Politicon Debate Featuring Ben Shapiro a Healthy Sign for Independent Media

Politicon Debate Featuring Ben Shapiro
The Politicon debate at the end of July between Ben Shapiro and Cenk Uygur was broadcast live online via Youtube.

I am not alone in mistrusting mainstream news media sources. Institutional media sources have for decades enjoyed monopolizing the general public’s perception about current events and relevant political issues, and though the internet has existed for years, it has taken until now for alternative media sources to gain the sort of organization and following to contend for people’s attention as a primary news source.

The bubble protecting established television news giants appears to be near its bursting-point. The Politicon debate at the end of July between Ben Shapiro and Cenk Uygur was broadcast live online via Youtube, allowing the two participants to reach their respective audiences through the alternative, online format that they both favor. Shapiro also appeared on the massively popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast less than a week later. Rogan’s viewership is sure to spread Shapiro’s point of view and message about small government and personal liberty to uncharted territory.

Representing the left-wing alternative media was Cenk Uygur, host and co-founder of the leftist Youtube program The Young Turks. Representing the right was Ben Shapiro, who made a name for himself as a standout writer and editor for Breitbart, before starting his own conservative alternative media website, The Daily Wire, which also places a huge emphasis on video content hosted by Youtube.


The first issue tackled by the two dueling analysts was healthcare, an issue that is exceptionally complex and full of bureaucracy in the United States, so it is good to have someone as loquacious as Shapiro to help us navigate it. Uygur parroted the tired talking points about healthcare being a right, a point which Shapiro countered handily by clarifying the differences between rights and services, and went on to explain that mandating participation and removing free-market competition are the things responsible for making it difficult for many to pay. The actual services and products themselves could be much more affordable with less government regulation and interference, points that he has made before.

Apparently having no counter to Shapiro’s points in the opening minutes, Uygur transitioned from the issue of healthcare to taxes in general and the myriad of things which he feels ought to be entirely paid for through higher taxes.

Round two: The picture that Uygur painted of  Utopian world in which all of our healthcare and other needs were provided by the government, and as a result we would pay higher taxes — going as far as to describe existing tax rates as “bare bones” and citing higher top tax percentages from the 1960s — until Shapiro reminded him and everyone else that the reconstructive conditions of the US and the world were considerably different following WWII, and for that reason incomparable and irrelevant.

The issue of whether tax revenue propels economic growth by allowing for more “good” to be done with it, or whether tax reductions stimulate more economic growth allowing smaller businesses to flourish is one that most people are already fairly familiar with.

Next, Uygur brought up corporations that receive tax breaks and/or make use of loopholes, and how this issue related to what he perceives as a need to regulate campaign finance for politicians and political activists. Currently, donations fall under the category of free speech, as a person has the right to demonstrate monetarily who and what they support. Cenk made the point that corporations seek to maximize profits, meaning that they cannot be trusted to spend their money in a way that would  benefit others, and Shapiro reminded him about personal property and the sovereignty to decide for yourself how the capital you generate should be spent. Despite what Cenk claims about the re-circulation of money, Ben reminded us that it is innovation, not spending, that actually generates sustained growth. Innovations require personal incentive and the ability to keep what you earn as well as the liberty to lend and borrow freely in the pursuit of personal endeavors.

A highlight from this particular point of contention was a spat in which Shapiro pointed out the US $4 million Buddy Roemer gave Uygur and his co-founders to begin TYT. Shapiro’s point was that it was hypocritical for Uygur to claim that massive private donations should be illegal when his own business and success were generated in the same way. Shapiro even called him a prostitute, and claimed that he also had received considerable donations from Al Jazeera in addition to “kissing Bernie Sander’s ass” throughout the entire election cycle.

The final round of their debate was dedicated to the issue of identity politics, a topic this time introduced by Shapiro when asked about a potential ideal candidate in 2020. His short response to the question was that he would like the to see a candidate run on a “small government/libertarian” platform, adding that “the government should get out of our lives as much as humanly possible,” before the topic shifted into a discussion of the Southern Strategy as a supposed example of conservative identity politics. Shapiro was again well equipped to discuss this issue. He predictably clarified the reality of southern racism belonging originally to the Democratic Party, with the slave owner confederates and the “old-Democrat” led Ku Klux Klan. The advent of southern conservatism came about when northern republicans moved south to expand their businesses before the civil rights movement.

I have not put much thought into potential candidates or platforms for future candidates after the Trump presidency, though I sincerely believe that the issues and perspectives from both the left and the right were better represented in this debate than in those which pitted Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton. God bless Youtube, God bless independent news media, and God bless America.

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