Debunking Courses Offered At PragerU Lesson 14—“Three Ways To Fix America”
Written By: Anton Sawyer
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I can promise you that if I ever turned in an article to my publisher that was written in the way this video is presented, I would not only have been fired, but it would be nearly impossible for me to work anywhere writing nonfiction. In fact, I would say that PragerU's course “Three Ways To Fix America” would be the perfect clinic for those who want a job in persuasive/nonfiction writing on how NOT to do it. The most important question that anyone who writes about real-world topics (political or otherwise) has to answer is: “why.” And then after the first “why,” you keep drilling down until you get to whatever the systemic issue is that’s causing the argument to be made in the first place. PragerU and its presenter Dave Rubin clearly never got that memo when it comes to legitimizing their claim that they’ve figured out the three things which will fix America. Not once do they answer this crucial question.
I understand that this video is attempting to stay in the realm of philosophy… until it isn’t. When it comes to philosophy, there are no real “right” or “wrong” answers; it’s about differing perceptions that have been molded by life experiences and the educational upbringing of those in the debate. These arguments are then put together with counterarguments to come up with a resolution that would be most beneficial to all. You would never read of Plato telling Polemarchus to go screw himself because Plato’s concept of a utopian society is the only one that could work, and anyone who disagrees with him hates Greece. But because PragerU is trying to push these ideals as being completely factual, the video has to be treated that way. Unsurprisingly, there are no facts or quantitative analyses which bolster their claims at all. What makes it even worse is that you can tell they aren’t even trying; we are to just look at the anecdotes they provide and know that they are enough and shouldn’t be questioned too deeply.
Sadly for them, I’m not cut from that cloth and I will be examining each statement, along with how they avoided the question of why in almost every case. By the end of the video you will definitely be given three different ways how to fix America … you just won’t have any idea how they will actually go about doing it.
In an attempt to maintain complete transparency, all research and statistical fact-checking for all articles can be found in the bibliography linked here.
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To keep things clear, all statements from the video will be in bold, while all my responses will be in italics.
“THREE WAYS TO FIX AMERICA”
Today’s presenter is Dave Rubin. Host of “The Rubin Report” and author of “Don’t Burn This Country.”
Something ain’t right and we all know it. Are we just going to give up on the greatest country in the history of the world? Or are we going to fight for freedom and a thriving future? They always tell us we’re at a once-in-a-lifetime pivotal moment. But this time, they’re actually right. You know it. I know it. You know that I know it. I know that you know it. And they know we all know it. So what are we going to do about it? Well, I’ve got a few ideas …
Though a bit of a word salad, he’s not wrong. Ever since the 2000 presidential election, we have constantly heard that “this is the most important election ever,” or “this is a pivotal moment for our nation.” Depending on what aspect of America you’re looking at, it’s an entirely possible warning that is heard often.
First off, be an individualist. The American Heritage Dictionary defines an individualist as “one that asserts individuality by independence of thought and action.” If that sounds self-centered, it is. But why is that bad? Everything in your life starts with you—your attitude, how you project yourself to the world, whether you take responsibility for your own actions. The founders of America sought to create a government whose primary purpose was to protect the freedom of the individual. After that, as far as George, Ben, and Tom were concerned, you were on your own.
I can see what he means by being an individualist. The constitution says we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Because what makes me happy may not be the same for someone else, then individualism is going to play a big part in the way we act. This can also lead to things like toxic individualism. I think the way certain people used the concept of individualism during the Covid-19 epidemic is a great example of how it can go toxic. When outbreaks would rise in any given area, we would see mask mandates. Once those went into effect, toxic individualism was surely to follow. People who, taking their own needs and desires above all else, refused to do what was necessary in attempting to help their fellow man from getting sick and dying. News stories of Americans in grocery stores yelling or becoming physically violent towards those telling them they needed to put on a mask would dot the headline landscape. Also, because there are no examples given when it comes to the specifics of the individualism he’s referring to, it removes the question of “why will this individualism will work on a grand scale?”
Nobody saw this more clearly than the 19th-century French writer, Alexis de Tocqueville. He came to America to see what all the commotion was about and was absolutely blown away. This new American democracy—what he called “the equality of conditions”—was not merely a new way to govern, he realized, but a new way to live. For de Tocqueville, American individualism was not about being self-centered, but about being self-reliant.
