Here's What Chelsea Handler And Tomi Lahren Should Debate At Politicon

If they want to help the country, there are worthy topics to discuss.

Chelsea Handler and Tomi Lahren are scheduled for a late July showdown in Pasadena at the third annual Politicon politics convention.

The event brings together politicians, pundits, and entertainers from both sides of the political spectrum. But there is a particular interest in a scheduled conversation between Handler — who is hosting the event — and Lahren. 

Handler and Lahren have some similarities: they've both hosted their own shows, they are viewed as outspoken critics of politicians, and neither hide their political leanings. Notably, they're also both women on the rise in a space previously dominated by men: Handler is a late-night talk show host and Lahren a rising star in conservative political punditry.

But they've got plenty of differences.


For one, Handler was an outspoken supporter of Hillary Clinton while Lahren has proudly supported President Donald Trump. Handler was also an organizer of the Women's March, which Lahren described as an event full of "crybabies" who wanted "free abortion." Handler was raised as a reformed Jew in New Jersey before moving to Los Angeles and pursuing a career in Hollywood when she was 19. Lahren grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota in a military family and was offered a job at One America News Network after graduating from University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

When they sit down together to hash out some differences, there will almost certainly be cameras rolling and Americans paying attention. For the good of the country and the state of political discourse, there's a lot Handler and Lahren could talk about. My hope is that they choose topics they can discuss with clarity, and avoid hot-button issues that — right now — should probably be left to experts (climate change and Russian interference in the election come to mind).

Here are three topics I hope to hear them debate:

1. Immigration

One of the most divisive yet fixable problems the country faces right now is immigration.

During Trump's campaign, he repeatedly spread falsehoods and cited misleading figures about crime committed by undocumented immigrants and voter fraud. In response, plenty of well-intentioned people on the left — including Handler — pushed back on Trump for his offensive rhetoric.

Lost in that conversation, though, is the fact that our immigration system does need to be fixed. Far too many people come into the United States without documentation to seek asylum, and are granted court dates a year or two down the road. Then, they simply disappear into the U.S. and begin life as undocumented immigrants. Currently, Pew estimates there are about 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, and there is no coherent plan about what we should do with them.

Handler and Lahren would be wise to discuss it. How can we give undocumented immigrants who are law-abiding and hard-working citizens a path to citizenship? How can we enforce the current laws without tearing families apart or leaving children without their parents? What policies would benefit both American workers and the people coming here to chase the American dream? These kinds of questions are ones worth addressing. 

2. Women's equality in the workplace

As two women who have succeeded professionally, I'd love to hear more about how they view gender equality and specifically women's equality in the workplace. While Handler has been vocal about criticizing the different ways women are treated in the United States, Lahren has adopted a different perspective.

"Yeah, some challenges might be a little greater for some women but let me tell ya — it feels a whole hell of a lot better to overcome those challenges than it does to dwell on them, complain about them or use them as an excuse to fall short," Lahren said on her show in March 

Lahren has aligned herself with conservative pundits like Ben Shapiro, who says the equal pay movement is based on a bogus pretense, but Handler has hosted an entire episode of her show on empowering women in Hollywood and equal pay.

"I had an Academy Award, no health insurance," she says in the episode.

What can women do to fight for equality? Are women equal already? How does each political party do its part in representing the interests of women? These are all question the two could — and should — dive into.

3. Health care reform

There is no bigger issue than health care happening at the legislative level right now. Senate Republicans are doing their best to repeal, replace, or significantly change the Affordable Care Act, a law they say is collapsing. But Democrats have so far managed to slow the process to a halt, and have also provided significant evidence that the current health care law is better for coverage and cost than the one Senate Republicans are proposing. 

It appears most Americans agree. Obamacare broached 50 percent approval ratings for the first time ever in June, and current polls have shown just 12 percent of Americans support the Senate's new bill that is intended to repeal and replace Obamacare. But nonetheless, problems with Obamacare persist

Then, of course, there's the issue of abortion and Planned Parenthood. The new Senate bill, commonly called Trumpcare, proposes defunding Planned Parenthood for a year — a move that could effectively shut down hundreds of Planned Parenthood outlets across the country.

If it were to pass, the bill would have a huge effect on women, and not just ones who visit Planned Parenthood. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the bill will result in insurers eliminating maternity coverage first when their new individual market plans are drawn. That means women who weren't insured would end up paying out-of-pocket for pregnancy, which costs about $10,000 in the United States

With time running out to pass the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently conceded they may have to fix Obamacare rather than repeal it. By the time Handler and Lahren face off at the end of July, the bill will be in its final stages of being passed — if it passes at all.

How will health care reform affect women? Who will benefit and who will be hurt by a new bill? Is it possible to fix Obamacare instead of repealing it? These are questions I'd love to hear the two debate.

At the end of the day, it's great to see Handler, Lahren and all the guests in attendance at Politicon coming together to talk about important issues. With any luck, their debate will do more to unite the country than divide it.

For more political commentary, you can follow @Ike_Saul on Twitter.


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