Ben Shapiro vs Destiny Debate: Politics, Jan 6, Israel, Ukraine & Wokeism | Lex Fridman Podcast #410

Ben Shapiro vs Destiny Debate: Politics, Jan 6, Israel, Ukraine & Wokeism | Lex Fridman Podcast #410

Introduction (00:00:00)

  • Ben Shapiro and Destiny, representing the right and left of American politics, engage in a debate about various topics.
  • The debate lasts for approximately 2.5 hours.

Liberalism vs Conservatism (00:01:36)

  • Destiny, a liberal, believes in government intervention to ensure equal opportunities for all individuals.
  • He supports taxing the rich to fund necessary programs but criticizes Democrats for demonizing success and wealth.
  • Ben Shapiro, a conservative, shares similar views on individual opportunities and minimal government interference.
  • He emphasizes the importance of local governments and subsidiarity, preserving key liberties, and respecting human nature.
  • Shapiro's conservatism includes social conservatism (family as the chief institution), valuing free markets and property rights, and a hawkish foreign policy.

Education (00:06:49)

  • Shapiro believes that the biggest educational problem is not a schooling problem but pre-exists it.
  • He argues that family structure, value of education at home, parental involvement, and local community involvement are more important factors in educational outcomes than funding or access to technology.
  • Shapiro criticizes the focus on superficial solutions like air conditioning and school lunches, arguing that they are not the primary causes of educational disparities.
  • He suggests that addressing the underlying social and economic factors that contribute to educational problems is more effective than pouring money into schools.
  • Shapiro acknowledges that two-parent households are beneficial for children's education but argues that it is not a problem that can be easily solved by government policies.
  • He believes that shotgun marriages are not a reasonable solution to the decline in marriage rates and that history does not always move in one direction.
  • Shapiro suggests that higher levels of education tend to lead to higher marriage rates, contradicting Destiny's claim that education delays marriage.
  • He emphasizes the importance of local communities in addressing educational issues and criticizes the focus on federal policies that ignore the specific needs of different communities.
  • Shapiro argues that the left tends to focus on problems that can be solved by government while ignoring more significant societal issues that are not easily addressed by government intervention.
  • He acknowledges that government can play a role in addressing certain issues, such as after-school programs to prevent children from engaging in risky behaviors, but emphasizes that government is not the solution to all social problems.
  • Shapiro suggests that finding the optimal level of government spending on education is a matter of pragmatism and cost-effectiveness, rather than a moral issue.

Trump vs Biden (00:23:06)

  • Ben Shapiro believes Trump's foreign policy record is better than Biden's, citing the current state of the world as an example.
  • Shapiro argues that Trump's economic record was better than Biden's, despite overspending.
  • Shapiro criticizes Biden's rhetoric and compares it to Trump's, suggesting that Biden's divisive language has contributed to the country's division.
  • Shapiro acknowledges that Trump is divisive but argues that Biden is also divisive and that the American people may be rhetorically divided due to social media.
  • Shapiro suggests that Biden's divisiveness may be due to the fact that he initially presented himself as a uniter but has since been perceived as divisive.
  • Shapiro criticizes Biden's legislative accomplishments, comparing them to Trump's, and argues that Republicans tend to find Democratic presidents divisive.
  • Shapiro discusses foreign policy, expressing support for Biden's approach to Ukraine and Russia and his efforts to moderate Israel's actions towards Palestine.
  • Shapiro acknowledges the disastrous Afghanistan pullout but argues that it was largely due to the Doha Accords negotiated by Trump.
  • Shapiro and Lex Fridman discuss the divisiveness of Trump and Biden's rhetoric, with Shapiro arguing that Biden's rhetoric is treated with less seriousness than Trump's.
  • Shapiro suggests that Biden's divisiveness may be due to a combination of factors, including the inherent divisiveness of his rhetoric and the fact that he initially presented himself as a uniter.
  • Shapiro criticizes Biden's legislative accomplishments, comparing them to Trump's, and argues that Republicans tend to find Democratic presidents divisive.
  • Shapiro discusses foreign policy, expressing support for Biden's approach to Ukraine and Russia and his efforts to moderate Israel's actions towards Palestine.
  • Shapiro acknowledges the disastrous Afghanistan pullout but argues that it was largely due to the Doha Accords negotiated by Trump.