One moment we’re told that this political ideology IS self-centered, and then we’re told that it ISN’T self-centered, but rather self-reliance. I’m sorry, but there is a huge difference between the two. Let’s take a look at someone who is poor as an example. A person who is poor, but self-reliant, will get a job or figure out a way to gain financial security through means that is based on what they are capable of doing. Someone who is self-centered and poor will find a way to get the money or gains from another person as they think the world owes them that. Again, no matter which definition or term PragerU is trying to use, we are still never answered the question as to “why will this self-centered/self-reliant strategy benefit the nation as a whole, thereby fixing America?”
Government can’t guarantee your happiness, but it should guarantee your right to pursue it. This is the only way to make progress on a national level and still be authentically inclusive. Because where true freedom exists there will be individualism, and where individualism exists there will be true freedom. But being an individualist is just the start. You must also be a family. There are lots of ways to measure the strength of a society. But family has to be at the top of the list. This hit me very deeply one night during Jordan Peterson’s worldwide lecture tour in 2019, which I hosted. Jordan and I were leaving the theatre after our show in Dublin, Ireland. Two men ran towards us. Wiping tears from their eyes, they told us their story. They were a father and son. Several years before, they had a huge falling out. On their own personal timelines, they had both bought Jordan’s book “12 Rules for Life,” and began fixing up their lives. Separately they had attended the show. As thousands of people exited the theatre, they saw each other in the crowd, and right then and there, after so much heartache, they embraced and made amends. The family bond was restored. So how important is family? According to a 2019 American Enterprise Institute survey which asked participants to rank attributes of the American Dream, a good family life ranked number two, right behind freedom of choice. It’s no surprise. It’s within the nurturing bonds of family that we learn to deal with the world.
First off, what does being self-centered have anything to do with inclusivity? Thinking the world revolves around you is not a frame of mind that allows for the inclusion of other thoughts, ideas, or perspectives. To be honest, the only reason that word was used has to do with misdirecting those who support the idea of individualism as being something that allows for a flourishing society of different opinions.
Philosophically speaking, having a strong family unit could definitely be something that would allow a nation to strengthen on a core level. Of course, the anecdote Rubin provides is related to how a specific family was able to strengthen through shared ideals, but the story never relates to how their event could be utilized on a grand, nationwide basis. The story never answers the question “why would the strengthening of the family unit itself impact our society in such a way as to fix it?” Like, is there a direct correlation in some states that show lower crime rates when more couples with children remain married? We never know because we are never given any analysis.
Once you have your head screwed on straight and you’ve made things right with your family, then you’re ready to move on to the next level of real social improvement; be a community. There are all kinds of communities. It’s your church or your synagogue. It’s your neighbors. It’s the girls you meet for brunch or the guys you play basketball with. It’s the group of people that know you and care about you, and you care about them. Next to breathing and maybe a couple of other things, I don’t know what’s more essential than that.
This folly in this section comes from the fact that Rubin assumes every community is by default “good.” But what if your community is tied to the KKK? According to the advice we’ve been given so far, so long as you follow your family and join a community, then you are well on your way to helping fix America; even if that family/community espouses hate crimes and murder based on someone’s skin color.
When George Bailey’s brother toasts George at the end of the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” [stating] “to the richest man in town,” we know exactly what he’s talking about—George’s community. Are you catching the theme here? When individuals are healthier, the family is healthier, and in turn, so is society. It’s obvious, we know it. Which is why those on the left oppose all of it—every piece.
I have to admit that the lack of self-awareness when it comes to health and our society during this presentation was surprising. Of course, if an individual is healthier, they will contribute more to the world they live in. And a healthier group of people can then raise their society exponentially. In fact, if this were my video, I would put overhauling the entire American healthcare system as the top way to fix America. A 2018 report from the Integrated Benefits Institute (a nonprofit health and productivity research organization) showed that US employers paid nearly $880 billion in health care benefits for employees and dependents. However, illness-related lost productivity costs them another $530 billion per year which amounts to 60 cents for every dollar employers spend on health care benefits. Employees covered for sick time, workers' compensation, disability, and family and medical leave benefits are absent about 893 million days due to illness and incur an estimated 527 million lost workdays due to impaired performance. With how many arguments PragerU has made over the years promoting healthcare as being a corporate issue and not a right of the citizen, his assertion about health may be accurate but is utterly hypocritical.
