The Daily Wire's Ben Shapiro debated The Young Turks' Ana Kasparian at the 37th Annual Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce dinner on Monday night. The two teamed up to give the keynote address at the Chamber of Commerce meeting, and what ensued was a fascinating conversation that, at its core, was about the future of education and trust in the American institution.

Kasparian is a progressive pundit, Shapiro a conservative one, and while in many ways they agree on the problems facing America, their ideas for how to address those problems are substantially opposed. Both look to history for an understanding of human nature and what we're capable of, and what changes could be made to better life moving forward. For Kasparian, this is exemplified by the pandemic, which showed workers that the work/life balance didn't have to be a total slog.

"I think a lot of the reasoning for not going back to the jobs that workers were previously working in, prior to the pandemic," Kasparian said, "has to do with the fact that hey you know, we've been staying home during the lockdown. Now we realize that spending time with our family, having a little free time for ourselves, being able to go out doors and do recreational things that's important to us."

Shapiro would likely agree. He recently moved his family, and his company, to places that facilitated a better quality of life than California, where he had been. But whereas Shapiro owns a media company, and made those changes available to employees who wanted to take the journey, Kasparian's answer is that people are "reimagining what their lives could be like if they take a little bit of power back in the workplace … They've just got to fight for it," she said. "They've got to organize, they've got to work together and not get distracted by manufacturing culture wars that we see play out in the media every day."

Shapiro noted the success of the American system, specifically the "governmental system that is capable of checking ambition with ambition, checks and balances, subsidiarity, the belief in in a Federalist system that allows for experimentation on the local level without attempting to cram a one size fits all solutions on everybody from the federal level."

"But that begins with reading history," Shapiro said, "it does begin with understanding some basic philosophies about how the United States works because it feels like the country is coming apart—it really does feel like that more and more everyday—that is because I think that there is a failure to agree on some of the central bases for the country so we're either going to have to clarify where the disagreements are or we're going to be in serious trouble as a country."

And that is what Shapiro and Kasparian set out to do. They were asked by the moderator from the PA Chamber of Commerce about a quote from American political scientist Samuel Huntington, who said in 1981 that "America is not a lie, it is a disappointment. But it can be a disappointment only because it is also a hope."

"Do you agree that that's a good description and would you also agree that the US is an exceptional country?" the moderator asked.

"To suggest that America is a disappointment, is to suggest that utopia is a real place," Shapiro said. "Whenever we say somebody is disappointing, we have to say, 'Compared to what? What, exactly are you shooting for? Compared to the ideal?' Of course, everybody's disappointment. Saints are disappointments compared to the ideal. But if what you're talking about is America as a whole is somehow disappointing compared to, for example, what other countries around the world stand for or what they have provided to their citizens or what they've provided to the globe? Then, by no means is America, at this point that America has a tremendous success story. In fact it's the greatest success story in world history."

Kasparian noted some of the failures that exist in the US, saying that there is, "more often than not," "a system that is rigged in favor of the powerful." Her examples included the initial confusion in regards to the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. She said that she had looked to them for guidance. "In the beginning of the pandemic," she said, "there were lawmakers in the Senate who engaged in this minimalizing, just completely minimizing the severity of the pandemic, to the point where I actually didn't think that COVID was a serious threat to me my health, my family's health."

Then she found out that senators likely knew more than they had initially let on, and this is just one example that led Kasparian to have a lack of trust in the legislature as well as in other American institutions. "That lack of trust has led to the situation that we're experiencing today with COVID, where people don't believe in what the CDC is telling them, where people question what journalists are reporting about. They just assume, because of the lies that have been told—because of the system being rigged against them—they just assume that they're being lied to. And now we find ourselves in this difficult position where we're trying to find solutions, we're trying to come together… but that's incredibly difficult to do when people don't trust in our institutions."

The beginning of where Americans learn to have trust in their institutions is in the educational system. And trust in the American educational system is not in high supply. Parents have taken the new information they learned about the educational system during the pandemic and gone back to their school boards to demand answers. Whether on critical race and gender theory, or intensive COVID restrictions and regulations, or simply from a desire for any kind of transparency and accountability, parents have tried to get answers from schools.

In response, the National School Boards Association has asked the federal government to consider the actions of unruly, concerned parents as "the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes." The Department of Justice has announced an investigation, per the NSBA's wishes. How could parents trust the education their children are receiving at the hands of people who wish to classify them as "domestic terrorists?" How could children learn to trust in American institutions when the two biggest influences in their lives, school and family, are at each others' throats?

Kasparian's take was that "At the end of the day we have to realize that we're all Americans, we all want the same thing. Fundamentally, we are the same. We might have different solutions, different ideas. Demonizing the other side doesn't help to accomplish any solutions."

She said that "It's important to be honest about what the real threats in society are."

"When I take a step back, and I look at where the country is right now. It's shameful, you know, we don't see each other as fellow Americans, we don't see each other as even fellow colleagues or workers in the workplace. Everyone has a political identity and that's it. And that's not helpful. I think the division in the country is incredibly embarrassing especially on a world stage, and we got to be more cognizant of that. As we engage in political discussions," Kasparian said.

Shapiro essentially agreed with this as a problem, and said that the culture wars currently raging in the US, and across the Western world, are worth paying attention to. "I'm not going to pretend that I think that the culture wars are irrelevant, I don't," Shapiro said. "I think that many of the culture wars are highly relevant, and not just relevant, I think that they may be indicative of sort of where the country is going … And so to pretend that the culture war either doesn't exist or that people are making it up in their imagination or that they are overestimating the impact of it on their life is to ignore how people are being treated ... on Facebook or on Twitter, in the workplace."

