So, below are some guide lines I'd like to share when it comes engaging in political disagreements. In a number of ways they're similar to my Keys to Repeating the Truth post. Overall though, if you follow these guidelines, you will not only be more engaging to that liberal you're responding to, but it will overall portray correctly that conservatives do know what they want and aren't just a bunch of hate filled dung throwers.
The overall theme to remember is that you want the person you're responding to take you seriously to actually take what you're saying to heart. Yes, I'm aware there are trolls. Yes, I'm aware that there are some arrogant know it alls that won't listen no matter you seem to say. However, not only is no one ever going to respond positively to negative nastiness, those people will use that nastiness to strengthen their notion about conservatives being dumb and hate filled.
No Name Calling
This is a big one. In reading articles in places like Breitbart, Truth Revolt, and The Blaze, I'll comments where they call Obama things like Obozo and Obummer. Comments by liberals, trolls or otherwise, are met with your standard range of pejoratives like idiot, moron, libtard, etc. even when the liberal is actually trying to make a point in a somewhat civilized manner. This has got to stop.
Let me ask: Do you mind being called stupid? Or idiot? If someone were to call you an idiot, would you even be listening to anything else they had to say? Probably not.
Name calling shuts down any hopes of reaching that other person. It is disrespectful. On top of that, it reinforces the negative prejudices liberals have been projecting onto conservatives for years. Yes, that person may be saying some pretty unfounded, dumb stuff. But if you call them dumb, that's all they're going to hear and just get mad no matter how right your following argument may be. Yes, they be disrespectful to you first. But are you going to sink to their level by not respecting them or are you going to show that you're the better person by showing them that you at least respect them enough to not call them names?
Never start with "You're wrong"
Just like the name calling thing, you start with "you're wrong" and you've immediately lowered the other person's ability to listen and reason out your response because after hearing "you're wrong", they're too busy figuring out other ways to express their perspective to show you that it's right. It can also incense someone to anger and increase their reluctance in listening to your points.
Always counter with conservative principles
It's not enough to point out the flaws in a liberal's argument. We all know may know them quite well. But keep in mind that a classic liberal retort to conservative criticism is "well at least we're doing something about it! All you do is criticize!" If you don't present the conservative solution in your rebuttal, it's easy for a liberal to apply the obstructionist label: "You don't want to help anyone, all you do is keep us from helping!" Instead, if you point out their flaws and then supplement it with the conservative solution to the problem, it transforms your "obstructionist" stance to one of advocating a different policy.
Always make the moral argument
While numbers are important and they should be minded, they unfortunately are a hard sell because numbers alone are never going to trump someone's emotions. People will care more about doing the right thing than they will about how much money something costs. Consequently, by making only the money argument, you can be seen as "caring more about money and profits than about actual people", a common liberal trope against conservatives.
This can be a tough one to overcome because we're admittedly at an immediate disadvantage. The very basis of liberalism is that government "takes care and helps people", therefore their intentions, regardless of the disastrous results, already make a strong moral argument: we want to help people! So naturally, anyone opposing that is seen as evil and nasty. Therefore, when we oppose one of these "help people!" initiatives, we have to make sure to point out not only the morality of being fiscally conservative, but also the far greater good that can come from fiscal liberty.
In either case, it's not enough to point out the failures. It must be coupled with an argument that makes the conservative solution sound like the right thing to do.
Believe it or not, many liberals do not seem to know much beyond what they're told on TV by the mainstream media, even those that like to claim the intellectual high ground. If you're good at asking the right pointed questions, it's possible to lead them to the right conclusion. By steering them via questions, it will also open up more holes in their argument on which to counter (in civility, of course).
Know your stuff
The converse of the above. If you make an opinion about something, make sure you have at least some rudimentary facts to back up your assertions since you might be challenged. If you want to blame our sluggish economy on Obamacare, then you should understand what about Obamacare is hurting the economy. You don't have to be a policy wonk or watch/read politics non stop to stay up on stuff, but you should understand at least why you believe the things you do.
Lastly though, these guidelines are not only limited to conservatives despite them being my focus. Christians can also apply these in their lives and pretty much anyone else with any belief system can. However, when it comes conservatives and Christians, we're held to a higher standard by not only the left's own double standards, but our own principles'. So take to heart and remember that if you want to truly have someone understand, you need to be willing to do what it takes to keep the communication bridge open.