THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO WINNING AN ARGUMENT WITH A LIBERAL.
"Antifa leftists may still burn this book, but more than a few center-left individuals will read 13 1/2 Reasons Why NOT to Be a Liberal and develop a new respectful understanding of conservatism.” — Dinesh D’Souza
“A must-read for those determined to defeat the unhinged left.” — Roger Stone
Although conservatives outnumber liberals in 44 out of 50 states, it’s a situation conservatives know very well in today’s contentious political environment: Conservatives often find themselves in discussions with liberals who relentlessly hammer conservatives with insults, accusations, and unfounded assumptions about conservatism.
The question is: WHAT IS A PROUD & INFORMED CONSERVATIVE TO DO?!?!
The answer is: 13 1/2 Reasons Why NOT to be a Liberal: And How To Enlighten Others, the conservative playbook to persuasive facts and arguments that detail the policies, accomplishments, and often-ignored compassionate nature of the conservative philosophy. Presented in an easy-to-access format, Judd Dunning’s ideological treatise will empower readers not only to hold their own in an argument with a liberal, but also to change hearts and minds, or at worst, preserve a few more mutually respectful relationships with more ease, clarity, and dignity.
Both a current and timeless conservative philosophical and argumentative manifesto made for conservative, right-leaning, independent, libertarian or “on the fence” Americans who are both passionate about politics and love being Americans.
If you can't achieve a win-win civil discussion with a liberal, at least you can use 13 1/2 Reasons Why NOT to be a Liberal to land some clear, intelligent blows. You will no longer serve as a liberal's doormat. You can maintain your pride and then move on to someone who really wants to both talk and listen. A "Freethinker"… probably a conservative!
Related collections and offers
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Eric Golub (Los Angeles, CA) is a nationally known comedian and author who has spoken in all 50 states. He has been a radio guest of Hannity, Dennis Miller, and Hugh Hewitt; he is known as one of the country’s preeminent politically conservative comedians. Golub has written five books under his The Tygrrrr Express brand. His four politically conservative comedy books are: Ideological Bigotry, Ideological Violence, Ideological Idiocy and Ideological Lunacy. His religious comedy book is Jewish Lunacy. Eric can be found over 300 days a year performing any place that will have him, whether tea party rallies, Republican women’s groups, churches and synagogues, Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs, or yes, even the White House itself.
The author lives & works in the Los Angeles metro area.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1 to 13 1/2 Reasons Why NOT to Be A Liberal: And How to Enlighten Others by Judd Dunning with Eric Golub
Big government fails at (almost) everything: The Republican Party small government pro-growth platform
Dennis Prager wisely stated, “The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.”(1)
With everything at your fingertips thanks to Amazon, Uber, Facebook and others, it is easy for Americans to get complacent. As the private sector creates new technologies that vastly improve our lives, the public sector has regressed. Big government expansion remains a dangerous problem to our American individual liberty and the health of our nation’s future. The government destroys wealth faster than the private sector can create it. This is unsustainable. Even worse, a large segment of our society has been conditioned to see an overarching government leviathan as a positive. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The more people come to rely on the state to take care of them, the more they begin to develop a sense of entitlement. Feeling entitled creates two other negative character traits: ingratitude and resentment. The more people expect to be given, the less grateful they will be for what they receive. They become resentful when any entitlements are taken away.
Most people who go into government are good people with noble intentions and a commitment to public service. Yet as economist Milton Friedman brilliantly stated, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”(2) After all, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Intentions are emotional. Results and facts are rational. The facts are that far too many government programs result in unintended consequences that deliver crushing blows to the very people most in need of help.
Small government was the clear original vision of the people who founded the United States of America. It is the major reason America fought the Revolutionary War to escape the British. It has given more people more freedom and more opportunity to live a better life than any other country ever has.
Avoid the liberal straw man that creates a false dichotomy between big government and anarchy. Government is absolutely needed, but in limited form.
Liberal argument: Government economic intervention is best for our country to level the playing field and protect all Americans.
The facts: Most government programs fail. There have been countless catastrophic interventionist government mistakes that have destroyed lives and spread misery.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal failed to lift America out of the Great Depression. The Supreme Court struck down a significant chunk of his programs as unconstitutional. He then tried to retaliate by packing the court and was thwarted there as well. World War II ended the depression and created the jobs that FDR failed to create in his first nine years.
