A Different Way to Look at Politics

It's Dan again with some more thoughts on the world.

I love thinking about political issues, but just like with other issues, it's hard to realize that I'm not always right. It's humbling to be completely convinced that one side is right or wrong, and then learn a single fact that flips everything upside down.  More and more over the last few years, I've started to realize that that's reality.  No matter how much we think we have things figured out, there is always something we didn't consider that puts us in our place.

Ironically, I've recently come to a very strong conclusion and I think that I'm completely right:  If we truly care about peace, happiness and doing what's right, we should seek education and peaceful means of sharing knowledge, rather than being emotional and attempting to identify "enemies".  Too often we divide ourselves with sarcasm, villainizing, and yelling, when we could be united in a search for answers.  Too often it's "us against them".

No one really knows everything that is going on and what the effects of our decisions will be.  We just do our best with what we have.  The controversial issues are controversial for a reason.  They are complicated.  There's no way that any of us can have George W Bush, Barack Obama, abortion, immigration, welfare, etc completely figured out.  So why do we have depict them as angels or demons?

Why would anyone want their thoughts, speech, actions, etc  to be like Glenn Beck or Jon Stewart?  They both yell, they're both sarcastic, they're both emotional.  I wouldn't want either of them to be in my home.  I wouldn't want my kids to grow up to be like either of them.  From everything I've heard and seen from both, neither of them have given me new knowledge on any issue.

I've loved the discussions on tv or radio when there is a calm discussion with two experts from opposing sides of a debate.  They'll take turns giving facts and showing a different perspective.  No one yells, no one makes accusations, no one is the enemy Glenn Beck speaks of who is "coming for you" to "slaughter you".  I wish it was always like that.


Ksenia said...

oh how true. People just LOVE trying to making things black and white. I'm not a fan of most political talk show hosts because I know they get paid to provoke extreme emotions. Extreme emotions really cloud reason.

Marissa and Blaine said...

I'm with you, Dan! Great post!

Aaron said...

Dan. Looks like we have a lot to discuss in a non yelling kind of way.

I can't speak of Jon's show, but I don't think there is any way that someone could watch Glenn's TV show or listen to his radio show for at least one week and not learn anything new. In the past 7 yars, he has inspired me to "educate myself" by reading countless books that have given me a lot of enlightement. In fact that is what Glenn's whole show has been about the last two years. He is constantly talking about "self educating ourselves".

Watch his show or listen to his radiow show for two weeks and let me know if you have learned anything.

We still need to get to the "pancake house" sometime.

The Earley's said...

I agree, Dan! Although, I do have to admit that I like to watch Jon Stewart on the Daily Show and think it's hilarious. Still, people should not take what he says as fact and research the issues for themselves.

Daniel Edwin said...

Hey Aaron,

Thank you for commenting. I'd love to talk about these things more - and I don't hate people who like Glenn Beck or see things differently.

We really do need to go get some pancakes. I just passed that place on my way back from a client meeting the other day and it was calling to me.

I can see how someone would learn something from Glenn Beck, and Josh was saying that he has been inspired to read some books and get involved because of him, so it makes total sense that people learn things from him every now and then.

I have watched a couple full episodes of his TV show. I didn't pick controversial ones. I came across them on TV. I couldn't identify any real facts. One of them was Glenn Beck cutting up pies and eating donuts and saying it represented something that was happening, but there were no real facts given. He just said a lot of things like "how are we letting this happen?!"

I saw a clip of him on "The View" where Barbara Walters addressed him as a journalist and he corrected her and said he's a commentator. He's not a non-partial informant. He's an entertainer. He yells. He jokes. From everything I've seen of his show, his website, and his book, he seems to be focused on sarcasm and condescension (his book is titled "How to argue with idiots"). Sarcasm rubs off. Condescension rubs off. Yelling rubs off. Fear rubs off. I don't want to be like that, so I don't want to immerse myself in it.

Maybe I need to give it more of a chance. I'm still trying to decided. I can't say I disagree with his political ideology. Whenever anyone talks to me about why they feel government should be limited, I think it makes a lot of sense. I just feel like he's teaching us to argue and be volatile at least as much as he's giving any real information. While I don't disagree with reasons for limited government, I read through the health care bill and while I have some questions about parts of it, I didn't have a lot of issues with it and don't think it's unconstitutional. I'm interested in all of these things, but not angry. Would he consider me an idiot?

I've never heard anything as contentious on OPB or NPR. Their programs always have highly respected experts from every side speaking calmly. They're boring to a lot of people, but they give so much good information. They don't scream at people who call in and call them pinheads. They don't care about being exciting. I don't feel like they treat any person like an enemy that wants to kill our children. I just think that's a much healthier way to learn.

Daniel Edwin said...

Oh...I think Jon Stewart is hilarious too. I think he's even more on the entertainer side of things and no one considers him to be a source of information...I hope.

Aaron said...


You do have some good points. I do have to admit that I have listened to Glenn for years and am very use to his delivery style. Which has to be the way it is because otherwise it would make for very boring television for most people.

