John Stuart Mill, in his 100 page essay On Liberty, offered this advice:
“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion… Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them. He must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.”John Stuart Mill
In other words, get inside the head of the major parties and the Greens. Understand their arguments, their frequent counter-arguments against our own points and subject yourself to their point of view in its most practised form.
Well, if you know our opponents inside out, you’ll be able to out debate and out reason them. You’ll strengthen your own ability to advocate our classical liberal cause.
“They don’t engage in reasoned debate”, you retort.
I understand. I hear you. If you watch a lot of YouTube, it can feel that way.
Yet, some of them do engage in reasoned debate and we should never give up on them. Many have converted. Think about those who’ve left the majors, even the Greens!
More to the point, the true audience for our reasoned debate is not our unmovable opponents. The audience for our reasoned debate is the thinking citizens who have never heard us in full flight before. They compare and contrast before making a decision.
By doing what John Stuart Mill recommends, we shine with the independent, middle and swing voter. And that’s how electoral success is achieved.
Know thy opponent.
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An entrepreneur who has employed 1,470+ people, Kenelm was admitted to the BRW Fast 100 three times with businesses in Australia, NZ, Singapore and New York, where he lived for 12 years. Kenelm’s investment firm performs mid-market leveraged roll-ups. He was a regular columnist for the Australian Financial Review. Kenelm is the Founder of Liberty Itch.