A Loss Of Shared Spirit
It is no secret that there is a contentious ether in the American political climate. This zeitgeist steeped in divisiveness has been a major theme of mine throughout many of my writings.
Instead of a proud bipartisan representative system where spirited debate produces compromise and sensible legislation, we are dug in like a Paul von Hindenburg World War I underground trench system. Both sides blow their proverbial whistles and charge each other's trench in a futile effort to win the political day.
Discourse in this country has digressed into name calling and tribalism with politics being centered around demonization of your perceived opposition. In a country where there was once enough shared values to handle opposing views and debate was encouraged, I fear that the civil society has withered away and there is not enough commonality remaining for compromise anymore. So where do we go from here?
No matter what side of the political aisle you fall on, guess what? At least 49% of the country probably disagrees with you. Left or right, moderate or extreme, the reality is that not everyone is going to agree with you. I think a lot of people need to come to a sobering realization and accept this as a statistical fact.
Some people come from different backgrounds, hold different values, and see things differently. Other people have bad motivations, ignore information, and can simply be dismissed as ill-intentioned individuals.
I think the former heavily outweighs the latter, so we should stop attributing negative motivations to people’s political opinions. Instead, we should sit down and have a conversation. Not the trite “honest dialogue” that you hear the hack political pundits plea for on cable news networks. But an earnest and open exchange of ideas.
This begs the question, what are we to do with those people that we disagree with? Should we move to central Alabama or head northeast to Greenwich Village or to the far west coast of Malibu and only congregate with like-minded people?
Should we petition large corporations, politicians, and newspapers to silence those we disagree with? Should we call them names or engage in violence in the streets with people we disagree with?
I fear this is the sort of the path that many are regretfully taking us down. Shouldn’t we seek to understand and engage with people we disagree with? Wouldn’t that be more constructive?
Instead, it seems easier to attribute malicious motives to those we disagree with. This person has a different opinion than me on issue X, therefore they must be a bad person.
Entrenched In Our Tribes
People are treating politics like their favorite sports team and if their team does not win the debate or election they fall into a deep malaise, like a field goal from Scott Norwood drifting wide right. Apologies to Bills fans for stirring up that memory.
Shouldn’t we all be on the same team or even better all be individuals? Wouldn’t we all be better off as a society if next year we can go to Uncle John’s house and eat a Thanksgiving meal without erupting into a heated political debate?
Can’t we still be salient about our political opinions or passionate about a social issue that we care about and go about it in a constructive fashion that actually may influence or persuade someone? I do not view putting your finger in someone’s face and labeling them a bad person as a strong persuasion tactic.
Perspective From The Other Side
I would encourage everyone to listen to the other side if for nothing else to see where they are coming from. So in that spirit, I created a list of the 5 best conservative political podcasts.
These are my recommendations of shows that give a comprehensive, reasonable, sensible portrayal of where many of the leading conservatives come down on political issues.
If you are left-leaning, this will give you an idea where many of the positions and arguments of conservatives come from. If you are right-leaning, you should be enjoying these podcasts already.
Either way, I encourage everyone to listen to them to help get a better understanding of opinions from the right and to try and foster a better climate for open discourse.
These are the 5 Best Conservative Political Podcasts:
1. The Ben Shapiro Show
Ben Shapiro skyrocketed into conservative infamy when he notoriously went into the lion's den on Piers Morgan Tonight. This was right off of the heels of the Sandy Hook Massacre when espousing the virtues of gun rights and the Second Amendment was certainly not a popular opinion.
Piers Morgan hailing from Great Britain had taken a cause celeb of railing against gun violence and made it a personal crusade of his.
A few side notes:
I think it is a legitimate position to advocate for more gun laws in lieu of tragic incidents.
I do not think that Piers Morgan was a good choice to be the spokesperson, though.
For one, he is not an American citizen so it reeks of foreign elitism
Secondly, Piers Morgan is not that likable. Even his like-minded liberal contemporaries did not really care for Morgan that much at the time.
Shapiro knew that by appearing on Morgan’s show he would be subjected to tactics by Morgan that were aimed at appealing to angered emotions. Shapiro remained cool and collected and called out Morgan for what he was doing and essentially punched the bully right back in his face.
Shapiro famously retorted, “Honestly Piers, you kind of been a bully on this issue, because what you do, and I’ve seen it repeatedly on your show. What you tend to do is demonize people you differ with politically by standing on the graves of children of Sandy Hook.”
