Humans are social creatures. So when a conflict arises, dialogue should always be the default solution. At the very least, we should give it a try before moving on to more drastic action. Talking out our problems is perhaps the most incredible development in our evolution, providing a thin barrier between us and our more violent cousins in the animal kingdom.

But dialogue does not always work, and can sometimes be a waste of time. Dishonest people often use dialogue to confuse and deflect, or to run out the clock on anyone who can resist them. There is no magic formula to figuring out when to abandon a rational conversation. Harder still is figuring out when someone is genuinely confused and misled, or simply lying.

Few groups in recent memory have forfeited the courtesy of dialogue with more enthusiasm and recklessness than the supporters of former President Donald Trump. I have long since left behind my confusion and anger with these people, along with the hope that one can reason with them. I’m now at the point where I essentially pathologize their behavior. I admit that this is a debatable move, one that certainly would not apply to every single Trump voter. All I can say is that my position comes from years of trying and failing to understand what exactly they want, beyond mere tribalism, resentment, and score-settling.

As far as I can tell, we are witnessing some sort of mass epistemological crisis among the deplorables, with no signs of improvement. Typically, dialogue requires both parties to articulate what they believe, why they believe it, how confident they are in their belief, what would change their mind (or at least lower their confidence), and—perhaps most important—how they would react emotionally if they had to admit that they were wrong. So, when I say, “I believe Joe Biden won the 2020 election,” I’m saying that my position, based on available and observable evidence, is that Biden is the winner, and there are no plausible alternatives. Changing my mind would require a mountain of evidence, which would include a direct refutation of the election results in dozens of states that went blue that year.

For those who say, “The 2020 election was stolen,” something completely different seems to be happening. As Sarah Longwell writes for The Atlantic, such a position appears to be less of a “belief” in the normal sense of that word, as it is not rooted in facts or even a coherent worldview. The claim that Trump won is instead more of a tribal marker, or a giant middle finger to Democrats. The reported words of Rudy Giuliani sum up the situation perfectly: “We’ve got lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.” And yet Trump supporters want everyone to respect their position as if it were supported by evidence, and their centrist enablers in the media want us to do the same for the sake of civility.

How many Trumpers genuinely believe the election was stolen is hard to say, because so few of them will actually admit it. I’m serious. Try asking, “Do you believe the election was stolen?” and you will often encounter a deflection. Instead of a straight yes, they’ll say, “Well, there were some irregularities we should look into,” or something along those lines. And why would they commit to a position, when top Trump cronies like Tucker Carlson and Sidney Powell have already admitted that their own words should not be taken seriously?

Whether Trump supporters really believe the Big Lie may be irrelevant. For them, insisting this nonsense is real has become a way of controlling the narrative and throttling their enemies, the most sacred rituals of the Trump movement. In response, the people acting in good faith often waste time responding to every irrelevant bullet point, or coddling the fragile egos of Trump supporters. And nothing has changed.

Which is why the straightforward, succinct approach of the January 6th hearings comes as such a refreshing surprise. I cannot think of a news program, government inquiry, trial, documentary, article, or speech that was able to slice through the ocean of bullshit with such precision. The hearings have drawn rightful praise for their clarity and persuasiveness, and have offered some hope for justice for those of us feeling demoralized from years of lies and corruption.

More important, the hearings provide a model for moving past the endless both-sides framing that led us to this terrible place. Granted, we do not always have the opportunity to call a public hearing to settle every kitchen table dispute. But there are some lessons to consider.

Let’s start with the most obvious one. We should stop caring so much about changing the minds of Trump voters. The most frequent criticism suggests that the January 6th committee is a waste of time because Trump voters are set in their ways and won’t budge. To which I say, yes, we know. And we don’t care. As I hinted at earlier, a person who cannot even say what they believe and why they believe it is not even worth the energy required for an argument. To paraphrase Jonathan Swift: “You cannot reason someone out of a position that they did not reason themselves into.” Instead of trying to convince Trumpers to change their minds, our resources and time would be better spent rallying people who might actually vote, protest, or otherwise resist the Trump movement. The hearings are for those people. They are meant to unite the citizens who believe in the rule of law, a coalition that can defeat the GOP in a national election. Trump devotees are welcome to watch, or they can switch to Fox News to get updates on how political correctness will somehow destroy us all. I don’t care anymore.

Another lesson: We need to stop letting people of bad faith dictate the terms of a discussion. For too long, right-wingers have told the rest of us how to speak properly to right-wingers. They scold liberals for being condescending toward them, for shoving controversies like “science” and “civil rights” in their faces. They stomp their feet and growl when critics use completely valid adjectives to describe their behavior, like “racist,” or “hateful.” “This is why Hillary lost,” they say, as if they were teetering on the edge of voting Democrat until some woke progressive with pink hair asked them to use a gender-neutral pronoun. And too many people have fallen for this routine! The New York Times appears to have a permanent spot in their op-ed section for columnists who want to blame a general lack of civility for the terrible behavior of Trump supporters.

We don’t have to take any of this seriously anymore. We don’t have to pretend, for the sake of “balance,” that every nonsensical, contradictory talking point is a valid position that can be defended rationally.

Here, I give the committee credit for engaging one of the thorniest legal and philosophical issues surrounding January 6th. That is, the possibility that Trump truly believed that the election was stolen, and therefore had no discernible criminal intent. Recall that the Robert Mueller investigation, which analyzed Trump’s collusion with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign, essentially chickened out of this question. For Mueller, and for too many people in the media, Trump and his allies claiming pure intentions was good enough, and that we could only say, at best, that they were mistaken.

It’s safe to say that the hearings have fearlessly obliterated this attempt to control the narrative. Of course Trump knew that what he was doing was illegal. Given all that we know, why on earth would we take his word for it when he tells us otherwise? In other words, when someone lies, call them out for lying, and don’t get distracted when they feign outrage for being called a liar. It’s healthy for all parties involved.

In only the first few meetings, the hearings have managed to blunt at least one other persistent criticism. Republicans and even some Democrats have claimed that the committee is bipartisan in name only. Two GOP Representatives are on the panel, after Republican leader Kevin McCarthy balked at Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to seat Jim Jordan and Jim Banks, two of the most cynical purveyors of the Big Lie. In response, McCarthy pulled five of his members total, and used the kerfuffle as a reason to declare the process a “sham.”

Which brings us to another lesson: When life hands you an opportunity to do the right thing without engaging with bad faith actors, take it. Take it, and be grateful that the opportunity arose in the first place. And despite all the cynicism on both sides, the January 6th hearings are indeed the right thing to do. They represent a public accounting of a major event in history, one already slathered in misinformation. This reckoning belongs to the people, and is as much a duty as it is a legal procedure.

Liars do not fare as well when they lose home field advantage. By pulling his allies, McCarthy blew the chance to derail the proceedings with the same old tactics, from Gish galloping to “just asking questions” to making shit up. In a public space, with sworn testimony, efficient presentations, and minimal grandstanding, the truth is placed on the pedestal it deserves.

Just yesterday, the January 6th committee held another session and once again broke news, this time that many White House officials repeatedly urged Trump to call off his mob after it had assaulted the U.S. Capitol building. Each time, the committee has initiated a news cycle designed to make the coup plotters squirm, and to remind everyone that the investigation has no set end date.

When it’s over, I hope we remember what might be the most important lesson: Be vigilant, and be relentless. The deplorables have not taken a break, despite their defeat in 2020. Instead, they got on message, and made it clear that they will not stop on their own. The rest of us must do the same.