually standing in a pool of oil, and maybe until he has to drink it, it won’t make a difference. And maybe even then—with his dying breath, he will not get it. I don’t know what more facts anyone would need, and yet, from his viewpoint, no problem.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@skfinkel if it was the same interview I saw, the man was referring to building barrier islands between the oil and the marshes to prevent the oil from contaminating the marshes.

Obama needs to be brought to task for the delays in protecting the coastal areas from disaster. The marshes that are being ruined now are a very delicate ecosystem that provides nesting and nursery habitat for many species.

Would the press have treated Bush the same way if he had taken 30 days to ‘study’ plugging the breeches in the levee system after Katrina? And then said he needed another 60 days to finish the study?

JLeslie's avatar

@WestRiverrat No doubt Bush would have been ripped apart if this oil catastrophe happened under his watch. He is an oil man, his administration deregulated the industry somewhat, he is viewed as anti-environmental protection. Bush should be glad he had Katrina and not this if he has to choose between the two. As I write that it makes me sick, when I think of how many lives were lost and the suffering from Katrina. AND, if I can rant just a little more on that topic, Jeb Bush was excellent at handeling the hurricanes, I just can’t understand how George could be so incompetent and ignorant when he had a brother who could clue him in. Although, I blame the governor of LA most of all. But I digress.

I do want to point out that Dems in the public eye are being critical of the president, James Carville for one. Long time Republican and oil man T.Boone Pickens and conservative Ben Stein came somewhat to the defense of Obama.

promethea's avatar

I’m a liberal too, but I try to keep up on what both sides are doing.
There are lots of resources. Some of the ones I use regularly:

Also, this one will give you the top 50 most popular conservative websites:

eden2eve's avatar

There are certainly media which wouldn’t be classed as “conservative, but which conservative people might trust because of their reputation for honest reporting. I see the NY Times in that light.

Editorial Opinion… not so much, but even so, they do offer both points of view, and they, according to both sides of the aisle, seem to be nearly impeccable in their reporting.

laureth's avatar

@eden2eve – That’s the sort of answer I’m looking for, here. I’m unlikely to find things that contradict conservatives’ points on conservative sites, but they’re unlikely to listen to sites that stray too far from conservatism (from what I’ve found – and I hope I’m wrong).

mammal's avatar

Blah…..for the average conservative, securing a good, continuous income, accomplished by any means necessary, short of breaking the laws defined by other conservatives, trumps any policy, political opinion or scientifically proven, absolutely incontrovertible fact that isn’t conducive to this end.

laureth's avatar

@mammal, see, I’ve found that when people go into debates armed with zingers like that, no matter what side they’re on, two things happen. One, the other side tends to stop listening. Two, the speaker probably isn’t listening either.

I have no doubt that both side have a lunatic outer fringe that are impervious to data. I’ve seen it on the Right and I’ve seen it on the Left. There’s a certain percentage that will never hear what you have to say because they are blinded by ideology. While this question is open to those folks as well (I’d love to know if there’s a source they’d listen to), chances are slim that anything I say will move them.

The people I’m trying to debate with are mostly just people that, like me, love America and believe in truth, they just have a different set of priorities, assumptions, and principles than I do. Just like me, they want what’s best for the country – we just don’t agree on what that is. And if they believe something that is factually in error, and can be shown some kind of indication that it’s erroneous, perhaps they love truth enough for it to matter to them.

But if I were to go in with all guns blazing like that, with all stereotypes in full play and my mind closed, that’s not a debate, that’s a fight. And if my mind is not open, I am no better than an opponent with a closed mind. Because sometimes – I’m the one that’s wrong. And if I want to practice what I preach, sometimes I need to learn from my opponents if they are right and I am wrong.

Now, if only the Conservatives that oppose me would link to sites that I can agree are legit, that would be interesting, no? ;)

laureth's avatar

@Rarebear – Having spent a little while checking out the Cato Institute (thanks for pointing it out by the way, GA), I’m finding that it espouses the sorts of views I argue against in many cases. I will definitely keep it in mind as a source that Conservatives will listen to, but it does have a strong bias in the direction of conservatism/libertarianism. The thing about sites where news and opinion is presented through an ideological filter (any ideology – left, right) is that they tend to ignore any parts of reality that don’t fit in with that ideology. And those are exactly the pieces of reality that I’m looking for a way to present in a way that will be listened to. In other words, are there sites or outlets which regularly point out things you may disagree with, but which you still believe are satisfactorily truthful and reliable?