Morgan replied smugly, “How dare you?” Ben, calmly replied: “I’ve seen you do it repeatedly Piers.”
Ben Shapiro’s approach is that of a scholarly attorney. After all, Ben graduated from Harvard Law school and completed his undergraduate study in record time. One of the usual accusations that conservatives get from their liberal counterparts is that they are stupid. That one does not stick to Ben for obvious reasons.
The second attack conservatives get from liberals is that they are racist. Ben Shapiro is a devout Orthodox Jew and was the number one target of anti-semitism from the alt-right and I would imagine anti-semitic leftists as well.
So it is hard to wrap your head around how he could be a racist. Not to mention, I have never heard of Shapiro uttering anything hateful or malicious. All I hear from Ben Shapiro is well reasoned and well thought out political arguments.
Ben Shapiro calls it as he sees it. If a Republican like the House of Representative Steven King does or says something dishonorable or when Donald Trump says or does something he disagrees with, which is quite often, he will call that person out. Ben is consistent and credible with his praise and criticism.
Shapiro is a religious person devout to an ancient religion. Some of his religious beliefs seem antiquated to me in an ever-growing secular world. I do not agree with everything he says, especially in this realm and specifically on gay marriage.
I would challenge anyone, though, outside of the religious beliefs, to identify something offensive or vulgar that Ben Shapiro has said or done.
Shapiro takes on people he disagrees with and engages in what I would consider constructive debate. You may not agree with him, but I am not so sure why younger folks on college campuses are trying to stifle his speech.
2. Louder With Crowder
Steven Crowder started out as a comedian and has become a controversial conservative voice for young conservatives. His profile has been notoriously raised through the sensation of his “Change My Mind” videos on YouTube.
In a bold fashion, Crowder sets up a table in the middle of college campuses around the United States and takes mostly a contentious conservative position. Many conservatives would refer to the middle of a college campus as the belly of the beast.
In a show of bravado, he asks any person that walks by to have a civil conversation and if you disagree with his position to then change his mind. It is my opinion that these segments are designed to avoid the pervasive trolling or name calling that occurs online and instead engage in a constructive and respectful debate. This is a healthy form of debate that we are seeing less of in the social media landscape that is fueled by sound bites and dismissiveness.
There have been many iterations of the content that Steven Crowder produces. There has been a YouTube channel, a paid subscription offering through BlazeTV, and there has always been an audio podcast available as a constant output of his work.
Crowder’s comedic style is appealing to younger generations that are politically minded conservatives. His late night comedic format is inspired by contrarian minded folks like John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Samantha Bee.
The Daily Show for many folks in my generation was able to absorb political news and opinions through a comedic platform. This approach is informative and entertaining. Crowder frequently provokes the other side and is considered controversial. There is a lot of satire and comedy, but at the end of every episode, he brings it back in a serious fashion with a final monologue which underscores a final point.
In a recent episode of “Change My Mind” on the issue of abortion, a student heckled Crowder from the crowd. When the student is confronted by Crowder, he asks the activist why he is disrupting the conversation. The student replies in a dismissive and smug fashion that Crowder being a conservative engages in hate speech and therefore does not have the right to express his opinion.
I commend Crowder for at least attempting to reach out and have civil discourse in an attempt to improve upon the divisiveness that is going on in this country. Especially on college campuses where there has been a culture of outrage, speeches being shut down, and in some cases violence stemming from a group called Antifa.
Is Crowder sincere with reaching out to the other side and attempting to engage in constructive debate or is he merely trying to spew propaganda to young people who are insulated from conservative thought within an academic campus? The behavior by the student from the “Change My Mind” episode is certainly not an isolated case.
Number one conservative podcaster on our list, Ben Shapiro, has repeatedly been shouted down from speaking on college campuses and has been threatened against appearing, in multiple cases, for espousing conservative opinions on college campuses.
Again, the rationale here is that conservative speech is hate speech, hate speech causes people to commit violent acts, and violent acts are not the same thing as protected speech. Therefore, it is justified to engage in violent behavior and it is justified to stop that person from engaging in the speech in the first place.
There are a few things to unpack here. There is a presupposition and logical leap that speech that is considered hateful leads to inciting violence. The crux of the problem is the definition of hate speech and who gets to determine what is and what is not considered hate speech. If you do not agree with someone’s position on tax rates do you get to deem that “hate speech”?
There are a lot of dynamics going on here and this is clearly a complex issue. We need to define what is considered hate speech as a society, document specific examples, and apply that standard fairly and consistently.