Later, President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared a war on poverty, and then poverty won out as well. His social programs of the 1960s destroyed lives, primarily minority lives. 72% illegitimacy rates among blacks have decimated black neighborhoods.(3) When House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress dragged President Bill Clinton kicking and screaming into a strong welfare reform law, welfare rolls plummeted. When President Barack Obama gutted the work requirements, welfare rolls and the number of people on food stamps ballooned. When President Donald Trump reinstituted the work requirements, welfare rolls dropped again.(4)
The 2008 housing crisis was largely created by prior government policies. Liberal politicians led by Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank and Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd played racial politics with the banks. The banks under threat of closure were bullied into giving mortgages to poor minorities who could not afford them. When large numbers of those borrowers stopped making their payments, the market crashed. The nation got hurt by unnecessary government meddling. Blacks were hurt the most.(5)
Unlike FDR, Obama only failed to create jobs for eight years. His initial stimulus package failed. Attending a business panel, he joked, “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.”(6)
Obama’s attempt at a government takeover of the American healthcare system was a spectacular failure. The Affordable Care Act was a giant ideological redistribution scheme. Premiums were raised on people more likely to vote Republican so his base of poor Democrats could have free healthcare. Cynical politics led to an even worse policy. Millions of people had their policies canceled and their premiums skyrocket. Those hurt by the law dwarfed the comparably few people who benefitted. “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”(7) Those words by Obama became Politifact’s 2013 “Lie of the Year.”(8)
Obama tried to create a green energy revolution through brute government coercion. He forced Americans to buy new-fangled light bulbs because the standard light bulbs Americans had been using for over 200 years were no longer good enough. His light bulbs were worse. Yet the light bulb in his head never turned on. He tried to bribe Americans into buying solar panels. The people rejected them. He wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on Solyndra (9) and other failures. With no budget constraints, he piled up more debt than the first 43 presidents combined out of a desperate zeal for “fundamentally transforming”(10) a nation that got plenty right before he was born.
Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. President George W. Bush got some pretty big things right, but even he was pushed into playing favorites on Wall Street. Throughout his presidency, Bush had refused to bail out failing companies. Democrats tried to tie him to Enron (not surprisingly a green energy and climate alarmism company), but when Enron begged for a bailout, he told them no. Six months before the financial crisis, he refused to bail out Bear Stearns. Then came the reckoning on Wall Street. In September of 2008, Lehman Brothers burned. Bush let them. Then Goldman Sachs was teetering. Bush was persuaded under extreme pressure to abandon his free market principles.
Goldman was deemed too big to fail. Could it be that Goldman had powerful government friends and Lehman did not? Former Goldman CEO Robert Rubin was Clinton’s treasury secretary. Former Goldman CEO Hank Paulson held the same position under George W. Bush. Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made a compelling argument. Credit had seized up. Without government liquidity in the form of bailouts, the global financial system could break down. The argument is powerful, but still begs an important question. Why save Goldman but not Lehman? Where was the ethics in that? That was crony capitalism at its worst. It opened the floodgates for the Obama administration to follow Bush and spend into the stratosphere under the attitude of “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”(11)
In America, people have the freedom to fail. Businesses also have that freedom. Every generation sees a few entrepreneurs create the next big thing that everybody must have. Turning from rags to riches is far more common than elites would have the rest of us believe. Michael Lindell was a drug addict whose addiction cost him his marriage and his savings. Today he is a multi-millionaire.(12) The My Pillow CEO built a better mousetrap. It seems silly that something as simple as a pillow needed to be redone, but Lindell did it. People loved his pillows, told their friends, and gave him millions of dollars in sales.
This is America. We have bankruptcy laws that protect debtors from going to jail or worse. Entrepreneurs who fail in business move in with their family or friends and start again. Big business owners have friends and families with couches to sleep on as well. That is how it should be.
Creative destruction works. Trying to prevent it inevitably leads to stagnation (little or no economic growth). Japan and most of Europe have battled stagnation for decades.
When businesses fail, they do so with their own money (unless they are crony capitalists relying on government subsidies and bailouts). When government programs fail, they are wasting taxpayer dollars. In business, CEOs who fail frequently get fired. In government, it is often difficult to fire people. When there is no reward for success or punishment for failure, the result is usually indifference followed by more failure.
There are not enough pages to discuss the thousands of government programs that fail in every big-government presidency. A better challenge is to flip the question on its head. Ask every liberal to name one significant big-government program that has ever succeeded. They will cite Social Security and Medicare, but this is not true. These programs are constantly flirting with insolvency and eating up the largest portion of our federal budget. At their current pace, they may not exist in 30 years.