Also, to say that every single liberal opposes having a strong family unit is so absurd. Speaking from experience, I can promise that the gay couple I adopted my daughter to when I was 19 was VERY MUCH in support of a strong family unit; it was one of the main reasons they wanted to adopt. So, sorry Mr. Rubin, I know of at least two liberals that don’t oppose a strong familial connection.
They despise the free-thinking individual, they denigrate the family, and they have no true understanding of community. For the left, your identity group—your skin color, your sexual preference—determines who you are and how you think. Defy this identity at your peril. If you’re black and conservative, well, as one elderly gentleman put it, “you ain’t black.”
Yep, the LGBTQ+ … “group” has no sense of community. The leaders and organizers of the various pride parades and events held each year are the complete opposite of what a bonded community looks like. And the millions that have come together for women’s rights marches and the like aren’t a community with strong ties at all? Nope, they are all just men-haters who happened to all show up at the same place at the same time with the same ideologies—all by coincidence.
Also, to say that something like skin color and sexual preference are ALL of the determining factors in molding your morals and ideologies as a person is such a narrow view of the world. And if that were the case, then it’s a simple fix: have your core ideals and identity be based on a book that was written during the Iron Age in which an invisible man that lives in the sky once killed every living person on Earth because he was displeased, yet he loves you—just so long as you stringently follow a list of rules that he devised, and any deviation will send you to eternal torture. That seems like a much better option.
Before they scrubbed it from their website, Black Lives Matter bragged that they were all about deconstructing the “nuclear family”—you know, mom, dad, and the kids. As for community, it’s too independent and too traditional.
I love when PragerU gives an example of something that may have happened once without giving any context or further explanation. For example, I could say something like “You know, before it was removed in the year 2000, on the official website for the Catholic Church it was written that God ordained pedophilia.” If you reference things that no longer exist (that is, if they even existed in the first place) with zero context, you can say whatever and just assume everyone should accept it as fact because they technically don’t have proof that you’re wrong. Also, it appears Rubin doesn’t understand the concept of an oxymoron. If he did, then he would realize that being “too independent” and “too traditional” don’t go together—it’s hard to fight for something which stands against the status quo all while being too much a part of the status quo.
The left demands that you be part of the collective—a hive mind where everyone thinks the same. Anyone outside of the hive mind must be shouted down, harassed, or canceled. Is that the world you want to be a part of? How about this instead? Be an individualist. Be a member of a family. Be part of a community. You know what that sounds like to me? America. I’m Dave Rubin, author of “Don’t Burn This Country,” for Prager University—end credits.
I think the conservatives do want to be a part of that world Dave. Between 1977 and 2015 there have been eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, and 186 arsons targeting abortion clinics and providers across the United States, all done because of the hive mind ideal brought forth from the same little Iron Age tome I mentioned earlier—all done by conservatives. Harassment from the hive mind is a big part of the GOP calling card it seems.
The information and presentation of everything in this video reminded me of the time when the Trump administration was trying to repeal and replace Obamacare, only to have him say in a statement “Nobody knew that healthcare was so complicated.” To those of us who don’t follow the simple-minded arguments brought about by PragerU, we ALL knew it was complicated. But PragerU has never been about intellectual engagement, rather they are more focused on simplicity of message without clouding the waters with too much detail. Let me explain.
In January 2020, there were an estimated 580,466 people who were homeless. In 2019 66.5% of all bankruptcies in America were tied to medical issues. According to PragerU, all of these problems will disappear once everyone becomes self-centered, is born (as that is the only requirement to being in a family), and joins their community (no matter what that community is tied to). That’s it. Homelessness and bankruptcy will fly away in the winds of time. All of the talking points in this course are designed to oversimplify complex issues, thereby emboldening those who watch it into thinking they’ve got things figured out when they haven’t got a clue. They used family and community as cornerstones to their solution. This will work for the Republicans who agree that both of those elements are the end-all-be-all to morality. Yet, not once did Rubin or Prager point to evidence that any of these ideas are working and would work nationally if they were implemented to the highest degree. Not once did they point to any examples of quantifiable statistics that could convince anyone who’s paying attention that these “fixes” would even stand a chance. And not once was an example given that would answer any kind of a “why” question; most importantly, “why will this work?”
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