His show is one you would also need to watch consistently to really understand what is going on.

One thing I find interresting is that over time Glenn has laid down many facts about many of the organizations in our country and their desired goals to take our country more toward a socialist nation. Groups like the Weather Underground (founded by Van Jones who was one of our president's advisors) and tides foundation. The funny thing is that when he does lay the facts out on the table, nobody tries to prove him wrong, they just start to call him names and say he is crazy or make fun of him for crying.

I think he just doesn't want to see the country that he grew up in disappear. For him, this country represents a place where he was able to go from not being able to afford his $600 rent 10 years ago to where he is today.

Anyways, enough about Glenn. If you haven't read Thr Propert Role of Government by Ezra Taft Benson you should. I think he lays out the best argument I have ever seen for what government should be about.

Aaron said...


I was wrong, Van Jones founded Color of change. Bill Ayers founded the weather underground.

Anonymous said...

There comes a point when the perspective one is arguing against becomes so deluded that it is impossible to communicate effectively.

Aaron, I believe you and Glenn Beck are smart people but you have not addressed the concerns or questions Dan has asked. He is addressing the problems of emotive and binary bickering. He did not call into question Glenn Beck's character or intentions, which is what you seem to be arguing.

(Though you yourself did admit that his show would be more 'boring' with out the antics, which could be a relevant motive.)

Aaron said...


I was not attempting to address Dan's concerns of "emotive and binary bickering" I agree with him. It is nice to see people calmly debate.

I do however find it amazing that someone would make these arguments and then admit that they haven't really watched his show consistently, but have only seen "clips" of him and a couple shows.

I was mainly trying to address the issue that Dan indicated that "From everything I've heard and seen from both, neither of them have given me new knowledge on any issue."

It would be hard to learn something without watching.

Anyways, I know Dan has a good head and seems like he is open to other points of view which is a very good thing for either side of a debate.

Courtney B said...

I personally feel that after 2 entire episodes and enough youtube videos (of his actual show) is enough to choose to keep watching/listening or not. Why keep subjecting yourself to something so negative? I have read things on Glenn's own website and watched about the same as Dan and I don't want to ever watch anymore. He yells, calls names, and does so many more slanderous and inflammatory things that are not necessary (other than for shear entertainment, which is not why I watch or listen to news)

I think that he does have some valid concerns about our government and politics, but I hate the way he presents it and exaggerates things. He is an entertainer/commentator... not a journalist.

Justin said...

Sorry about the anonymous thing... the network was being a little weird.

I actually do listen to his show on occasion. More times than I can count for sure. I think it's interesting to analyze his arguments. His assumptions and deductions are usually absurd. Once he was talking about a newly appointed regulatory czar and the information he had was that the man was a vegetarian with a graduate degree. By the end of the segment he was concluding that this newly appointed official would put constraints on the meat industry and that his scholarship made him untrustworthy with power. The deductive logic he used was simple and easy to follow but also very charged and irrational if looked act objectively.
I'll be more blunt than Dan. I feel strongly that Glenn Beck is either insane or dishonest and manipulative with his rhetoric, which could be okay if you believe that ends justify the means.

Also, (sorry this is long winded) I thought it was interesting that Aaron started arguing Glenn Beck's character in response to Dan. It's very much the sort of thing that Dan is talking about. That binary thinking of 'Glenn Beck can't be bad because look how good of a person he is.'
He can be a good Father/Man/Christian/Mormon and still be a bad journalist.

Also to Dan,
A more comparable Journalist would be Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. That guy is kind of a hack too.

Daniel Edwin said...


I just read through most of that article/talk/lecture from Ezra Taft Benson and it was really well written. I haven't read that before. I think it does a great job outlining principles that could be used as rules/tools for measuring and making decisions about government and I recommend it to anyone as an interesting ideology. This is the best breakdown the the limited government point of view that I have seen/heard/watched. Based on his reasoning:

-Aspects of life that don't influence our ability to have life, liberty and property should not be government controlled. Libraries, unemployment benefits, postal services, education, social security, and crop subsidies are all things that a government should not be providing - even a little - because they are benefits that not everyone wants to pay for. Anything that tampers with the economy (other than protection from fraud, theft, or monopolies) would also seem to be off limits.
-Appropriate government involvement could include military (strictly for defense), maintaining a clean environment, disease prevention, disaster recovery, and ensuring we have power and water.

I think there are a lot of different ways to interpret and apply that ideology. From reading through the health care bill, I see a lot that seems to fit what President Benson is striving for. I can think of some things that wouldn't fit his rules, but there's also a lot of good in it - including language allowing states to opt out of the federal system. However I've never heard a republican, tea party supporter, or Glenn Beck supporter point out anything positive about it. I've actually never heard anyone say much of anything about specific parts of it, but I've heard a lot of broad negativity and I recently saw it in a list of reasons why Obama is an enemy to our country who should be impeached.

I'd like to see more people dig in and talk specifics. I'd like to see more discussion about what's likely to be effective or not based on deep and fair consideration and not strictly broad ideology and ambiguous, emotional claims.