Ben Shapiro: How to debate a liberal and win

By KTTH | March 8, 2014

How do you debate a liberal who is determined to paint you as a racist, sexist, homophobe who still believes the Earth is flat?

For the answer, we look to KTTH host Ben Shapiro, fabled agitator of leftists everywhere. Shapiro has figured out a winning formula to defeat flawed leftist rhetoric.

On Oct. 3, 2013, Shapiro gave a groundbreaking lecture at the University of California San Diego’s David Horowitz Freedom Center called “How to Debate a Liberal,” a systematic guide to trouncing a lefty opponent.

Want a free eBook of Shapiro’s “How to Debate a Liberal” lesson? Click here to sign up to be a member – it’s free! – at Shapiro’s Truth Revolt website.

Shapiro opened his lecture with a useful lesson from recent political history: that Republicans lost the 2012 presidential election not because of policy, but because Democrats were able to frame Mitt Romney as a “bad guy,” and Barack Obama as a “nice guy.”

It’s a common leftist “bully tactic,” Shapiro says, that you must outmaneuver in order to win the debate.

Here are Shapiro’s steps to winning an argument against a liberal.


Politics is war, Shapiro says, crediting his late friend Andrew Brietbart. So, if you’re going to get into a debate with a liberal, be ready to punch them hard – but also be willing to sustain a few punches yourself.

“You have to be willing to take the first punch,” Shapiro said.

Of course, that’s a rhetorical punch. You can land a hard one with the next step.


Discussing gun control with liberal CNN host Piers Morgan on live TV in January 2013, Shapiro scored a near knockout in the first few seconds of the debate by framing his opponent. He accused Morgan of standing on the graves of murdered children to further his anti-gun agenda.

The result? Shapiro appeared as the victor in the debate, and as a reasonable, levelheaded, and competent opponent. Turn your lefty opponent’s ludicrous tactics against them by framing them as the bad guy.


Just as important as step No. 2 is putting your opponent on the defensive by framing the debate in a way that they are unfamiliar with, Shapiro says.

If the debate is about global warming, do not debate on whether it is manmade. Rather, debate about what policies can solve it.

If you are debating gun rights, prepare yourself for the standard liberal argument, which is that we don’t need guns at all. Instead, ask them what we can do to curb gun violence, and violence as a whole.

“You have to frame the debate in ways they’re not familiar with,” Shapiro said. “Otherwise, it turns into a character argument. You’re a flat-Earther, you’re corrupt, you’re mean, you’re stupid – these are the lines of [liberal] attack.”


Every single leftist argument is full of inconsistencies. They claim they want marriage equality, but at the same time they want to force churches to endorse an irreligious practice; they want universal government-sponsored health care, but they do not support forcing people to become doctors, which would be necessarily to support such a massive program.

The positive thing is this irrational logic is easy to spot. Do not be afraid to point out these wacky contradictions.


Sure, liberals love to put conservatives on the defense by forcing them to answer questions, but do liberals have to answer?

Force them to answer questions. If they are pro-gay marriage, ask them which parent is less vital to a family: the mother or the father. Chances are, they’ll have to concede that a family is better with a mother and a father, not just one or the other. And, if they’re for the separation of church and state, ask them if they think government should be forced to perform same-sex marriages.


Liberals love George W. Bush. That is, they love to invoke his name to prove that Republicans and conservatives are incompetent. Ignore weak rhetorical tactics. Stay focused on the debate at hand, not left field references that leftists use to make you look weak.


It’s not your job to defend every conservative. Conservatives are human and often do any say things you might not always disagree with. Just because you voted for someone and largely agree with their views doesn’t mean you have to defend them.

If your liberal opponent wants to bring up something Reagan did or said 30 years ago, tell them to build a time machine. If you stand around defending every conservative ever, you’re going to waste a bunch of time and energy.


You are not an oracle, and you’re not Google. You don’t need to know everything.

If a liberal challenges you on a topic you’re unfamiliar with, politely decline to talk about it. You’re allowed.

“If you don’t know something, don’t discuss the topic,” Shapiro said. “Say, ‘I haven’t researched it sufficiently.’ If they insist, tell them that they’re being unfair.

“Ego will kill you in these kinds of debates.”


Do you stand for diversity? Of course, why not?

Are you in favor of immigration reform? You betcha.

Conceding certain points to a liberal will accomplish several things. First, it puts them off guard. When they ask you if you support immigration reform, they’re expecting you to say “no,” which would allow them to accuse you of being a racist. The thing is the term “immigration reform” is essentially meaningless, which allows you to agree with it without conceding your position.

Second, it will make the liberal think you are more of a moderate, which has the effect of softening their rhetorical attack.


Above all, remember that leftists are not there to debate you; they are there to use you to prove that conservatism is a radical ideology that professes racist, sexist ideals. It isn’t true, of course, but you can’t win an argument with someone who hates you for your beliefs.

Instead, debate liberals on substance and policy, Shapiro says.

“The left has only one play,” Shapiro says. “The play is ‘you’re nasty.’”

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