(I could go into some of the points, but this is a question asking for “non-conservative sources that the Right still finds credible,” not for “poking argumentative holes in those sources.” [grin])

mammal's avatar

@laureth well, i have made a statement and am willing to debate it’s merit, which you have simply skirted around, most verbosely, i might add. That aside, if one were to cut the said income of the said conservative, one may find a strange political metamorphosis, possibly a leap to the left or to the extreme political right or even into the next world via the top floor window.

JLeslie's avatar

@eden2eve That surprises me. I thought the NYTimes is accused of having a liberal slant. Are you conservative? I guess I am thinking of how Right Wingers view the paper, which is not to be grouped in with Conservatives in my opinion.

LostInParadise's avatar

One of the more annoying things about conservatives is their willingness to make up explanations without regard to facts. I am thinking of some the quotes I have seen from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter and the beliefs of creationists and Holocaust deniers. I wish you luck, but I don’t think you are dealing with a group that is particularly interested in getting things right.

laureth's avatar

@mammal – We can debate the merits of your point all you like, in the proper venue. Perhaps it would be a good Fluther question? Also, I’m sorry if the number of words I use is offensive to you. I think complex thoughts which are not always amenable to being turned into one-sentence soundbites.

@LostInParadise – I’ve noticed that to be true myself, but I was hoping that the less fringe elements might still pop in with some answers as to what sources they might consider listening to. So far, not many have. I did ask this at the very beginning of a long weekend hoping that it would be widely seen, too. I guess my next question ought to be, “Conservatives, if there are no other sources that you’re willing to consider as factual, how do you know if your opinion on some matter is grounded in misinformation? And if your view is grounded in misinformation, why ought we to consider it as a source of governmental policy?”. I’d ask that as a Fluther question myself, but as I pointed out before, that’s the sort of question that makes the other side stop listening, and that’s not what I want to do – even if I would desperately love to know the answer.

bolwerk's avatar

What’s with this assumption that far right-wingers (“conservative” is the wrong term) are generally high-income people? A simple cursory look at where federal money goes shows that it leaves higher-income blue states for lower-income red states (going by the Bush era maps). Indeed, it’s apparently these alleged “conservatives” who are being subsidized the most. You see this with the Teabaggers, where it’s clear they’re angry that the perks (e.g., medicare) they enjoy might also be enjoyed by others.

skfinkel's avatar

@WestRiverrat What I heard about the berm, if that is what is was, is that it uses hard to get sand, and most of it is feared to me destroyed by hurricanes. I think that was the concern about those blockades.

eden2eve's avatar

I would call myself a once-conservative (by upbringing), now much more moderate (by experience and being open-minded). I’m more liberal socially, although not on all issues. I think that most compassionate people are. That said, I disagree with many principles espoused by both sides. There used to be an Independent Party, and that would be closer to my designation.

Yes, I agree that many people consider the NY Times to be politically liberal. But I, and others who may be more conservative than I, understand that it’s possible for a media outlet to be HONEST in their reporting, no matter what their bias may be. Their bias may be evident, but it’s still possible to get the truth. That’s why I mentioned their editorial pieces as being less trustworthy from a conservative point of view.

But even so, they do offer at least some lip service to the conservative POV, which is not the case in all media, on either side of the spectrum. And they are known, even by detractors, as being very reliable in their reporting. This reputation for integrity is very important to them, and I don’t see them trying to lose that respect by attempting to deceive their readership in order to promote a political agenda. They certainly may occasionally color their reporting with their bias, but intelligent people are able to discern that and mine the facts.

I also am very aware of the willingness of the conservative media to garnish the truth, and am not trusting of many of their publications. This isn’t something to be proud of. And it’s one of many reasons for my loss of respect for the radical right. Of course, I never was much of a radical, of either flavor.

ddkd4c's avatar

I have not much to say to this. I have short conservative ,but I am a very good listener.

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