Trying to have conversations with people in the comments section of YouTube is only half as hard as engaging in one on twitter, since there's twice the character allowance, but it's just as distractedly constricting and chronically useless. But, like so many people, it's hard to let slide every single thing you disagree with and eventually I cracked, I took the bait, and I dove into several conversations where I pulled up research studies and calmly refrained from returning ad hominem attacks with the same.
In order to have a good conversation with the "other side," you have to express that you are not trying to prove that you are right, not even just trying to teach, but that you are hoping to exchange information. Conservatives really believe that liberals are simply brainwashed bottom feeders, only just barely worth "saving" from their addiction to a cancerous ideology of complete acquiescence to the state (in a last-ditch attempt to stop them from destroying America). So it's important to approach a conversation with an open mind, to ask them to help you understand their position.
What I've been learning has yet to surprise me. So far I consistently hear arguments, sometimes with sound logic, but that are factually or contextually lacking. The people I've engaged with have been unwilling to provide research, and usually fall back on basic the basic conservative principle of personal responsibility being paramount and social responsibility being non-existent.
Conservative argument on the prison industrial complex and crime: prisons deter crime because people don't want to go to prison. Research on ways for society to prevent crime or on decreasing recidivism don't matter, they are traps to coddle criminals and expand the well fare state. Despite research showing that education is a better crime preventative than prisons, the criminals have already thrown away every opportunity handed to them by the liberal establishment and don't deserve cable TV, ice-cream sandwiches, and extra chances; the best way to decrease recidivism is to simply lock them up forever - once the state convicts you, segregation from the "good" population is the only way to ensure the safety of society. I have no sympathy for criminals, they should not have more rights than their victims. The war on drugs helps us find and put away dangerous people, even before they become dangerous. The demand for guns in Mexico and the gang violence there and throughout Latin America is not because of the prohibition on drugs but because of a cultural predisposition to violence.
Conservative argument on the economy: The housing market was regulated by Clinton to force banks to give loans to people who could not ordinarily get them as part of the larger liberal affirmative action and reparations agenda. The Bush wars and the Bush tax cuts were actually good for the economy, but the housing market collapsed because of many people irresponsibly seeking loans and mortgages they could not afford and the banks were forced to give them under threat of being accused of racism. Despite news that shows that the terms of the loans were made deliberately confusing and dangerous, that banks were foreclosing on houses they didn't even own, that it was deregulation that allowed financial institutions to bundle terrible loans with good ones in order to give them a (knowingly misleading) high rating and sold as a AAA package, and a lack of oversight or transparency that allowed these companies to take insurance policies out on loans that they knew would fail. Despite the fact that the majority of people work for small businesses and that the economy is slow because the average person's purchasing power is weak, tax cuts for the richest and biggest businesses are what we need to save the economy because, despite record profits and the already low tax rates, if we lower taxes then they'll hire more people.
Conservative argument on health care: If you work hard and make money, then you deserve to be able to buy a nice car. If you don't work hard, why do you deserve to be able to have good health care? Sure, maybe with the old way taxpayers had to pay more to keep poor people alive because they were waiting until problems became emergencies so they could be admitted to emergency rooms, but the solution isn't to create a system that incentivizes preventative care - if you work hard and make money, you deserve to live, and if you don't work hard or have money, you don't. Let the lazy bums die, since they weren't willing to work hard for our society why should society coddle them and keep them alive - except as reliable Democratic Party voters. Despite research that shows that we pay the most for health care and are not even close to the healthiest, we have the best health care system in the world. Despite the fact that insurance companies will deny coverage of certain drugs or procedures that are expensive if they can find any way to get out of it, we don't have to worry about rationing, and despite the dangerous lack of nurses and doctors, we don't have to worry about waiting times like we would in a "socialist" system. Keep your laws off my body, unless it's to enforce drug testing on wellfare recipients or prevent medically necessary abortions.
In every example I can think of, the conservative argument comes back to the responsibility of the individual and reliance on the state exclusively for protection and enforcement of morality. Social structures or socio-economic location play no factor - race or "culture" are far more likely to be considered factors leading to a person's state, so that being at the bottom of the economic pyramid is never a sign of problems with the system but instead a reflection on their poor choices. That big corporations are deified as being efficient and "less evil" than government, able and capable of effectively taking over every current role of the government, may be part of that Puritan mindset that being poor means you are not in God's favor while being rich means you are, and since big companies are rich, they must be good.
Something to think about