Name one big-government social program government has ever gotten right. Take your time.
Liberal argument: We must raise taxes and make the rich pay their fair share to best take care of the middle class and poor.
The facts: “The power to tax is the power to destroy.”(13) Of all the ways government can damage an economy, raising taxes is the easiest and most destructive. Liberals would happily raise taxes on everyone because their vision of government requires it. However, massive tax increases on everybody is not politically feasible. Liberals insist that they are only raising taxes on the rich. They never specify what qualifies a person or family as rich. Most people do not see themselves as rich. They are fine sticking it to the wealthy until they figure out that the government is talking about them.
Slogans are useless. What matters is evidence in the form of results. The two conflicting schools of economic thought are between demand-side Keynesian economics and supply-side economics. Keynesians support active government intervention including tax hikes to stimulate economic growth. Supply-siders support tax cuts to stimulate economic growth. The results are crystal clear.
In his significantly effective book The New Conservative Paradigm, supply-sider Tom Del Beccaro provides a simple recap of tax policy attempts and their results. Supply-side tax cuts were enacted by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1961. He considered them essential to stimulating economic growth. Republican President Richard Nixon was against them, dismissing them as a gimmick. President Ronald Reagan enacted supply-side tax cuts again in 1981 with a significant push from Delaware Senator William Roth and Buffalo Congressman Jack Kemp. President George W. Bush enacted supply-side tax cuts in 2001, 2002 and 2003.(14)
Under the tutelage of economists Arthur Laffer, Larry Kudlow and Steve Moore, Trump became America’s newest supply-side president. His December 2017 tax cuts ended a decade of stagnation. 2019 growth was up by a respectable 3% from the fourth quarter of 2017.(15) During the more Keynesian President Obama’s 31 quarters — from the start of the expansion in the third quarter of 2009 through the first quarter of 2017 — growth was just 2.2%. History has shown that supply-side benefits take time and often show up predominantly in a supply-side president’s second term. The 2019 trend already appeared to align with prior proven historical patterns.(16)
In 2020 the American economy cratered, but this was due to a global pandemic. The COVID-19 Corona virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China and killed over two million people worldwide, including over 100,000 Americans. Medical experts convinced Trump to shut down much of the entire American economy to slow the spread of this new disease. The resulting severe economic contraction of 2020 was directly caused by economic closure. There was zero correlation between the Trump tax cuts and the unprecedented 2020 Corona crash. The strong correlation came between the tax cuts and the pre-pandemic 2019 economic boom.
Four presidents tried this supply-side approach, one Democrat and three Republicans. All four times the result was exactly as intended. Supply-side tax cuts spurred spectacular economic growth and unleashed prosperity.
In contrast, demand-side tax hikes were tried five times. In the 1930s, FDR attempted the Keynesian approach to combat the Great Depression. In the 1970s, President Jimmy Carter attempted it to combat malaise. In the 1990s, Presidents George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton both raised marginal rates. Four attempts under four different presidents, three Democrats and one Republican, produced the same result: failure. FDR worsened the Depression, Carter worsened the stagflation, and Bush worsened the recession. Clinton got lucky. He inherited an economy that was growing at nearly 5% in the fourth quarter of 1992.(17) His tax hikes slowed growth, but he was bailed out by the stunning Internet revolution that began in 1995. Unparalleled wealth creation that most people had never seen before made up for the tax hikes.
Obama apparently never read Del Beccaro’s book, because the fifth president to try demand-side economics failed just like the first four. Growth was stagnant for Obama’s entire eight years, nearly tipping America back into recession. Obama made it easy for Trump, who just had to do the opposite of Obama. By reversing the Obama-Keynes policies, economic growth exploded under Trump.(18) Trump is no dummy, but it helps to have Laffer, Kudlow, Moore, Del Beccaro, and the Wall Street Journal editorial pages shouting on a daily basis that supply-side tax cuts work.
In addition to supply-side income tax cuts in marginal rates, another key rate is the capital gains rate on sales of stocks. Clinton and his successor Bush, one Democrat and one Republican, both cut capital gains taxes. Clinton lowered the rate from 28% to 20%. Bush lowered it further to 15%. In both cases, millions of dollars poured into the financial markets.(19) The rate should ideally be 0%, since the capital gains tax is inherently unethical as double taxation. Unfortunately, try making that case to a politically cowardly congress unable to articulate why good policy should supersede optics. Liberals deride trickle-down economics without having any idea how or why supply-side tax cuts work and have already worked repeatedly.
