I had a conversation with a good friend the other day and it got me thinking about the importance of exposing ourselves to ideas we don’t necessarily agree with. In our personal relationships, we’re used to not agreeing about everything. We don’t cancel our friends and family because they support a different political candidate or had the temerity to dislike The Rise of Skywalker.
Yet, if you only exposed yourself to social media, you would be forgiven for assuming that is exactly how interpersonal relationships work. Allow me to fill you in on some of the details of our conversation. My friend, let’s call her Diana, is a huge member of the #yanggang and she’s adamant that Andrew Yang is not only the best Democratic candidate, but the only one who’s capable of uniting the country.
Confirmation bias is a powerful phenomenon and I think it’s essential for anyone who aspires to be a rational free thinker to be aware of and do everything they can to combat the propensity to disregard views that don’t agree with their own. Here are two examples:
I watch Bill Maher every week even though I often disagree with his takes and he regularly has on right wing pundits and politicians.
I listen to Michael Moore’s new podcast Rumble despite him being a hard core Bernie supporter while I’m definitely leaning towards Bailey, I mean Elizabeth, Warren as my top choice.
What both Michael Moore and Bill Maher have in common is that they are genuine in their points of view. They aren’t spouting propaganda to support an agenda. You can trust that even if you disagree with a particular idea of theirs, they are sincere in their belief.
That’s important. I’m not suggesting people expose themselves to Rush Limbaugh or Tucker Carlson, because they are intellectually dishonest buffoons hell-bent on perpetuating right wing talking points. How do I know this? Because it’s easy enough to find dozens, if not hundreds, of instances when they contradict themselves to make their point du jour. Which brings me back to Diana and Andrew Yang. When I mentioned I had been listening to Michael Moore, she immediately pointed out that she didn’t like him anymore because of a tweet he made about Yang. You can read it below:
You can dig into the tweet’s comments or search for Michael Moore and Andrew Yang on Twitter and find a lot of very divisive statements both for and against each of them. If you are a Bernie or Michael Moore supporter, it’s easy to take this clip of a Yang interview and dismiss him as a fraud. If you are a Yang supporter, you can disregard this criticism as motivated by media bias or blind loyalty to Bernie.
I am here to say that I support Micael Moore, AND Bernie Sanders, AND Andrew Yang, AND Elizabeth Warren. This isn’t a zero sum game. I don’t expect to agree with my political candidate 100% of the time, just like a husband and a wife shouldn’t expect to.
Perhaps Yang was caught off guard by the question and didn’t express his point the way he intended. Maybe Michael Moore saw a clip of an interview, and failed to fully inform himself of Yang’s platform before jumping to a conclusion. Or maybe this is one issue where they don’t see eye to eye. That needs to be okay. It’s okay to make mistakes or have divergent opinions. It doesn’t mean that we have to completely reject someone.
Michael Moore has dedicated his entire career to fighting for the working class and standing up to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians. Andrew Yang has built a platform on fighting for a fairer system that works for everyone, not just the rich, and deals with technology and economics in an honest and realistic way.
These two people have a lot more in common than they have differences. If you like one, why not listen to what the other has to say? If they disagree about something, instead of using it as an excuse to dismiss one of them all together, maybe it’s an opportunity to examine what you really believe in and why.
It’s all about learning and growth. Let’s all be better people.