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A Trump Supporter Interviews a Biden Supporter | Wilk Wilkinson and Jordan Carmon with Ciaran O’Connor

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This week we put a Biden supporter in the hot seat. Wilk Wilkinson, a conservative Republican, interviews Jordan Carmon, a staunch Biden supporter, on everything from Hunter Biden to January 6th — showing us what’s possible when we bring good faith to our richest, most passionate disagreements. Listen/watch below, or on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Send us your feedback at media@braverangels.org.

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23 thoughts on “A Trump Supporter Interviews a Biden Supporter | Wilk Wilkinson and Jordan Carmon with Ciaran O’Connor”

  1. These guys, especially the Biden supporter, spout off lots of economic statistics that aren’t all even correct. Neither of them seems to understand the origins of the current inflation. At least the other speaker admits that he’s a “people person” rather than a numbers person.
    After watching about 20 minutes, I gave up. It just seemed to me an aimless exchange that was going nowhere. Both speakers were certainly civil with each other, but beyond that I don’t think my time is worth spending on broadcasts like this.
    Sorry I can’t be more complementary to the effort !

    1. The Trump supporter is getting his info from mid America. While what he’s seeing if valid, most Americans don’t live in the mid west. More people especially under served people live in cities. If he really wants to speak to the majority come to the city.

  2. These guys, especially the Biden supporter, spout off lots of economic statistics that aren’t all even correct. Neither of them seems to understand the origins of the current inflation. At least the other speaker admits that he’s a “people person” rather than a numbers person.
    After about watching about 20 minutes, I gave. It just seemed to me an aimless exchange that was going nowhere. Both speakers were certainly civil with each other, but beyond that I don’t think my time is worth spending on broadcasts like this.
    Sorry I can’t be more complementary to the effort !

  3. Interesting illustration of the two realities that we live in these days. Mr. Wilkinson appears to get all of his information and ideas from far right news sources, and seemed not to know much at all about the current work of congress under the Biden administration. Pushing back on one of his comments, I never put democratic election signs in my yard, because there is a history in my neighborhood of having them vandalized. Because of the threats of violence coming from the GOP, I am genuinely afraid to post election signs in my neighborhood. Also, for him to say that the actions on Jan 6 did not constitute a threat to democracy undermines my hope that all our citizens are all in on supporting our democratic institutions. Our country is in deep trouble.

    1. You are correct. If you are only listening to the choir behind you and they are singing loudly in your ear, it’s hard to hear the larger group of parishioners in front of you.

    2. How were actions on Jan 6th a threat to our democracy? The people breaking stuff at the Capitol or beating up police officers broke the law that day. They nor the people making their voices heard that day are no threat to our democratic republic. Our country is not that fragile.

  4. Marisabel Gouverneur

    The proTrump person’s position cannot be argued!
    His constant comments re not knowing and denying the the data and referring to his “valid” observations of “the man on the street” instructing his knowledge tells him that he uses cute remarks to defend his untutored knowledge.
    If research advisors accepted such arguments we would have surgeons who “feel” this is “perhaps” the best approach on how his mood is impacting him on the day of surgery!
    Give me a break!
    Nations can’t base policy on “what I see on the street” call it fact and remain a world leader!
    Data! Impartial data!
    Data! Facts not related to prejudices.
    How varied is his population of the man on the street!
    Biden is a liar!
    Trump is not!
    Really!
    Leading a nation is not a beauty contest and being able to pick trash out of the dumpster.
    You can’t:
    Ignore the dishonesty and not pay the price!

  5. A pair of super decent citizens/voters. Insightful.
    It was eye opening for me that the Trump supporter did not feel he knew enough about the Inflation Protection Act to comment on it. It opened my mind to the notion that for those who get their news and info from conservative sources likely didn’t hear much about this gigantic piece of legislation. And that in turn, is a reminder to me that I am not hearing about things I ought to also hear about, i.e., that prevalent media bias, coupled with listener/viewer bias to tune in to media that align with one’s hard-wired views.

  6. Did we learn anything other than:
    1. If ‘reds’ insist on staking their electoral chances on defending Trump, they’ll lose. They can’t help themselves even when they say “they don’t want to make it about Trump.
    2. Similarly ‘Blues’ don’t make much effort beyond attacking Trump.

    Both ‘sides’ avoid discussion of policy. Just personality.

    If ever there was a promotional video for the need to move beyond a two party hegemony, this is it.

    The country has to move beyond choosing between the lesser of two evils. It’s not clear to me how Braver Angels is facilitating that move.

  7. The issue here is that the Biden supporter believes in a “Big Daddy” pork-barrel government where everybody sends money into a big pool and those in power do “the nuts and bolts of government” to re-distribute that money “the best way”. He also seems to think that rule by popular majority is a good thing, but I seriously doubt he would want his household policies decided by popular vote if he happened to have 7 other household members.

