This is why you can't argue politics with a conservative, it's like arguing religion with an evangelical. You're almost always going to get one of two reactions - either they're going to be the "I can sway you with my faith-based arguments" guy, who claims things that have never been proven and, in fact, there is significant evidence to the contrary of in history, or they're going to be the "I can't even keep talking to you if you're going to question my faith" guy who simply plugs his ears, gets up and walks away rather than risk having his beliefs challenged.
Trying to talk about taxes with a conservative is like trying to talk about homosexuality with a devout Christian. They will point to all kinds of ideological "evidence" that shows how it's wrong, but the actual real life facts don't bear them out. A Christian will say "homosexuality destroys families", so point out the hundreds of short and long-term psychological studies on homosexual parents and their children that show exactly the opposite and what's the response? "Well, the bible says it's a sin, so it's wrong." Door shut and locked, further argument is pointless. Likewise, a conservative will say "higher taxes kills jobs and the economy", so you point out how, throughout history, the periods of the most job growth and business investment have all been at the times when the marginal tax rate was significantly higher than it is now. What's the response? "Well, higher taxes are still wrong!" Door shut and locked, further argument is pointless.
That, in a nutshell, is the problem with arguing with conservatives. They don't care about facts, they have feelings. They don't care about data, they have slogans. They don't care about numbers, they make them up all the time!
A liberal says "We need to develop a sensible and sustainable plan to create renewable and alternative fuels so we can become energy independent without damaging our environment or depleting our finite natural resources."
A conservative says: "DRILL, BABY, DRILL!"
A liberal says: "We need to reform our tax code so that it's a fair system that is harder to exploit, closes loopholes and rewards investment."
A conservative says: "Taxes kill jobs!"
See, you don't need logic when you have a slogan. You don't need to think when you have a slogan. You just need to memorize and chant.
That's one of the biggest reasons why conservative ideas are so popular, even though they are so terrible and destructive to the average American. Because people like slogans. People like easy, repeatable soundbytes. Nobody with a passing interest in politics is going to remember a detailed explanation, backed with historical data, about why higher taxes almost always result in more job creation and business growth, but they'll remember "Taxes kill jobs!" Then they'll think "Yeah, I don't like paying taxes, I support this!" and next thing you know, some poor schlub making $30,000 a year just voted for policies that are going to let his company move it's operations to Mexico and cost him a job. Then, when he's sitting there unemployed and wondering why all the manufacturing jobs in his area have moved to Mexico, he's not going to realize "The policies that I supported, through my votes, are directly responsible for creating a rewards system for big businesses that outsource their means of production and keep their profits out of the country." he's going to say "Those damn Mexicans took our jobs!"
How do you argue with that?
Slogans and faith. It works for religion and it works for conservatism.
"Thou shalt not kill" Makes sense. Killing people is bad, don't do it. But, why? "Because it's a sin!" Yes, but why is it a sin? "Because the bible says so!" So if the bible didn't say "Thou shalt not kill" it would be ok to kill people? "No, because killing people is wrong." Yes, but why is it wrong? "Because God said thou shalt not kill!" Ok, forget it, let's move on...
So, killing people is wrong because the bible says so? "Yes." Then why do you support the death penalty? "Because the bible says an eye for an eye!" Wait, I thought the bible said killing was wrong? "It is, except when it isn't!" That doesn't make any sense... "Yes it does, it's in the bible." THAT doesn't make any sense! "You have to have faith." What does that even mean? "It means you have to believe that everything in the bible is right, even if it doesn't seem to make any sense or contradicts itself, because God is smarter than we are and he knows what we don't so it's not for us to question his word, only to follow it."
But the bible was written by men. "They were told what to write by God." According to who? "According to the men who wrote the bible." So, the guys who wrote the bible said that God told them what to write and that was all the proof that was needed? "Yes." So, I could write a bunch of stuff down right now and say that God told me to write it and you would believe it as if it came from God himself? "Of course not!" Why not? "Because God didn't tell you to write it." How do you know that? "Because God wouldn't tell you to write things for him." Why wouldn't he? "Because you're not a prophet of God." How do you know that? "Because you didn't write the bible." I'm going to go beat my head against a wall until I pass out now... "God bless you!"
Who needs facts, reason or logical answers when you have slogans and faith?
"Taxes kill jobs!" Ok, I'll bite, how do taxes kill jobs? "Because they discourage businesses from hiring new employees. They discourage investment that creates new businesses. They discourage the people who have money from using that money to put people to work!" But, back in the 50's, during our nation's largest period of job creation and business growth, the upper-class tax rate was 90%, the highest it's ever been in our nation's history. The only way to lower that tax rate was to create jobs, grow your business and invest, so in a very direct way, higher taxes created jobs... "That's socialism!" Are you saying Harry Truman was a socialist? "No, I'm saying that raising taxes is socialist redistribution of the wealth and it kills jobs!" But, historically, the highest periods of job growth in our country have all been during times when taxes were raised, including under Reagan, who raised taxes over 10 times while he was president. "Don't you blaspheme the name of Ronald Reagan! I will not listen to you take my lord's name in vain! If Reagan was here right now he would tell you to your face that cutting taxes, eliminating unions, building a border fence and slashing government spending is the only way to make our country great again!" Ronald Reagan raised taxes, he was pro-labor, he supported amnesty for immigrants and he grew government to the largest level in history while president. "Blasphemer!"
