May 26, 2022 • 1HR 7M

Ep. 81: 360 Degrees of America | Roifield Brown

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At Counterweight, we believe political polarisation is the meta-problem we must resolve so we can protect liberal democracy.
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This conversation ends this podcast where it started off… A progressive and a conservative walk into a bar… and have a drink… share a laugh… engage in dialogue.

The conversation isn’t ending, but starting in June, Hold my Drink will fully integrate with Counterweight to become the new Counterweight podcast. I’ll probably still show up with a drink and we have an exciting line-up of guests. I’ll continue to share the new podcast here (so don’t go anywhere!), on the weeks when I’m hosting or writing, so you, my lovely listeners, won’t miss a beat. And thank you for all the support over the past two years; the next few years will be even more exciting.

But I digress… This week I’m joined by Roifield Brown, a self-proclaimed “leftie” and global citizen. Roifield and I met about a year back in a Clubhouse conversation. We didn’t always agree, and that is precisely why we wanted to have the conversation again, and hopefully again, and again. Maybe he’ll even join me as a guest on the new Counterweight podcast.

In our conversation we take a full 360 degree look at the United States. He really got me thinking with this question: When did World War II start? For the United States it started in 1941 after the attack on Pearl Harbor. That’s not when it started for other countries. Our view of the war is particular to our history.

Roifield notes that the stories that the majority population in America tells itself about its founding are legit, and they are (mostly). But they are just one view. It’s not a bad view per se, but it’s not the full story.

As we cluster more and more on one side of the political spectrum or another, or into one identity group or another, our vision narrows. Confirmation bias sets in and we become more confident of the “correct” view or the “correct” story, and as a result divisions grow and our country suffers.

What is crazy is that it really is no longer about politics and policy opinions, but just about choosing sides. Geoffrey Cohen illustrates this in a 2003 study. As Liliana Mason explains:

In an experiment in which [Cohen] varied the policies of the two parties, liberals expressed support for a harsh welfare program and conservatives expressed support for a lavish welfare program when they were told that their ingroup party supported the policy. Notably, these respondents did not believe that their position had been influenced by their party affiliation.

This motivated reasoning is heightened when we cluster into increasingly homogeneous groups. Our beliefs and values diminish as our group allegiance expands.

There is a way out of this, but it means we must step outside of our bubbles. The scariest thing about doing so isn’t engaging with the “other”, I’ve found, it’s the threat of losing group identity. It’s what Brene Brown calls, “Braving the Wilderness.” It’s what Wink and I call, becoming a dissident.

We can’t speak to everyone who looks or thinks differently than we do. But we can all speak to someone.

It requires an embrace of the nuance and complexity of life that stands outside the confined chambers of 280 characters, slogans, rigid ideologies and identities into a multidimensional 360 degree perspective. It is the courage to listen to another view with humility and curiosity. As Irshad Manji says to “stand your ground and create common ground.”

I know that Hold my Drink has been that place for me. I hope maybe it has been for you too. We will continue to add a dissident voice and to be a “counterweight” to ideological conformity and rigid authority as we move forward with the new podcast.

In the Hold my Drink — navigating culture with a chaser of civility, and Counterweight podcast, Episode 81, I speak with professed “leftie” and global citizen, Roifield Brown. We knew we had different views, and that delighted rather than detracted us from discussion. We take a nuanced view of America (and a peek at the UK too) - a 360 degree view - and explore ideas like individuality, community, agency and where they intersect. All discussed with a chaser of civility, of course, and an orange beer.

Hold my Drink welcomes all people with all kinds of beverages to join us as we explore the truths of a chaotic and beautiful world, together.

Jen’s Podcast Resources:

Uncivil Agreement, Liliana Mason

Braving the Wilderness, Brene Brown

Don’t Label Me, Irshad Manji

Bob’s Mini Lectures: Confirmation Bias, YouTube, Robert Wright

Bob’s Mini Lectures: Attribution Error, YouTube, Robert Wright

Roifield Brown is an experienced podcaster, media strategist and host leader, with a track record of creating and activating campaigns and shows for a wide range of categories, including politics, history, culture and entertainment. He has been working successfully in media for 30 years, across television, radio and the internet as a creator and business owner. He has an intuitive understanding of how to create programming and content with the ability to engage listeners and create a community, and has a record of helping companies enhance and grow their media properties to diverse audiences.