Is Candace Owens Showing Us How to Disagree Better?

A few weeks ago Candace Owens was all the buzz when she pushed back on Congressmen Ted Lieu (D-CA) not allowing him to mis-characterize what she said and her character.  
 
You can watch that exchange below:

That clip became the most watched C-SPAN video on twitter.  
 
But the clip from the hearing that matters was her opening.  
 

 
Quick, sharp and un-flappable, Owens is quickly becoming a large part of the political conversation.  
 
A fan of Owens or not, her arguments are extension of Dr Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman – so she is swimming in the deep end of the pool.  An advocate for the the people she cares the most about (her own), Owens isn’t afraid of typically off-limit topics. 
 
A deeper dive shows what separates her from the pack is less about the topics she is willing to step into and more about whom she is willing to step into those topics with.  
 
In a recent article in the New York Times, Author Brooks argues that our problem isn’t that we argue or disagree too much, but that we don’t argue or disagree the right way.  
 
Our goal should not be to disagree less, but it should be to disagree better.  
 
 
Anybody who’s tried to disagree better knows it isn’t easy. 
 
So how can we disagree better?  
 
Talking with people we disagree with is a start.  
 
According to Brooks though, it isn’t enough.  
 
What also keeps us from disagreeing better is what he labels “motive attribution asymmetry” which is…
 
the belief that our ideology is based in love and our opponents is based in hate.  This not only leads to intolerance, but far worse.  It leads to contempt.  Contempt makes political compromise and progress impossible. 
 
Listening to Owen’s most recent conversations with Russel Brand (everybody knows him – right?) and Hank Newsome (the chairman of New York chapter of Black Lives Matter) shows someone trying to disagree better.  
 
While there is little agreement in the 3+ hours, there is almost no contempt.  
 
Owens and Newsome cover
 
  • Fathers
  • Police brutality and the blue wall
  • Food poison in the poor communities
  • Affirmative action
  • Why we should have more African immigrants 
  • Welfare being a crutch vs wheel chair 
  • What Shaquille O’Neil thanks about financial literacy 
  • Being offended
  • The first step act
 
Newsome closes with:
 
“I’m not looking for America to deliver liberation. I’m looking for it to do it’s part. In an effective way.”
 

 
Brand opens with:
 
“A great conversation with someone I disagree with about 90% of what she says and isn’t that the point of public discourse.” 
 
Brand and Owens plow through
 
  • anorexia
  • individualism
  • pre-existing ideology 
  • the impediment of debate
  • oppression olympics
  • spirituality and its place in politics
  • socialism vs capitalism
  • government bail outs and their role in capitalism
  • breaking up google
 
Looking at the components of humanity Brand quotes Solzhenitsyn
 author of The Gulag Archipelago 
 
“the line between good and evil runs not between nations, religions or creeds, but through every human heart”. 
 
and ads his own take
 
“I know there is selfishness, greed…. and the lot in me, so I need to exist in communities that acknowledges that I am flawed and can fail but can encourage the better parts of my nature”
 
About and hour and a half in, they make an attempt to build a government (Brand’s “utopia”) that works – Making it about 2 minutes before they give up or get distracted.  
 
Did those conversations solve anything?  
 
Maybe not.  
 
But they are a start.  And starting is hard.  Starting is the hardest thing and more people need to start.  
 
So, instead of attacking Owens, maybe Mr Leiu could learn from her and start trying to do his job by figuring out how to disagreeing better.  
 
Congress has to disagree better if it is ever going to achieve something.  
 
For politics to work, politicians have to be able to disagree better.  If they don’t we will lose faith in the system. 
 
Once we lose faith in that the only next step is not civil discourse – but civil war.  
 
 
 
 

The failure of the deep state & our path to come together or grow further apart

I read this article (Autopsy of  Dead Coup) by Victor David Hanson a while back.  
 
After the Mueller report came out this weekend I went back and read it again.  A few things stood out when I originally read it and even more so today.  
 
The deep state is by nature cowardly.
 
What James Rutenberg of the New York Times said represented a deep sense of my frustration with many (almost all) of the people that can’t seem to understand why someone can support Trump and not represent all that is wrong in the world.  
 