Can't argue with that, it's pointless.
You see, conservatism and religion both rely on using variables in their ideological formulas to explain those parts of their argument that don't make sense or contradict itself. For Christians, x = Jesus. For conservatives x = well... it depends. The value of x for conservatives always changes, based on the argument, but in every case it's a stock answer that explains all of the unexplainable facets of the conservative argument. And, when all else fails, conservatives can pull the religious right out and use the Jesus value for x, kind of like the joker card in the deck.
When you're talking about jobs and the economy with conservatives, x = lower taxes. When you're talking about military spending with conservatives, x = "9/11 changed everything", or, simply "9/11". When you're talking about social policy with conservatives, x = protecting the family. When you're talking about energy policy with conservatives, x = "Drill, baby, drill!" When you're talking about regulations, social programs, health care, government spending, equal rights or labor, x = socialism!
That's how every argument with a conservative is based. If you try to argue with conservatives about taxes, you get all the slogans about job killing and redistributing wealth and it's all predicated on the solution for x being "lower taxes". That will solve every economic, employment and market-based equation in the school of conservatism. If you try to argue with conservatives about our out of control military spending or the over-reach of the Patriot Act, you get all the slogans about terror, terrorism and terrorists and it's all predicated on "9/11". If you try to argue about marital equality, a woman's right to choose, legalization or decriminalization of vices and so on, you get all the slogans about morality and the decline of values in our society, but it's all based on "protecting the family". You get the idea...
The point is, you cannot argue with people who change the variable in the middle of the equation. Who choose to shape facts to fit their ideology, rather than shaping their ideology to fit the facts. It's just like arguing with an evangelical. Every answer is "Jesus" because "Jesus" is the ultimate wild card. He's worth whatever value the user assigns to him. For every question of why, the answer is "Because Jesus said or did it." With conservatives, whatever answer they have agreed will be the value for x in their argumentative equation, that's the answer and every question, every counter-point, every challenge will be spun back into fitting into the solution for x.
If the facts say that lowering taxes has no positive effect on job creation or economic growth, conservatives will just change the facts to fit their answer. They will cite imaginary data about the damaging effects of taxes on the economy. They will pull out "economists" who back up their phony argument with smart-sounding, long-winded explanations that use a lot of big words and convince people who don't understand economics that it must be right because it's so confusing.
It's like arguing evolution vs. creationism with an evangelical. They will always cite "scientists" who did research that supports creationism and it turns out those "scientists" are Christian theologians who's evidence is basically just a cleverly re-worded statement of Christian ideology with some fancy words and hypothetical "data" and a slew of unsubstantiated claims thrown in and since it sounds so complicated and official, it must be the truth and thus evolution is debunked!
You can't argue with that, it's pointless.
The sad thing about all of this is, the majority of Americans actually support most liberal ideology. Most Americans are for increasing taxes on the rich. Most Americans support marital equality and the right to choose. Most Americans are in favor of legalizing, taxing and regulating drugs, gambling and prostitution - though with varying degrees of tolerance, of course. Most Americans are pro-labor because most Americans are labor. Most Americans support immigration reform because all Americans who aren't native Americans are the children of immigrants. The bottom line is that, right now, liberal ideology is more popular with the average voter than conservative ideology, so why are the polls so evenly divided? Why do people espouse beliefs that they don't really hold when questioned about them? Why do people say things that they don't really mean?
It's because conservative slogans are simple, easy to remember and they make sense when you don't think about them.
"No poor man ever gave me a job!" That makes sense and sounds perfectly logical. That seems like a pretty good argument against taxing rich people, yeah? Well, guess what? No poor man ever laid me off, either. No poor man ever shipped my job overseas and gave himself a bonus and expatriated the profits so he wouldn't have to pay taxes on them. No poor man ever bundled up a bad home loan into an investment vehicle, made billions and wrecked the economy over it. No poor man ever won a modern election.
But, all of that doesn't fit on a bumper sticker. All of that is tough to fit onto a sign, no matter how badly you misspell it.
Facts are boring and confusing, but slogans are fun! You can't argue with slogans. The only way to beat a slogan is with a better slogan, a catchier chant, a louder, angrier mob of shouters. Slogans don't need logic, slogans don't need facts, slogans just need repetition. Slogans just need people with faith. People who will support something, no matter how flawed, contradictory, hypocritical or factually inaccurate it is, because they can just plug in their magical solution for x to fill all those holes in their arguments.
This is why you can't argue with conservatives, because by the time you dumb down your argument enough for them to understand it, it becomes a conservative idea. There's no clever spin on the truth, there's no catchy jingle for factually accurate information, there's no condensed version of extensive empirical data. Pages of supporting evidence don't fit on a T-Shirt. You can't dumb down smarts.