One more tax that needs be entirely repealed, even if only temporarily, is the tax on repatriated assets. Approximately two to four trillion dollars are being held overseas to avoid confiscatory U.S. taxes.(20) If that rate was lowered, overseas capital would flood the financial markets and probably double the U.S. stock market.
Ardent tax-cutting New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani summed it up best. “Money is fungible. When you tax rich people, they leave.”(21) Rich people have tax shelters and expensive tax attorneys and accountants. The rich can always find ways to legally evade confiscatory taxes and transfer the burdens onto those less fortunate. When business owners receive tax breaks, they do not stuff the money under their mattresses or in Swiss bank accounts. They invest it. When liberals push investment, they really mean spending. Far too often, this spending is wasteful and creates nothing. Business owners engage in real investment. They purchase machinery and raw materials. They hire more employees to handle increased customer needs. Lower business taxes benefit everyone in the business from the owner to the receptionist. While the owner may receive a much larger raise, the secretary has far less risk. The secretary can find a new secretarial job. For many business owners, their business is their life. If their business fails, they have nothing. Lower taxes and regulatory burdens allow businesses to thrive. Raising taxes and increasing regulations are the best way to crush businesses and wreck an economy (outside of mandating businesses close altogether, as was done during the 2020 pandemic).
Raising taxes harms growth. Cutting taxes helps growth. It really is that cut and dry.
Liberal argument: Our country was created to spread equality. Big government is the only way to do this.
The facts: Nature is nature. People are different. We as human beings in the modern age intrinsically know that we are fully equal in regard to our natural rights. Nevertheless, each of us is inherently different from one another in our potential, talents and merit. We cultivate these distinguishing traits in our society around us. Our Constitution states that “All men are created equal,”(22) but it does not anywhere say that the government’s job is to force equality. The people are entitled to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”(23) The key word is liberty. Equality and liberty are incompatible. The Constitution chose to emphasize liberty. Equality is a noble aspirational goal, but not at the expense of liberty. Those who prefer equality at all costs have to shred the Constitution to enforce such equality. That is liberalism in a nutshell. Control government, and use the levers of government to reward those who have less and punish those who have more. External factors such as work ethic and lifestyle choices are ignored. Communist nations emphasize equality over liberty and use brute force to carry out their goal of equality. These nations have failed everywhere this approach has been tried with great cost and far too much human suffering.
Liberal argument: Europe has democratic socialism, and as a result is more caring. Big government in Europe provides the social safety net.
The facts: For some bizarre reason, many liberals worship Europe. They particularly idolize France. France is perfection, and perfection is France. Maybe they find sophistication in awful accents and a common bond in contempt for everyday Americans.
Enough speculation. The evidence is clear. While Europe may not be completely finished, it is in very deep trouble. The American economy is much larger than the entire European Union combined. Several European nations have gone bankrupt. Even in holy sacred France, unemployment has been mired in double digits for decades.(24) Bureaucratic rules make it almost impossible to fire workers. This in turn makes it impossible to hire them. Stagnation is the norm. Despite shared stagnation, there is rampant political instability. Governments are frequently toppled. Britain voted for Brexit(25) because the people realized Brussels was taking away their democracy. British voters concluded that they could do better on their own rather than be a part of failing Europe. Europe has no military, relying on the United States to defend it. France in particular has proven totally incapable and helpless to prevent its people from rampant crime and radical Islamic terrorism. Some Islamist parts of France are no-go zones where police fear to tread. The social safety net has not completely collapsed, but it is far from the romanticized dream of young college backpackers. I know. I was one. After one year in failed Old Europe, I returned home and found real paradise in the form of the American dream.
Liberal argument: Rent control, wage control, affirmative action, national healthcare, progressive taxation and large unions are necessary. The Environmental Protection Agency and a myriad of other agencies, policies and governmental intervention are also vital. Otherwise, the rich would run over the country, the environment and the middle class and poor.
The facts: Combining a ton of nonsense into one argument sometimes saves time by allowing the debunking of everything all at once.
Nixon experimented briefly with wage and price controls. The result was a complete economic failure and he quickly reversed course.(26)
Nixon created the EPA as well. The environment was being legislatively protected before the EPA existed. Try pointing to one significant positive EPA accomplishment that required the EPA’s existence. If something truly is important enough, the legislature will act. That is what they are supposed to do.