For those that sincerely want to understand why people support Trump they should watch this.  
 
For an understanding about how James Rutenberg sees the world read this.
 
James Rutenberg in 2016:
 
“If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, non-opinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable. But the question that everyone is grappling with is: Do normal standards apply? And if they don’t, what should take their place?”
 
It’s clear a huge portion of people hate Trump and see him as a threat – maybe even a majority.  But it should also be fair to assume that the other half honestly considers the alternative to Trump just as threatening?  
 
If this country has any hope, honest and reasonable people have to realize that each side is equally threatened at the prospect of their political opponents moving the country further away from their own ideas about where the country should go.  It has been that way since the beginning and it isn’t ever going to change.  
 
What seems different today is how we are dealing with that sense of threat.  
 
We can either 1) ascribe the worst intentions or motives to our opponents or  2) give them the benefit of the doubt that maybe their heart could possibly be in the right place – or a right enough place.    
 
Option 2, is the only real way forward.  And option 2 starts with each of us individually.  It is hard and necessary.  But, it can’t start at the top – it can only start at the individual level.  
 
The alternative is much worse.
 
When problems don’t get solved, things get worse.  They always get worse.  
 
Things either get better or they get worse. They don’t stay the same.  It’s the way things work. That isn’t changeable.  
 
What is changeable is how we choose to view things and what actions we choose to take next.   
 
Doing nothing and choosing not to change is a choice and an action itself.  It will not lead to a good place. 
 
The leaders we have today are a reflection of us.  And they are all taking harder and harder tacks to their sides as opposed to coming together.  The few that try to govern from a point of consensus don’t get any traction.  That isn’t on them.  That is on  the majority in the middle that keeps supporting the extremes – even though they say they don’t. They do.  Elections every where prove that.  
 
The extremes are getting emboldening, the middle is losing power and the majority is being left out of the conversation.  If we want our leaders to change we have to change. 
 
This is not a small thing.  It is the thing.  When the only people left to govern are those on the extremes, nothing will get get done and the only possible next step is Civil War.  The extremes will fight the extremes and the middle will have to pick sides. 
 
And for the people that don’t think they like their choices today, Civil War eliminates all of the moderate choices. 
 
Don’t think Civil War is in the cards?  Ask those people in Rwanda and Sarajevo  if they thought Civil War was in their cards six-months before it was.  Sarajevo was hosting the olympics less than a decade prior to the Bosnian Civil War.  
 
For more on how Civil War is in the cards and irresponsible to deny it, read this article in the New Yorker, where Keith Mines lays out five conditions for civil war.  
  1. entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution;
  2. increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows;
  3. weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary;
  4. a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership;
  5. and the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes. 
Yep.  
 
Looking for some hope?
 
The fact that our President isn’t a traitor or a puppet of Russia is a good thing – right?
 
The Mueller Report gives keeps the country out of Civil War.  If anybody thinks that Trumps folks would have sat still and watched him get removed from office peacefully are delusional.  They already thought the system was rigged against them.  This would have proved their point and justified their actions (in their minds at least).  
 
There is now an opportunity (small as it is) for the country to re group and re decide whether it wants to come together or stay on the divisional course it is on now.  The 2020 Election will allow that to take place in a national debate.  We get to pick what that debate is going to look like.  
 
We should decide what we really want, who we want to be and have that discussion.  
 
Want something to be thankful for Trump about?
 
Trump already turned the table over.  A majority of the positions that have been traditionally left and right are all now up for debate (trade, war, prison reform, globalism, immigration….).  Reasonable people can take a step back and ask them themselves what they really think about the key issues.  They are less held by parties than ever before.  New parties and alliances could be formed that more reflect what people really believe and want.  
 
A post Trump presidency (either in 2020 or 2024) is going to be a fundamentally different political structure than a pre Trump presidency.  It will be different.  What isn’t clear is if it will be better.  We get to decide that.  We should act accordingly.  
 
Bonus: A Second thing to be thankful about Trump….
 
He ended the Bush and Clinton dynasties.  That is something we can all come together around.