    The Red Side guy is very ready to admit what a lot of Blue Side will not, which is that he knows pretty much nothing about what is in an 800 page bill that sends money to politicians’ friends. Everybody on the Blue side including this interviewee thinks they know everything about the economy, everything about the bills passed in congress, and everything about how giant unaccountable government programs should be run. The reality is, nobody in D.C. knows what someone in Los Angeles, New York, Truckee, or Calabria need to live a better or more productive life. The Red Side guy also is ready to admit that even at the State level, the State government tries to manage people who it both knows nothing about and whose interests are not represented by the “popular” vote from the dense metropolitan capital. Rarely will you ever see a Blue Side admit this.

    The bills in D.C. should be 10 pages or less.

    The Blue thinks he has a Divine Right from popular vote, and that his massaged statistical lies and his senile pay-to-play Blue presidents are the best thing ever. Nothing seems to be able to convince him otherwise.

    I would suspect that any non-Blue would also check out after hearing “FDR was the greatest president ever”. He was a disaster for the nation and for liberty. Almost as bad as Lincoln.

  8. It’s nice to hear people talk about these things calmly and personably. That said, I want to mention that this conversation was still a little frustrating to me because Wilk does something that I have noticed Trump supporters do quite often – when faced with research, statistics, etc. that might oppose his argument, he says that he doesn’t know enough about that particular example but maintains that he is right overall.
    It is very difficult to have a fair conversation with someone who does not come equally informed but who wishes to have their opinion weighed equally. I get that Wilk is more of a “people person” than a numbers guy or a researcher, and there’s no crime in that. But there are shortcomings that go with either. An information guy may become so reliant on facts and figures that he dismisses the experience of individuals who don’t fit the overall trends. But a people person may become so overreliant on his own experience with the people he knows personally that he fails to understand that that experience does not necessarily reflect the experience of many others. I think Wilk knows that not everyone’s experience is like his, but he seems to think that more are than is probably the case, and he seems flabbergasted that there could be anywhere near the number of folks who see things like Jordan does that there are. This is why research and statistics matter – it helps you get outside of your own bubble and understand when your experience doesn’t match others’. It also helps you engage in conversation on the same level.
    Going back to the bill they were talking about when this issue was brought up… how are they supposed to have a legitimate conversation about something when one is familiar with the details and the other isn’t? They can’t, not really. And I do understand that Wilk probably didn’t know that particular bill was going to come up in conversation, but my point is simply that Trump supporters in general (in my experience, anyway) often seem well-prepared only in terms of talking points and rarely seem to come prepared with actual documentation or at least familiarity with said documentation, which makes challenging them on their ideas almost impossible, because they get to simply claim ignorance and keep right on believing whatever they already believed. To be sure, people who are not Trump supporters do this too. Often. The difference, I guess is that while I have seen many non-Trump supporters who are informed in addition to the uninformed ones, I have rarely seen a Trump supporter who was not far more versed in talking points than actual research.
    Wilk had a lot of talking points in this, but the only transcript he seemed to be deeply familiar with was Biden’s recent speech. So it just doesn’t seem like a particularly fair conversation. I tend to be able to have civil conversations about controversial issues most of the time (unless it’s with close family, lol) but I think I would have been a bit aggravated if I were taking part in this conversation, even though Wilk did try his best to be nice and complimentary, simply because of the unevenness of the preparation and the seemingly inevitable result that follows that.

  9. Alexander Hannah

    Wilk claimed that the reality of Minnesota is that “the majority of the state is rural.” The MSP area contains 46-71% of the state’s population, depending on how you measure the city.

    I’m curious how each party feels about ranked choice voting. I believe it could be a valuable tool to reduce bipartisan politics.

    I’d like to see a survey set up for listeners to vote on the debate winner.

  10. Depolarization is serious business, and when we go public with podcasts it’s important to get them right. The questions we need to ask ourselves, before setting an agenda and/or participants are: “Will this podcast bring us closer together? Is the right subject? And, are these the right messengers?”

    Ideally, BA podcasts will involve some level of parity, where each side is so adequately prepared that there are no clear “winners” or “losers” on either side. When “our side” beats up “their side” we may have won the battle. But, are we losing the war? Are we more in tune with the “other side?” Are we more empathetic? Do we recognize and value the “person” inside, and not just being highly judgmental of their messaging? Have we learned something that helps us (as depolarizers) bridge the divide? Have we fortified our positions so we can be more confident in our approach to highly charged situations as a result of what just took place?

