You’re probably wasting time debating. If you have to get involved verbally just ask questions they can’t answer. Do it like Jan Helfeld if you must:
A thing to do if you must debate is to get people to commit themselves to some principle or some position and once you have them on paper(not literally) commiting you can to work with that. A related technique is to call them out on their lack of intellectual honesty. Daring people to a challenge can work to. “You don’t really care about debating you just want to spout partisan nonesense, If you really cared you would read this article by Peter Schiff on taxes in the 50’s and give me a valid response”. This is another way to force people to commit.
The best thing to do when you get articles from friends or perhaps certain facts thrown at you is to write a blog refuting it. And instead of going through the verbal argument you can simply point them your blog post. This way you save time instead of individually lecturing each friend you have.
You have put things into perspective. Consider this website. This is a website that, according to Tom Woods, is making money teaching liberty and is growing in popularity. Would this have been possible 10 years ago? Consider the entire Ron Paul movement. He has supporters everywhere(I’m Danish and every libertarian here knows him and admires him). Consider that 50 years ago the intellectual debate was exclusively a non-free market debate at the highest level. Today nobody trusts economic planning the way they did back then. Take a look at Sweden. It used to be a socialist paradise(as if) but since the 90’s they were forced to abandon the heavy socialism and now they are moving in the right direction economicallt(although culturally they are a lost cause)
For me the promoters(or court intellectuals) are losing their outlets and quite fast. Consider the cornerstone of the American establishment, the New York Times. It is going down fast. As it goes down it loses influence. Newsweek is a symbol of this decline. Cabel tv is killing network tv. Universities are going the same way although sadly not the top class universities like Harvard but nonetheless it is important a lot is getting destroyed. And it isn’t just higher education that is losing out. As the internet will replace much of the newsmedia, as cabel tv replaces network tv, so private and internet education will replace government education. On top of that the economy in much of the West is headed for a situation where for the first time they will be forced to make big big cuts in welfare to save other welfare. You live the most exciting time for liberty. So CSA1861 has it completely right. You should be very encouraged.
EDIT: Found this article via the Teapartyeconomist.com: