Progressive California Rep. Ro Khanna (D) surprisingly argued in favor of open political discourse with those of opposing views and sensibly noted that, rather than joining an echo chamber, civil debate helped identify “weaknesses in [his] point of view.”
Khanna, the former co-chair of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (D-VT) 2020 presidential campaign, sat down with Politico’s Ryan Lizza for the “Playbook Deep Dive” podcast where they discussed President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda. Despite consistently voting in favor of Biden’s policies, Khanna articulated one position that made sense.
“The point is,” the California lawmaker said of a recent interview with Neil Cavuto, “if I hadn’t gone on Fox News and I hadn’t subjected myself to that debate and I hadn’t probably lost the debate in that moment, I would never think of the counterarguments.”
Not only did Khanna contend that the discussion was beneficial, he went as far as to concede that he lost the debate with the Fox News host. “I was on Neil Cavuto with Fox News and he got the better of the argument. I did better…well, I will give myself an A-minus on the Fox News Sunday reports. Cavuto got the better of the argument,” he explained.
Referring to Cavuto as “one of the thoughtful anchors,” the representative went on to highlight the boon from these debates, saying, “But that’s the whole point of going on, right? I mean, now I’m much better armed in thinking about those arguments. So I can have a better shot at convincing the independents in my district because I now have a response.”
In one of several appearances on Fox News this week, Khanna had been arguing for a “windfall profit” tax on oil companies as part of a measure to address skyrocketing energy costs. If he hadn’t made the appearances, he acknowledged, “I’d never think of the weaknesses in my own point of view.”
In the short term, we have to increase oil production in order to bring down gas prices. In the long term, we need a moonshot for renewable energy to end our dependence on Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Iran. pic.twitter.com/bKB5MpNSTH
— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) April 4, 2022
“Short-term we have to increase oil production, there is no doubt,” Khanna argued as part of a “common sense” solution to energy woes with Maria Bartiromo. He did go on to petition for a “moonshot” style program on renewable energy, but even that could be reasonably grounded as opposed to the zealous push by the Biden administration to make an abrupt change without a lengthy and natural transition for the markets.
“I am of that view that you should go on not just because it’s the politically smart thing to do,” Khanna added to Lizza, “because it will help you test your ideas.”
However, his openness for debate evidently has a tolerance threshold, as he admitted he currently has an unwillingness to have a discussion with Tucker Carlson. “I haven’t gone on Tucker. I mean, recently. I went on early on. But, yeah, there are limits. Obviously, there are limits. To anything there are limits.”
“But you’re more inclined to go than not to go, if you get asked?” Lizza inquired.
“I did Ben Shapiro,” Khanna said to balance his apprehension with Carlson and added he is “more inclined to go than not go, partly because it forces you to have an engagement.”
The representative further added that he believed a willingness to participate in venues with those who don’t agree with you was part of the success of former Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
“I think if there’s one thing other than an aspirational vision that I would wish for people who share my same perspective on the policies, it is just to have a little bit less judgment, a little bit more humility,” he went on.
“You may not have the whole truth,” Khanna concluded. “You may not have the whole perspective. Don’t be so self-assured of your own moral superiority.”
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