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A National Treasure

The race for the American presidency is entering the final phase. More than ever, the outcome of this election will affect the whole world. If you are looking for an honest, funny and consistently insightful commentator of American politics, you should give the young New Yorker Kyle Kulinski a chance. I believe his YouTube show  „Secular Talk“  to be one of the best sources of information about the American political scene.

Kyle Kulinski’s strengths lie in his focus on policy, his sound understanding of the American political system and his uncanny ability to see through the empty rhetoric and the platitudes deployed by both Democrats and Republicans.  With the sensitivity of the talented satirist, he constantly ridicules the deception and pompousness so common in the current American political discourse. His delivery mixes straightforward analysis and commentary with stand-up style interludes and personal anecdotes.

He is extremely critical of the militarism so characteristic of American foreign policy, a position that might seem radical in the United States but is perfectly compatible with the mainstream of opinion in Germany.  Since his target audience is the younger segment of the population in United States, his videos are short and easy to understand even for a non-native viewers.

Unlike CNN or MSNBC  hosts, Kulinski doesn’t pretend to be impartial. He identifies as a social democrat and is one of the co-founders of the influential „Justice Democrats“,  the group the popular Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez comes out of.  To fully understand what his self-identification means, it’s important to keep in mind that the political spectrum in the United States differs significantly from its German counterpart.

From a German perspective, both the Democrats and the Republicans could be described as right-wing parties, especially when it comes to issues like health care, gun ownership and the use of military force. Bernie Sander’s „socialism“, for example, in some aspects would be a better fit for the „SPD“, the German social democrats,  than „Die Linke“, the actual socialist party represented in the German parliament.

Similarly, Kulinski’s version of  a „social democratic“ way of thinking is in some aspects more similar to the left wing of the FDP, the German liberal party. He argues for broad scale drug legalization, for example.  In keeping with the American mainstream,he supports the Second Amendment, i.e. the right to gun ownership, even though he does advocate for background checks and more stringent regulation.

The fact that the YouTube host is open about his political beliefs, what he calls his „ideology“, serves to make him  more credible and his commentary less biased.  While at CNN and MSNBC, the allegiance to the Democratic Party establishment is hidden behind a veneer of objectivity,  Kulinski makes a clear and honest distinction between his agenda and his analysis. Unlike most his mainstream media counterparts, he is even able to give President Trump credit when he deserves it.

The 32-year-old Kulinski is a great example of the beneficial effects social media can still have. Remember when that was what everybody talked about? The democratization of access, giving voice to voiceless, the Facebook revolutions? Seems a long time ago now, when the discourse, especially in the US,  has shifted to the dangers and downsides of the new media environment.

While there is a fair amount of hostility from Kulinski and other You Tubers towards mainstream media outlets like CNN, the YouTubers couldn’t exist without them. The majority of their material is drawn from mainstream media reporting and acts as a corrective to its shortcomings.

In the current apocalyptic atmosphere, „Secular Talk“ can serve as a reminder that there are many positive aspects to digitalization and the rise of social media. More than anything, commentators like Kyle Kulinski show that simplistic ideas about one form of media replacing another are inaccurate.

Check out the videos below and decide for yourself!

 

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Von Rene Lindner

Ich habe Freude an Ideen, am Lernen und am Vermitteln von Wissen. Die Arbeit in einem Feld, das mir die Chance gibt, zu tun was mir Freude bereitet und dabei anderen zu helfen zu wachsen und sich zu entwickeln, ist ein Privileg, das ich schätze. Die größte Freude für einen Lehrer ist zu erleben, wenn der Schüler ihn übertrifft, also jemand anderen zu helfen, intellektuell autonom und frei zu werden. Dies ist das Ziel, dem wir uns bei Language & Skills widmen.

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