3. Pragertopia - The Dennis Prager Show Podcast
Dennis Prager is a conservative talk show host that started the non-profit online social media entity called Prager University. It consists of short, five or so minute video clips on a wide variety of eclectic subjects ranging from the bombing of Hiroshima in World War II, the progressive tax rate system in the United States, inspiration from Mike Rowe, modern art, as well as many political based opinions that are mostly conservative.
I have personally watched a large quantity of these videos and they lean heavily from a conservative viewpoint. I have never heard or seen anything that was profane, abusive in language, bigoted, or anything for that matter that would be inappropriate for even the youngest of children. Yet, Google and YouTube have deemed a large quantity of the videos as offensive, restricted content. The only reason, I suspect, is that certain people take umbrage with the content of the videos from a political standpoint.
Like Shapiro, Prager is also an orthodox Jewish devotee. He has published many works on a variety of subjects including religion, politics, relationships, philosophy, and many more eclectic subject matters.
Dennis Prager has been broadcasting weekdays from his flagship station KRLA since 1982. The Dennis Prager radio show is also offered in a subscription podcast format known as Pragertopia, which is the formal entry from Prager cracking our best of rankings.
What I appreciate about Pragertopia is that not only does he tackle the hot button political issues and gives his opinion but he offers many more segments on his show that have nothing to do with politics such as the “male-female hour”, which offers relationship advice, and “the happiness hour”, which deals with the age-old philosophical subject of happiness and the meaning of life.
Dennis Prager is famous for coining the mantra that, “happiness is a moral obligation.” What he means by this is that regardless of whether you are truly “happy” at the moment, you have a moral obligation to have a pleasant demeanor to those around you. If you are outwardly miserable, you are having a negative impact on others which he argues is not right.
Furthermore, in a time in our political atmosphere where controversy and entertainment value seem to be held in higher regard than civility and constructive discourse, Dennis Prager rarely insults his guests or the callers that disagree with him. He is the most cordial, polite talk show host that I have ever listened to.
In addition, Dennis Prager is a master in scholarly logic and always backs up every assertion he makes with a logical supportive premise. I will concede that due to Dennis Prager’s ultra-conservative disposition and religious values, he carries himself with an “old-school” persona that may make younger folks with progressive values upset, especially from the feminist community.
He has been criticized as a hypocrite for saying that it is OK for a married man to ogle at other women because it shows his wife that he is still passionate about romance. I think this statement is often taken out of context but it has gotten him into trouble nonetheless.
Regardless, Prager University remains one of the most popular online tutorials for conservatives and is touted as being an antidote to those who feel that the university systems of today are heavily biased by professors and administrators from the left.
Many conservatives criticize universities of being heavily biased towards the left wing and that they are indoctrinating young people today with a radical left-wing ideology. Prager and comedian Adam Carolla are finishing up the production on a documentary called No Safe Spaces which is supposed to support this assertion.
These accusations do not come idly with criticism from the left. In fact, on many of the online platforms such as Twitter and YouTube, Prager University and Steven Crowder alike are being flagged as restricted content, de-monetized, de-boosted, and de-platformed for holding inflammatory views.
In a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Rogan hosted Jack Dorsey, Vijaya Gadde, and Tim Pool regarding people getting banned from Twitter. Jack Dorsey is the co-founder of Twitter and Vijaya Gadde is the global legal lead who acknowledged on the Rogan podcast that they have a code of conduct policy, especially in regards to misgendering, that aligns with a liberal viewpoint.
Tim Pool complained that Twitter takes punitive action on conservative speech much more frequently than it would on liberal-minded users who are engaging in similar behavior. Facebook has been accused of “deboosting” content that is considered conservative speech.
Dennis Prager and Steven Crowder, as just a few examples, are already filing lawsuits against these social media giants for not only restricting their speech but also affecting their livelihoods.
So what is going on here? Is this a matter of truly offensive and hateful speech being legitimately and justifiably censored from noble-minded social justice warriors? What is the definition of hate speech? And even if someone engages in a vile and horrific type of speech, doesn’t the first amendment protect that right? Is that no longer a held value of the left?
It is my opinion that folks are labeling speech that they politically disagree with as offensive speech as a tactic to shut down opposing political views. Even speech that does not even come close to offensive speech. Where do we draw the line?
Like Ben Shapiro routinely states, if there is a specific instance of something that is vulgar and offensive I will no doubt stand against that person and rail against injustices. There are plenty of folks that have said offensive things, such as U.S. Rep Steven King, Milo Yiannopoulos, Alex Jones, and others.