Other nations have national healthcare. Their care is vastly inferior in quality to American healthcare. Europe has rationing. Old people barely rank higher than dogs, since the government can declare them too old to have expensive life-saving procedures. Waiting lines are long. It can take months to get approval for a procedure that would take mere days in the United States.
Plenty of people work in industries without a union presence. These people can be fired at any moment, but they can also voluntarily quit for a better job at their own convenience. For conservatives, unions can also be a political nightmare. Liberals love unions because unions collect involuntary dues and then spend that money on liberal political activities. Unions then spend more dues money on expensive marketing campaigns denying their political expenditures.
Union membership plummets when membership is voluntary. There was a time when unions were vitally necessary to prevent business abuses. Now there are labor laws in place. Despite the best union scare tactics, children are not being sent back to work in the coal mines and sweatshops. The most extreme Gilded Age labor abuses are in our past. Free markets and solely voluntary unionization remain most ideal in the present day. Conservatives fully respect the right of workers to voluntarily unionize, but great problems continue to arise with compulsory union membership. Mandatory union membership is still required by law in most states. As a result, large amounts of union dues are often spent on one-sided political agenda projects that run counter to the free individual political views of many mandated unions members and remain subject to abuses of power and graft.
Rent control makes it far more difficult for landlords to make upgrades to their units. The free market allows renters and seekers to find each other. Potential tenants and landlords both end up with many more options. Nobody is entitled to live in any particular neighborhood, city or country. Americans are free to reject rent increases by voting with their feet and moving to more affordable areas. Living on the Upper Westside of Manhattan or the beach in Santa Monica is not a constitutional right.
Forget progressive taxation. Until the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1913, the United States had no federal income tax.(27) America also had zero debt. Although taxes are now an inherent part of our functional modern government (especially military defense of the nation and our borders), overall higher progressive taxation and penalizing our wealthier job creators has not strengthened America.
Affirmative action was supposed to help those who have been marginalized in society. Unfortunately, it frequently fails to get to the recipients who need it most.(28) Affirmative action should be based on income, not race. Surely most reasonable people would agree that poor whites have a greater need for financial help than wealthy blacks.
Affirmative action is one of the few government programs that can claim some success. At least it has not been a complete failure. However, the unintended consequences are now rapidly outweighing the benefits. The stigma of being perceived as a token hire can last a lifetime. More importantly, careers that rely on merit tend to provide real diversity. Professional sports owners focus on trying to hire the best players. Sales jobs boil down to which people are the best salespeople. The United States Armed Forces want people who can kill bad guys and protect America. These professions are as race-neutral as any, and they function quite well. Industries with quota hires (Despite the denials, the next step is inevitably token quota hires) such as public education and government are messes.
The notion that rich people are the problem is just nuts. There are always rich people who inherit money and sit around leading lazy lives. Most people have no idea what the many living members of the Kennedy family actually do. Inherited wealth often leads to an unfulfilling unproductive life. However, most people become rich the old Smith Barney way. To quote the late John Houseman, “They earn it.”(29)
Rich people provide jobs to other people. These new hires are not envious. They are grateful to be employed and willing to work hard in the hopes of one day becoming rich themselves. The government did not hire them. Private individuals did. In this country, busboys can own restaurants. Paperboys can own newsstands. Construction workers can start their own construction company. The main thing that could mess this up is government getting in the way. When government forces companies with 50 employees working 30 hours per week to provide free healthcare, employers cut back to 49 employees working 29 hours per week.(30)
The best example of trying to soak the rich came in 1990. Congressional Democrats convinced Bush Senior to violate his “Read my lips: no new taxes” pledge.(31) Not only did he raise income tax rates, but he also enacted a luxury tax on yachts and expensive watches. The unintended consequences were catastrophic. The rich tightened their belts and delayed buying yachts and watches. The yacht builders and watchmakers saw their industries get devastated. Many of them went out of business. In 1993, the same Bill Clinton who would raise income tax rates quietly repealed the luxury tax.(32)
Liberals blame the rich. Conservatives want to become rich. Ask yourself which approach leads to a happier, better life.
Liberals want more government. Conservatives want less government. The evidence is overwhelming that with government, bigger is not better.
