LOS ANGELES - In one corner, a young progressive who has gained a massive online following as an anchor on The Young Turks and streaming his political commentary on Twitch.
In the other corner, a conservative broadcasting legend who has been the #1 voice in LA drive time radio for more than 25 years.
Hasan Piker and John Kobylt couldn’t be more different. They are from different generations, believe in different political ideologies, and are at the forefront of different media platforms. But sometimes opposites attract, because when we put these men in a one-on-one debate, what we found was… agreement – a surprise to even the men themselves.
We kick things off with impeachment.
As Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) and his fellow Democratic House managers made their opening arguments in President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, have they presented any evidence or facts that have shifted public perception or have swayed any Senators?
“It’s really boring, it is hard to watch,” Kobylt said. “When I see Adam Schiff standing there with his eyes bugging out, waving his arms, I’m laughing, because – the whole thing is so futile, because they’re never going to remove him.”
Piker admitted he doesn’t care much about the trial either, saying the House Democrats flubbed their impeachment efforts. Rather than focus on Ukrainian aid, Piker says the House Democrats should have pursued articles pertaining to the emoluments clause, campaign finance violations, or obstruction of justice for the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
Stuck in the Senate chamber during the impeachment trial, serving as a juror, is Bernie Sanders.
Cast aside as a potential Democratic nominee after his 2019 heart attack, the Vermont Senator has seen a recent surge in the polls, placing first or second in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, California, and even nationally.
But with his rise in the polls, Sanders has also weathered a new wave of attacks from the Democratic establishment – from Senator Elizabeth Warren accusing him on alleging that a woman couldn’t be elected President, to Secretary Hillary Clinton claiming “Nobody likes him.”
Piker, a Sanders supporter, said Sanders’ rise mirrors the rise of then-Candidate Trump, as both men tapped into the anger of Americans. However, while Trump directed that anger at red herrings like immigration, Piker says Sanders is left-wing populist who will use that anger to advocate for the working class.
Piker also took issue with Clinton’s assertion that Sanders has never gotten anything done, saying Sanders has been the “Amendment King,” forcing Amazon to raise its minimum wage, and shifting the conversation towards important causes like Medicare For All.
Kobylt contends that shifting the conversation does not equal action.
From national elections to an issue at the top of mind for many Californians – homelessness.
Kobylt alleged that Mayor Garcetti and Governor Newsom have been complete failures when it comes to addressing the crisis on the streets of California. He urged the Trump administration and federal government to get involved immediately:
“It’s emergency time. Pretend this is a hurricane, a tornado, an earthquake. Send in the federal government, FEMA, every possible agency that has jurisdiction and money, and you set up instant camps to take the homeless to and start giving them treatment.”
Again, even to his own surprise, Piker agreed, adding that the situation in California is a humanitarian crisis. He cited a UN study that showed the conditions found on Skid Row were even more dire than those found in Syrian Refugee camps.
Where Piker and Kobylt did find disagreement: Medicare for All.
Piker argued that the American people are suffering, and if developing nations can offer better healthcare to their citizens, why can’t America?
Beyond just wondering how Medicare for All would be paid for, Koblyt said implementation was an issue of trust. Having seen how the VA, DMV and other government-run agencies operate, Kobylt says that most Americans don’t trust the government, and that serious progress is needed before the public would be willing to trust the government with their health as well.
Finally, from the issues that have been front and center, to the issues that WILL be front and center, Piker and Kobylt took part in a friendly game of predictions, laying out who they think will prove victorious at the upcoming Super Bowl, Oscars and Iowa Caucus.
They differed on Super Bowl and Oscar victors, but after a debate full of agreements, the two men found one more thing to agree on – that come February 3, Bernie Sanders will walk out of Iowa a winner.
"The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson" is California's only statewide political show. For airtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com