Foreign policy (00:43:31)

  • Ben Shapiro and Lex Fridman discuss foreign policy, focusing on the Middle East, Ukraine, and Iran.
  • Ben Shapiro argues that the Middle East was more stable under Donald Trump than under Joe Biden.
  • He criticizes the Biden administration's approach to Iran, arguing that it has led to increased violence in the region.
  • Shapiro believes that the Abraham Accords were a positive development, but that they were not the result of Biden's policies.
  • He argues that the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East is Iran and that the only way to achieve peace is through containment and sanctions.
  • Ben Shapiro believes that the United States should support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.
  • He argues that Russia is a threat to global security and that it must be stopped.
  • Shapiro criticizes the Biden administration's handling of the Ukraine crisis, arguing that it has been too slow to provide assistance to Ukraine.
  • Ben Shapiro believes that Iran is the main instigator of bad things in the Middle East.
  • He argues that the Iranian regime is not interested in peace and that the only way to deal with Iran is through containment and sanctions.
  • Shapiro criticizes the Biden administration's attempts to engage with Iran, arguing that they are doomed to fail.

Israel-Palestine (00:56:28)

  • Israel should have focused on eliminating Hezbollah instead of Hamas during the recent conflict.
  • Israel's attempt to minimize civilian casualties has resulted in a high military death toll.
  • Israel's complacency about its security led to the October 7th attacks.
  • Settlement expansion is provocative to Palestinians and energizes hatred in Gaza.
  • Israel should take strong steps towards peace, even if it means enduring some hardship.
  • Both Israel and Palestine believe that continued fighting benefits them.
  • The Palestinian leadership has consistently called for the liberation of all of Israel.
  • Israel has an interest in expanding settlements in the West Bank as long as the conflict continues.
  • The death of the Oslo Accords is the death of the illusion that there was anyone worth bargaining with on the Palestinian side.
  • The next 20 years in Israel will be about security and economic development.
  • The Abraham Accords did not address the Palestinian issue and brought in irrelevant countries.
  • Biden has been more supportive of Israel than Obama, but his recent rhetoric about Israel making painful concessions is doomed to failure.
  • The Abraham Accords proved that surrounding countries have abandoned the idea of the centrality of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
  • The rise of Iran has made Sunni states sign up with Israel as a counterweight.

Russia-Ukraine (01:11:25)

  • Ben Shapiro criticizes Biden's policy of outsourcing the end goal of the war to Zelensky without clearly stating America's interests.
  • Shapiro argues that Biden should have helped Zelensky make a deal with Putin early on, giving up Crimea, Luhansk, and Donetsk in exchange for peace and security guarantees.
  • He believes that Biden's open-ended commitment to Ukraine is unwise and could lead to a frozen conflict.
  • Destiny agrees that the US should have a clear foreign policy interest in Ukraine but disagrees with Shapiro's assessment of the situation.
  • Destiny argues that it was not obvious that Russia would fail to capture Kyiv and that the US was right to support Ukraine's defense.
  • He also criticizes the practice of attaching unrelated issues to funding bills, such as linking Ukraine aid to border funding.

Biden's Handling of Ukraine (01:13:05)

  • Destiny commends Biden for making it clear that the US would not establish a no-fly zone or deploy troops in Ukraine.
  • He also praises the coalition-building between NATO and the EU to support Ukraine.
  • However, Destiny expresses concern about the open-ended nature of US support for Ukraine and hopes that the Biden administration is working towards a reasonable off-ramp.
  • He suggests that the US should start attaching conditions to its financial aid to Ukraine, encouraging them to seek a peaceful resolution.

Omnibus Bill and Ukraine Funding (01:14:45)

  • Shapiro criticizes the practice of attaching unrelated issues to funding bills, such as linking Ukraine aid to border funding.
  • He argues that Biden should cave on the border funding in order to secure the Ukraine aid and other important provisions in the omnibus bill.
  • Destiny agrees that it is unfortunate that the government often operates in this manner, with multiple issues being held hostage in negotiations.

January 6 (01:23:04)

  • Destiny believes that Donald Trump's actions leading up to and including January 6th, 2021, were indefensible.
  • Ben Shapiro argues that Trump's actions did not meet the legal standards for incitement of insurrection or insurrection itself.
  • Shapiro highlights the lack of evidence suggesting a well-coordinated insurrectionist attempt coordinated by the White House.
  • Shapiro criticizes the media's loose use of the term "incitement" and emphasizes the specific legal definition of incitement.
  • Shapiro argues that Trump's dissemination of false information may have been due to his own self-deception rather than a deliberate attempt to mislead.
  • Shapiro questions whether Trump actually believed he had lost the election and suggests that he may have genuinely believed his own false claims.
  • Shapiro expresses concerns about Trump's attempts to entrench his power beyond his term and the potential for him to appoint loyalists who would support his plans in a future administration.
  • Shapiro believes in the checks and balances of the American government and argues that they held firm on January 6th.
  • Shapiro acknowledges that Trump has made promises in the past that he did not fulfill and questions whether the guardrails of democracy will continue to hold.
  • Shapiro expresses skepticism about the ability of Republicans to resist Trump's influence and the potential consequences of this for future elections.

