This Salon article describes what I have said in the past — that it IS (almost) impossible to argue with the right wing. I believe most Trumpers have antisocial or narcissistic personalities and this shows up in how they converse with those who disagree with them.
I label these personalities Other-blamers because they shift accountability to others because of their poor shame tolerance. And as I wrote in “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” this is also exactly the same pattern of abusive/coercive relationships, in which the abuser uses gaslighting and other manipulative conversation tactics to gain dominance and sow confusion, leaving the victim disempowered.
The conversation style of abusers is exactly as the Salon article describes is the argumentative style of the right wing. Abusers in interpersonal relationships will also make a statement that may have little or no factual basis, such as, “You’re cheating on me.” They start the attack by framing you as at fault, thus gaining a rhetorical advantage. This is now the starting point for the argument, even if it is completely false. The victim is now “on the back foot” and parrying the punches of the aggressor.
When I work with victims of this type of gaslighting, I advise that they refuse to accept this framing, although that is very difficult to do. We are naturally inclined to defend false accusations and protect our reputation. However, this just plays into the Other-blamer’s hand — who now just continues to repeat the false claims over and over, louder and louder, until the victim gives up.
My second husband, who was physically and emotionally abusive, would accuse me of bizarre things, usually that I was cheating on him, despite my loyalty. He once accused me of having an affair with the flamboyantly out gay man in my office — who was 20 years younger than I was. This delusion was so ludicrous I should have walked away laughing hysterically. Instead, as many rational humans do, I expected that my fact-based arguments (gay!) would carry some weight. They didn’t because narcissists can never be wrong — their egos won’t allow it.
Other-blamers constantly accuse, shifting the blame repetitively and compulsively to others— facts be damned!
Eventually the victim of the abuse gives up — there is no sense arguing with such illogical, irrational positions. As the article says: “There is no real debate and certainly no dialogue, because the entire game is to offer up a distorted version of a position, then freak out about it.”
As I have explained about how to argue with narcissists and Trumpers, you can choose to “grey rock” them and walk away without arguing. Or if you do argue, point out the PROCESS of how they argue. Say things like: “I noticed you did not listen at all to what I just said.” Or: “I noticed that you just constantly blame and accuse me.” Or: “I noticed that you label me based on no factual basis whatsoever.” Be prepared for an aggressive reaction to your challenges, but this is better than getting down into the mud and trying to argue about the CONTENT of the discussion, which is almost always non-factual.
The core of narcissistic and abusive personalities is non-reciprocal behavior in relationships. Simply, they do not fight fair. Yet most people — who are NOT antisocial — go into arguments and relationships expecting their partners will fight fair. We must all, especially journalists, be constantly mindful that the right wing and GOP cultists will never fight fair in discussions about facts, policies or any other topic. To continue to expect them to do so puts us into a weak, victimized position shadow boxing about false accusations.