    If the answers to this are “no” then we should rethink how we stage these public debates. As much as I appreciate the brave individuals that throw it all out there and volunteer to represent their side (and, the harsh criticism), I would suggest that we preemptively query our membership to get a consensus of what subjects will be helpful to our mission. Then, allow both sides to set up separate zoom calls, huddle up, select questions, most anticipated answers, then find someone(s) willing to represent them. I believe this will get us more evenly matched (parity?) debates with topics that best align with our objectives.

    I admire what this group is doing. Would just like to use our valuable resources to achieve the greatest impact.

  11. Lisa Digiacomo

    Calling basic infrastructure improvements was, admittedly in the past, rife with pet projects. But to have this Trump supporter automatically pass off the Infrastructure Bill as prone to this shortcoming is, at best, an indication that Braver Angels could do better at finding debate leaders. I see this trend that Trump supporters on BA use this device to jump right around anything good in the opposing party, while allowing a tractor trailer worth of Republican immature, illegal and unpatriotic activity get passed off as nothing at all. Then they resort to “the dark state” whatever that is, and Hunter Biden BS – all non-starters in a viable debate. Can BA please step it up?

  12. Leslie Ann Relle

    As a person with a disability, this is this is the first time I have actually watched a podcast from Braver Angels and am not understanding why it took me so long to find out about this group. I most probably am leaning blue living in Oregon but was glad to see young Americans from differing perspectives discussing in a civil manner.

  13. My main impression of the conversation, what I mostly heard were 2 people politely talking past each other. I believe there were many missed opportunities for more meaning-making, not only for the participants and moderator, but also for listeners.

    As a mediator and educator on communication and sensemaking, I would love to share some feedback on how I believe the conversation might have been more meaningful and impactful.

    AND first….I’m deeply grateful for the work of Braver Angels, for the humility and transparency of the team in terms of requesting feedback, and for sharing negative feedback that they’ve received, demonstrating a willingness to learn. And also to appreciate how humbling and challenging this territory is and it takes real chops – so kudos to all of you. AND I’m no expert – I’m wanting to develop my own skills in hosting and participating in polarizing conversations and collective sensemaking around complex topics like immigration, climate, gun control, abortion, and all the other issues inside the culture wars. I’m just sharing my impressions because it’s easier sometimes to see possibilities from outside the moment, and so I hope they are supportive to your work.

    So here’s my feedback:

    1) I was not at all clear what the intention of the interviewer was at all. Was it simply:
    i) To learn and gain a deeper insight into the perspectives of someone he didn’t agree with?
    ii) To probe and engage more deeply into some of the points of disagreement and unpack the layers in a more nuanced way?

    If the latter was the intention, I would say it was far from achieved. What I saw instead was the interviewer start out with a couple of prepared questions, but then once he heard the answers, he almost immediately reverted politely back to his cherished talking points, and continued to consume a great deal of airtime doing this throughout the conversation – all the while giving lip service to some stale platitudes of ‘isn’t this great? We’re having a civil discourse!’ Or ‘Let’s agree to disagree on that one – but we can do it with respect.’ I saw no sign of curiosity from the interviewer or a willingness to wade into more nuanced territory.

    The interviewee at least acknowledged more explicitly the interviewer’s points and integrated them into a more multilayered picture than the interviewer seemed capable of, but the interviewer also far too often seemed to retreat politely into his cherished positions. Here is where I believe the session design and interventions of the moderator could have helped.

    2) A little more concrete and explicit framing at the front end about:
    a) The overarching purpose and intention of the conversation, plus
    b) The moderator’s role and intention for the conversation.
    c) The interviewer’s role and intention for the conversation.
    d) The interviewee’s role and intention for the conversation.

    Having each of these people state these at the beginning would have been clarifying and helpful. And these can then also form a basis of the ground rules for the interview and empowers the moderator to intervene when either seems to be straying from their role or intention.

    3) Coaching participants to listen and actually reflect back the essence of what they heard the other person say. This would go a long way in helping build a sense of dignifying each person’s position and maybe even pulling something new and less stale from the speaker. This doesn’t mean there isn’t room to challenge as well, but to introduce more of that as a norm as a starting point would be helpful. And if the participants are incapable of it (it does take skill), the moderator could do more of that.

    4) More active interventions on the part of the moderator – Especially to maintain focus and remind the interviewer of the purpose of the conversation and his stated role – to prevent him from going off on tangents, and essentially using the interview as a platform for his own ideas.

    5) Posing questions to each participant and the moderator at the end, as a harvest:
    a) What did you learn today that was new to you?
    b) What did you learn about the other person’s views that you didn’t know about before?
    c) Where did you discover that you agree with the other person where you previously thought was only disagreement?

    These are my thoughts! I know the interview is quite old by now, but I felt moved to share here.

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