Abuse of power (01:39:03)

  • Trump only cares about himself and is a threat to the Republican party.
  • Trump has no concern for the future of the Republican party and is willing to throw them under the bus for his own personal gain.
  • Trump has taken concrete steps to prevent the peaceful transfer of power and is a threat to democracy.
  • Conservatives made a dangerous gamble when they threw Trump into office and now the consequences of that decision are affecting all Americans.
  • There is a case to be made to remove Trump from the ballot based on the 14th Amendment, which states that anyone who has engaged in insurrection shall not hold office.
  • The 14th Amendment is self-executing, meaning it does not require a conviction to be enforced.
  • However, the Supreme Court is unlikely to uphold the argument that states should be able to decide if they leave Trump off the ballot.
  • It would be unhealthy for the political future of the United States if the leading opposition candidate is barred from the ballot.
  • Trump has repeatedly made false claims about the 2020 election being stolen and has attempted to overturn the results.
  • Trump pressured state officials to overturn the election results and threatened to fire his acting attorney general if he did not comply.
  • Trump's actions are a threat to democracy and show that he is willing to undermine the rule of law to stay in power.
  • Biden has used executive power in ways that far exceed what previous presidents have done.
  • Biden has used executive orders to implement policies that could not pass through Congress, such as the vaccine mandate and student loan forgiveness.
  • Biden's use of executive power is a threat to the separation of powers and the rule of law.
  • Trump's rhetoric is often inflammatory and divisive, but his policies are generally in line with conservative ideology.
  • Biden's rhetoric is more moderate, but his policies are often more progressive.
  • The choice between Trump and Biden is a matter of personal preference, but it is important to consider the potential consequences of each candidate's policies.

Wokeism (01:49:01)

  • Wokeism has its roots in postmodernism, suggesting that every principle reflects underlying power structures and any inequality is a result of those structures.
  • Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a softer form of postmodernism that views US systems as white supremacist and perpetuated by those who favor white power preservation.
  • CRT's key concept is Equity, which differs from equality. Equity assumes that any inequality is due to discrimination, and group success or failure along economic and power lines determines whether someone is oppressed or an oppressor.
  • Anti-racist policies, as proposed by Ibram X. Kendi, suggest discrimination based on race to correct systemic discrimination, leading to a victim-victimizer narrative that harms individuals and societies.
  • Meritocracy is the only system with positive externalities, as the most effective and useful people succeed, benefiting others.
  • Harvard's president should have been fired for her performance at a Congressional hearing, not for plagiarism allegations.
  • Firing university leaders like Claudine Gay doesn't address the underlying Dei Equity-based system that dominates American universities, which spend billions on Dei initiatives and diversity hires.
  • Wokeism started with positive aspects like increased representation in media and women's achievements, but it lacks a stopping point and gets lost in "woke for woke's sake" arguments.
  • Warping academic arguments leads to harmful outcomes, such as the claim that white supremacy is as present today as ever, while denying that black people and other minorities can be racist.
  • Wokeism begins with good intentions but becomes distorted and harmful when taken to extremes.

Institutional capture (01:55:42)

  • Conservatives have become less willing to participate in higher education institutions, leading to a lack of conservative perspectives and an increase in ideological conformity on the left.
  • The educational system at the upper levels is seen as a scam, a waste of money, and a sorting mechanism for IQ.
  • Federal subsidies for higher education have contributed to the increase in educational costs.
  • There is a general populace tendency on all sides of the aisle to look at institutions and reject them.
  • Some institutions, like higher education in the liberal arts, may be better off without, while others, like participation in American government, need to be preserved.
  • Biden's rhetoric suggests he would be more supportive of institutions, but his actions, such as his use of executive power, indicate otherwise.
  • Trump resisted the boundaries of institutions but was unable to break free from them.
  • People are increasingly sorting into their own bubbles, leading to a lack of understanding and interaction between different groups.
  • Providing more information and firsthand experiences can help people change their minds and break out of echo chambers.
  • Social media algorithms and educational institutions should encourage mixing and discourage sorting.

Monogamy vs open relationships (02:09:36)

  • Ben Shapiro believes monogamous marriage is the single most important thing people can do in the United States.
  • Ben Shapiro argues that a father and mother committed to each other are necessary for the healthy growth of a child.
  • Ben Shapiro views monogamous marriage as the foundation for social fabric and functional government.
  • Destiny agrees that structure is important for raising a child.
  • Destiny believes having a child increases one's investment in society.
  • Destiny acknowledges the decline in birth rates and the impact of competing interests on childbearing.
  • Destiny is unsure about implementing a moral imperative to have children.
  • Destiny observes demographic trends, such as an aging population, and their impact on society.

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