But I have been a long time listener of Ben Shapiro, Mark Levin, Dennis Prager, and I have never in thousands of hours of content have I heard them utter a single word that was not carefully and thoughtfully measured, respectful, and well reasoned. When someone labels any of those conservative pundits as engaging in offensive behavior it is simply not true.
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandies said in Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927):
“If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”
Let us expose the conservative voices we disagree with like Alex Jones and Steve King. If you do not like their inflammatory nature, expose the things they say and discredit them in the arena of social debate.
But with someone like popular conservative talk show host Mark Levin, the founder of the Landmark Legal Foundation, it may possibly be a fool's errand to debate the likes of him with his wealth of political knowledge.
4. The Mark Levin Show
Mark Levin is an attorney by trade and served in the justice department under the Reagan administration and at the time attorney general Ed Meese. The name Ed Meese may ring a bell because he was a central figure in the infamous Iran-Contra scandal that rocked the Reagan administration in the late 1980s.
Having worked closely with Ronald Reagan himself, Mark Levin is a preeminent conservative voice and is passionate about his adherence to the rule of law and strict literal interpretation of the Constitution. I have been listening to Mark Levin since his terrestrial radio days of 910 WABC in New York where he made his bones. Levin’s witty style is also combined with a provocative nature that has often inflamed his opposition.
Mark Levin, a regular on Fox News, has his own LevinTV show which previously headlined the internet channel CRTV and now carries onward on BlazeTV after a merger with another infamous conservative network TheBlaze.
Levin is a conservative talk show legend in the industry and has written a slew of political opinion books like Liberty and Tyranny, Plunder and Deceit, Men in Black, Ameritopia, and Rediscovering Americanism.
He is a legal expert in constitutional law and is an expert on supreme court cases. He is also an avid dog lover and animal rights advocate. He runs and supports many local animal charities and is an author to the book, Rescuing Sprite.
As a continuation on the running theme here, Mark Levin is a conservative voice and I have yet to hear a hateful bone in his body be expressed through his words. All of his opinions are well researched and rooted in substance.
5. The Candace Owens Show
Lastly, rounding out the 5 best conservative political podcasts is The Candace Owens Show. The Candace Owens Show is a spinoff from Dennis Prager and the Prager University platform. Candace Owens is the director of communications for the conservative advocacy group Turning Point USA.
Although Owens pro-Trump stance is a little disconcerting to me, I am recommending her because of her work with Prager University and the fact that Turning Point USA puts her on the front lines of a raging culture war that is taking place on social media to silence conservative voices. Owens represents a younger millennial conservative perspective, which is interesting for a demographic that seems to lean heavily in the other political direction.
The greatest part of the hearing today was when @RepJerryNadler simply **shrugs** after I catch him flat-out in a lie.— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) April 9, 2019
I have literally watched this clip and cannot stop laughing at the audacity of Democrats.
They just don’t even care when they’re caught lying. 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/V3WgujYHFh
Let Us Seek Common Ground
I started the premise of this article by noting that our society is divided and we need more avenues to bring opposing sides together to push the ball forward in making our country a continuously better place to live.
I understand that recommending conservative podcasts through a best of feature could be perceived as a divisive endeavor in of itself. Some of these hosts and the subject matter of the shows can stir emotions in others and make folks question certain beliefs held by conservatives.
There is also a concern typically expressed that conservative talk radio is itself mere propaganda that is brainwashing elements of society. I understand these arguments and criticisms. Ultimately my intention of this piece is to bring opposing sides together, suggest an openness to varying perspectives, and hopefully begin to hash out differences.
Like Dennis Prager always says, he prefers clarity over agreement. If we can boil down our positions to elements that we can objectively see, perhaps we can come to a better understanding of how to move forward in society.
If you are a conservative, these 5 best podcasts are a must listen. If you are more liberal-leaning or passionate about liberal politics, I suggest you stay open to listening to and hearing what the most outstanding conservatives voices are saying and arguing from the perceived other side.
Although I think we are at a tough place and time right now in this country, I think there is a large contingency of people that are thirsting for some common ground and consensus. The first step towards finding that common ground is being able to listen to each other. Hopefully, a longer term second step, is breaking down the perceptions of separate sides altogether.
Conservatives: Who is your favorite podcaster that cracked our feature and why?
Progressives: What are your thoughts on spending some time listening to a conservative podcasters from our feature?
We want to hear from you all. Please leave a comment.