What should government do? Government should provide for the national defense through a strong military (under control of a civilian president) and ensure that Social Security checks and other similar administrative functions are handled. Everything else can be privatized, from the post office to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Unless the federal government is specifically empowered to do something, it is prohibited from doing it. Government needs to be returned to its constitutional role, which the Founding Fathers deliberately and severely restricted.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents to 13 1/2 Reasons Why NOT to Be A Liberal: And How to Enlighten Others by Judd Dunning with Eric Golub
The Belly of the Beast
CHAPTER 1 Big Government Fails at (Almost) Everything...................3
The Republican Party Small Government Pro-Growth Platform
CHAPTER 2 Life Is Not Fair and People Are Inherently Unequal................19
Free-Market Capitalism and Individual Liberty
CHAPTER 3 Big Green Elephant..................39
Climate Change, Responsible Progress, and Real versus Junk Science
CULTURE AND SOCIAL ISSUES
CHAPTER 4 You Are Not a Bigot..................63
Colorblind Conservatism and the Myth of the GOP as Racist
CHAPTER 5 Justice Does Not Need an Adjective..................73
Constitutionalism, Social Justice, and Special Rights
CHAPTER 6 Life Is Not a Safe Space...............85
Free Speech versus Leftist Political Correctness
CHAPTER 7 American Exceptionalism Is Not a Hate Crime........................95
Patriotism, Excellence, and Gratitude
CHAPTER 8 Jews and Christians Don’t Blow Up Airlines....................105
Judeo-Christian Values Are American Values
SAFETY AND SECURITY
CHAPTER 9 Freedom Is Not Free, Might Does Make Right, and Reluctant Interventionism Is Just............................121
Strong Military and Foreign Policy
CHAPTER 10 Guns for (Almost) Everyone...........139
Criminals by Definition Do Not Obey LawsCHAPTER 11 Every Nation Secures Its Borders.......155
CHAPTER 12 Violent Anarchic Mobs Are Bad........175
The Decline of Law, Order, and Civility
CHAPTER 13 Facts Trump Feelings and Deeds Trump Words.................153
Results Trump Everything
A BONUS CHAPTER
CHAPTER 13½ Babies Are Beautiful and So Are Women’s Rights...............261
First Principles, Final Thoughts
The George Floyd Riots
The Belly of the Beast
The disturbing 11 p.m. phone call came from my good friend Larry during the second term of the Obama administration. Ironically, he called when I was watching an episode of the conflict- ridden political drama House of Cards.
He got right to the point. “Judd, I want to give you the dignity of calling before I delete you from my Facebook, my phone, and my entire life.”
I laughed. I thought he was joking. I’d known Larry for a good 10 years. We met through a circle of friends and shared the highs and lows of working in the entertainment industry. Larry had an unconventional show-business angle. He was a performer in a popular female impersonator showcase where he and his fellow players impersonated female actresses and celebrities. The shows were full of raucously funny song and dance numbers. I valued Larry’s friendship. Knowing him had helped me understand the difficulties of being a gay man, even in liberal Hollywood.
“Hey, Larry,” I said. “Great to hear from you. It’s been a while, buddy. I hope you’re well.”
He wasn’t doing well. He was near tears and so upset that he was whispering. He’d been reading my Facebook posts. He said, “I need to know if the horrible things you write challenging our President Obama and our country are really you—or is this just some type of act?” He’d read that I believed in free markets, a strong military, gun rights, preservation of traditional family values, and religious freedom. He also knew that I opposed Obamacare and wanted more research on climate change.
I took a breath and tried to meet him on common ground. I acknowledged how inherently positive it was that Obama was the first black president, and how his election could potentially help heal the racial divide that had been ever present in our American history. However, I didn’t ask Larry any questions about his own beliefs. Instead, I went on to tell him how I struggle with certain liberal policies and why I believed the way I do on the topics at hand. I did so awkwardly, offering a lot of broader opinions with few facts. To his credit, he listened.
Then he hung up. I haven’t heard from him since.
The call was just the beginning of a seismic shift and an oncoming wave. I began hearing snide comments about me from liberals at parties. Others I knew stopped returning my calls. Other Facebook friends dropped me. Even then I wasn’t aware that this was just the tide sucking back from shore. The rejection tsunami would soon come with the election of Donald Trump.
What followed threatened to be emotionally traumatic. I don’t reject liberals for being progressives. All are welcome in my circle. It seemed outrageous that I could lose more than 2,000 people off of my Facebook page simply because I expressed my political views. People started calling me an idiot and a bigot. On some existential level I was faced with a sense of abandonment, that I was fatally flawed on some conscious or unconscious level. I could have believed this had I not heard similar stories from other conservatives, libertarians, and even moderate Republicans who were experiencing the same rejection.
