How to Really Win a Debate

Now that we have a couple of big debates in the books for this election season, it’s obvious to me that the candidates need some serious help.  They’re going about this debate thing all wrong, spending too much time talking about issues and numbers.  Total snooze fest.  Fortunately for them, I’m a master of the art of argument and am willing to share my skills with either party who will listen.

The key to dominating a debate all comes down to psyching out your opponent.  Here are ten proven tips that are guaranteed to blow your adversary’s mind the next time you find yourself in major political race:

  1. Dress like Abraham Lincoln.  Seriously, who in their right mind would want to debate Lincoln?  This move will totally unnerve your opponent.
  2. Don’t just stride out onto the stage like every other boring politician.  Make a big entrance by crashing through one of those paper banners they use at the beginning of football games.  If possible, incorporate fireworks, confetti cannons and a hard rock anthem.
  3. Start off strong by giving the moderator a fruit basket or bouquet of flowers.  This is particularly effective with Jim Lehrer.  He’s a sucker for a good fruit basket.
  4. Wear an “I’m with Stupid” t- shirt.  Just make sure the arrow is pointing in the right direction or you’ll look like you’re insulting a stage hand.
  5. Frequently employ the classic “That’s what you are, but what am I?” comeback.  It’s sure to deflect any attack.
  6. Plant people in the audience to quietly hum the song “Hail to the Chief” every time you speak.
  7. When your opponent speaks, have the same people hum “Achy, Breaky Heart.”
  8. Pull out Trivial Pursuit cards and start quizzing opponent on random facts.  Everyone looks dumb playing this game.
  9. Punctuate every point you make by yelling either “Boo-yah!” or “In yo face!”
  10. Periodically bang your podium or table with a gavel and spout legal jargon such as “I object,” “You’re out of order,” and “You want the truth?  You can’t handle the truth!”

You can see what a big help this would be to either candidate.  Some people are natural debaters. Others of us – not so much.  When we find ourselves in arguments, we can use all the help we can get.

Have you ever had a run-in with one of those people who are born to argue?  They can talk you under the table and make everything you say sound like mush.  Others of us aren’t so eloquent, but because of our stubbornness, we won’t give up an argument even when our logic is crashing down around our ears.

Whether you’re good at arguing or not, all of us love to be right.  We measure every informal debate we find ourselves in by asking the question, “Who won?”  You see it during election years like this.  You see it marriages.  You see it in the church.

Being right trumps being loving.

I guess that’s fine if you’re running for office, but not such a good thing in our day-to-day lives.  It’s great to have convictions and opinions, but probably a better thing to have compassion.  I know for me, the need to be right (and prove that everyone who disagrees with is wrong) has poisoned my relationships more times than I’d care to admit.

Jesus was constantly frustrated with those who valued winning arguments over loving people.  In Jesus’ day He constantly butted heads with a group known as the Pharisees, the religious elite who loved being right.

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