Shapiro said that these were part of the reasons that he and his family left California, which is a place where far-leftist shaming of moderates and conservatives is pretty common. He didn't want his children to be ostracized for their views, or silenced out of speaking or thinking for themselves as they grew up.

On much of this, Kasparian and Shapiro agreed. Neither of them are on board with the canceling of persons for past tweets, or holding figures from the past to contemporary standards of correctitude and judging them to the point of oblivion from that vantage point.

"I don't think that the culture wars are fake," Kasparian said. "I think the culture wars are taking place. The point that I'm trying to make is that oftentimes, whatever the culture war is of that moment is manufactured as a distraction."

For Kasparian, and a point where she and Shapiro entirely diverge, is on critical race theory. "A perfect example will be, you know, critical race theory, which is not taught in elementary schools, critical race theory is a graduate-level curriculum, and the fact that it's turned into some weird like 'Oh we need to ban critical race theory in elementary schools,' it's ridiculous and a massive distraction that I think is intentionally meant to be a distraction from what people are really feeling frustrated about the precariousness of their lives of their work lives."

"I obviously disagree with you about critical race theory," Shapiro said, "and whether it is taught in the public schools. Critical race theory, which I studied in law school, started off as a legal theory but it has an element of practice that was meant to be implemented, which is why it is taught in education schools as well and why, in elementary school, is a very boiled-down—Ibram X. Kendi is preaching a very boiled-down version of critical race theory and his book is assigned in elementary schools."

"The fact is that when you are having elementary school students who are having to check off boxes with regard to their race and then explain to each other, whether they are historically privileged or not in fourth and fifth grade, that's a very dumbed down version of critical race theory," Shapiro explained.

There are other examples, Shapiro continued. "This sort of game that gets played with regard to legal theories that end up being boiled-down intersectionality is another great example of this," he said. "Kimberly Crenshaw writes a very intelligent law review article about intersectionality and how you can be a member of more than one minority group and discriminated against in a variety of ways, and then that is used as the basis for a much broader move in American political life and then as soon as you point that out: 'Well that's not intersectionality.'"

He brought up Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who said in a recent debate that "it should not be parents who are making educational decisions for their children, it should be the people in education. That is a culture war issue that I think is of key importance to people who have kids," Shapiro said.

This wasn't dispositive for Kasparian. "I think that that's part of what leads to the lack of trust in our institutions. Yes, as a parent, you get to make decisions about which school you want your kids to go to if you're uncomfortable with the public school curriculum, you can take a look at private school options. If you don't want that you can homeschool. But … which parent gets to be the arbiter of what gets taught in any particular public school?"

And she doubted, thoroughly and definitively, that kids are learning from curriculum that is pedagogically backed in critical race theory. "I'm not really buying that they're learning about critical race theory or even a boiled down—I'm sure I'm positive that elementary schools are not learning about systemic racism, and even if they are, even if it's a boiled-down version of that learning about systemic racism is important. I think that that's something that's an issue in this country, that gets ignored or completely denied and I think that's wrong. I think that's what also leads to the division that we're experiencing."

"That's going to be the major cultural war issue, because the fact is that I as a parent believe—"

"You think there's no systemic racism?" Kasparian interrupted.

"I believe that it depends on how you define systemic racism. So if you're talking about legal regimens of racism, no. If you're talking about historical after-effects, of course. So I think there's a real problem with semantic overload to a lot of our political conversations and when people say 'systemic racism' sometimes what they mean by 'systemic racism' is 'history has consequences.' You can't have … 300 years of slavery, followed by Jim Crow, and and then not have after-effect, which of course is true. And sometimes what they mean is that every inequality in American public life is due to some systemic inequity that is currently taking place in the United States, which I think is absolutely 100 percent false."

The pair addressed issues of trust in other American institutions as well, from media to law enforcement, but of primary concern to both is the role of government in the American family. Government programs that interfere in the family structure abound, and more are on the way. Whether or not the government should take on the role of educator, child-minder, health care provider, or any other role typically fulfilled by a parent or someone of the parent's choosing, is an integral question.

If Americans have little faith in American institutions, then why would parents trust those institutions to educate, care for, or medicate their children? These matters are of lesser importance to those who are not parents, like Kasparian, who is able to judge a set of institutions from her own past experiences and not as they impact children in her care.

As more and more parents realize that the raising of their children is not something that should be outsourced, in large part because those who have been tasked with doing so are basically incompetent, the cultural divide will likely grow. Parents are being targeted, now by the FBI and the Biden administration, for speaking out against indoctrination, medicalization, and the governmental usurping of parental authority.

Kasparian and Shapiro were asked what gives them hope right now. For Kasparian, it is the workers, worker co-ops, and companies where the workers are "making decisions democratically within the workplace."

For Shapiro, it is that Americans are realizing that the federal government should not be the tool used to fix all the broken pieces. His concern, too, is that if we don't let Americans live according to their own dictates, "We are going to be locked in a never ending battle for supremacy and things are going to get very, very, very ugly before this is over."

The amassing of power at the federal level would be a huge problem, he said. "I think that the great threat to the country right now is the widely held belief that the solution is not at the local level and it's not at the state level that it is all at the federal level and what we ought to be arguing about each and every day is how much money and what sort of regulations we ought to pursue for 330 million people. The longer that continues, the more we're going to decide we don't actually want to be part of that body politic, that the rewards of being part of that body politic are not worth the risk of people you oppose taking control of that giant gun that is the government and pointing it at you. So I'm really hoping that some form of subsidiarity is going to return and that there will be some governmental figures who are willing to sort of reestablish the checks and balances and localism that were the hallmark of the Republic at the beginning and should be the hallmark of it again."

It's hard to get much more local than the family, and as parents take action to get more control over education, they may find that the tendrils of those policies go right back to the federal level, and need to be uprooted, and replanted, locally.