I concluded that the rejection wasn’t personal. It was universal.
It got me thinking about my own and my family’s political journey. I come from some very old school Americans. The Dunnings landed in 1770 fleeing British oppression and moved to Tennessee and Virginia, fought the British in the American Revolution, and fought on both sides of the Civil War. The other side of my family was made up of the Whitners and Kresges. The Whitners arrived in South Carolina in 1764 after fighting on the American side of the Spanish-American War. After the war, part of the family moved to Cuba in 1898 as cattle ranchers. When Fidel Castro overthrew Fulgencio Batista and seized my family’s ranch, they fled communism and came back to America. The Kresges arrived in 1906 via Ellis Island from the Polish-Ukraine border. They escaped the violent pogroms to seek a new way of life in Massachusetts and later New York. Although I came from a historically Republican household, my parents rarely discussed politics. As I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, politics still had considerable ongoing conflicts. Yet life seemed much more private than today. One’s personal politics were not yet used as a key litmus test of who to have in your life, work, or social circle.
Full of youthful idealistic sentiments and low on facts, by default, I became a big-hearted superliberal (back then, I was just called a Democrat). The Ivory Tower only fueled the fire. Not one of my Colorado State University professors spoke positively of our country. I earned my bachelor’s degree in social science and economics, declared myself prelaw, and took the LSAT. My plan was to work for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to fight injustice and racism.
Right before law school and increasingly disgusted with our country, I opted not to stay in school. I was full of anger fueled by socialist ideals and utopianism. Ironically, those same years saw President Ronald Reagan empower our country. Reagan had engineered a new era of greater national security and booming prosperity, but I wanted none of it.
After school, I sold all the capitalistic material goods I owned, including a new car my father had given me for completing college. I decided to move to the more caring, socialized Europe, vowing never to return. One rainy, low-wage, bus-riding, depressive year later—and after three weeks in a British hospital experiencing socialized medicine firsthand—I quickly discovered that the land of milk and honey didn’t exist in Europe. I humbly returned home.
I was still a liberal. Al Gore, Michael Moore, Hollywood, academia, National Public Radio, the liberal media, Planned Parenthood, democratic socialism, Gore Vidal, Oliver Stone, Howard Zinn, Spike Lee, and the Clintons happily consumed my next 20 years. I marched on ready as ever to convert everyone to my passions. My moral outrage dictated my vote. My highly charged emotional yet well-meaning liberal heart ruled all my reasoning.
It was the perfect mind-set for where I eventually landed—liberal ground zero. I started in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater. I built a successful local acting career. I later relocated to Hollywood to raise the stakes and go for the greater gold. I performed in everything from The Young and the Restless to Poetic Justice and numerous commercials and independent films.
It was a great journey, but Los Angeles is an expensive city. I wanted a family. Economic reality required that I support my show-business efforts with other income. Always athletic, I became a successful personal trainer with several employees. I was also on the lookout for other entrepreneurial pursuits.
The struggle to survive in Los Angeles, with its gauntlet of taxes, licenses, and regulations, soon began to nudge me into a different political mind-set. Life was harder here. The liberal rhetoric of California politicians and their concern for the working man was as thick as the fog that came off the Pacific. However, I found that their policies had not advanced my success. They hindered it through $73 parking tickets, ever-increasing sales taxes, and larger taxes as a small corporation—even when it lost money.
By the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I was challenging all my old liberal beliefs. I slowly transformed into a seasoned conservative man. I’m not some red-bellied repressive traditionalist who clings to the past. I’m a 20-year ex-liberal turned conscious conservative who struggled deeply to emerge from left-wing Hollywood, the belly of the beast, to challenge all my opinions.
I still do this, even today.
Along the way, I also transitioned to a more lucrative profession to further support my family. Years of auditions, countless stand-up gigs, and pitching film projects taught me the art of sales. This helped me launch a very successful career in institutional commercial real estate. However, I never gave up on my creative pursuits. Near the end of the Obama administration, I hatched the idea to marry humor, entertainment value, and my political passions. I created a TV project and webcast that sought to add a refreshingly light touch to the rancor that dominates American political discourse today. Conservatively Unplugged featured me as a self-effacing Republican, a humor-based conservative host in a format similar to The Daily Show. I have hosted numerous leading political commentators, including Ben Shapiro, Ann Coulter, and James Carville. Comedic guests ranged from Fox regular Michael Loftus to Paul Rodriguez, Adam Yenzer, and even Dancing With the Stars dancer Sharna Burgess. We’ve been showcased for three years at Politicon. We have a steadily growing audience on YouTube and other streaming venues. A year ago, writer and comedian Michael Loftus and I also launched a new weekly streaming and YouTube show called BulletPoints! With Michael Loftus and Judd Dunning.
BulletPoints! became the impetus of the idea that generated this book. After experiencing all those angry rejections from contentious liberals in my personal life, I didn’t want to become just another one of those angry pundits railing about the left. On the new show, I wanted to fearlessly present myself as a conservative yet also reduce the number of people I lost because of my political views. I’d already decided that the future of the country was more important than hiding my beliefs so as not to lose friends. There had to be a way to completely come out politically while accommodating them and their views. Perhaps that would create opportunities to promote understanding of conservatism. Perhaps it could even change some hearts and minds. More important, I needed to serve my fellow conservative travelers. How could I design an easily accessible format that could help others on the right experiencing the wave of rejection and disdain?
The answer came from the front lines of my own commercial real estate sales experience. In a sales negotiation, there’s something called the takeaway. This is when a party at the table makes a demand and threatens to kill the deal and walk away if it’s not met. It’s the most negative and aggressive of all sales techniques. The opposite of the takeaway is the win-win solution. The win-win seeks to understand the other party’s needs and meet them without damaging your own position. The win-win, whenever possible, is the most effective way to open any negotiation.
I came to realize that an interaction with a liberal—whether face-to-face or on social media—is essentially a negotiation. The liberal wants something from you: the rejection of your political beliefs and the support of theirs. You want something from them: understanding, some basic respect, and ideally, their support of the policies you endorse.
In my experience, angrier liberals often open with the takeaway. You state that you’re on the right or that you support a conservative policy, and the equivalent of the takeaway is unleashed. You’re labeled a compassionless bigot supporting a misogynist orange Oval Office clown. All discussion is over. We on the right sometimes resort to the takeaway as well. We approach our opponents with a hard line. When offended by their inaccurate accusations, we react and walk.
The obvious solution to these situations is to employ the winwin approach. This requires an even-keeled rational temperament and the ability to understand the other party’s position. This also requires having done some research on any position they might take. During the negotiation itself, it requires asking a lot of questions. Being inquisitive is a proven way to lower the temperature and disarm the other party. It cultivates goodwill and shows respect and, dare I say, some basic humanity.
Once that is accomplished—and perhaps most important—the win-win approach requires the ability to effectively answer the questions or assertions that come from the other party. You can’t give away what you don’t have. What is the factual basis of your beliefs? What critical thinking supports them? Do you simply parrot the talking points you’ve heard from the talking heads on the liberal- loathed Fox News? Do you resort to generalizations or even the same kind of shaming or name-calling prevalent on the left? No, of course not. Yet you also might not have the core conservative arguments clear enough in your head to defend and explain your beliefs after being attacked from your first opening lines.
To meet that need, I’m offering 13½ Reasons Why Not to Be a Liberal. Ideally, my timeless ideological treatise is also a practical and easily accessible political handbook for today’s times. You will find that my tone ranges from philosophical, intellectual, and historical analysis to bare-knuckled and humorous commonsense responses. Given the minefield that is politics today, this range is how political discourse must be conducted.
This book has been compiled into an indexed, easily understandable guide that covers the most important issues under discussion in the age of progressivism versus conservatism. Its segregated sections cover the hot-button categories of economics, cultural and social issues, safety and security, the presidency of Donald J. Trump, and a bonus section on abortion. Within those categories are the liberal arguments you have heard or will hear anytime you are confronted in a potentially divisive discussion. They are followed by the reasoned, factual responses that you can employ toward the goal of a win-win.
If you can’t achieve a win-win civil discussion, at least you can use this book to land some clear, intelligent blows. You will no longer serve as a liberal’s doormat. You will not be consumed by the belly of the beast. You can maintain your dignity and then move on to someone who really wants to both talk and listen.
My hope in offering this guide is to help us all preserve relationships with our fellow citizens. We have to preserve the country I’ve loved in my five decades as an American citizen. I’m concerned that we have embarked on a cold civil war where rash decisions could permanently harm our country. Despite the rabid resistance we face, we all must foster civil discussions with our fellow Americans. The country and even our humanity are at stake.
I wish that I could have made that point to my old friend Larry. I wish that I knew then what I know now. Maybe I would have gotten the chance.