So I’d like to encourage comments on this thread with your ideas on where to take this project, as well as give you the basic thoughts I have:
Where We Are Now
First, I have found that in 2010 so far, although the meme surfaces from time to time, the general internet enthusiasm for the meme has waned viagra. And I think that’s okay. But it does mean that it may be hard to get our message out free cialis. With no pending litigation, there’s no compelling story to follow – uh, and let me say, I *like* not having pending litigation out there.
However, I do think that there is a need out there – there is energy out there that is unfocused and unorganized. Just like the Tea Partiers found energy for their ideas (and I do have to give them respect for their organization, even if I pretty much disagree with nearly everything I’ve heard any of them stand for), I think there is room for an organization of that energy.
What energy ? The frustration of our broken government, and specifically the aspect of our political process made up of political pundits that are spouting untruths and hurtful misinformation that have ripped our political dialogue to shreds.
Now, I think we have a number of problems with the political situation – from lobbyists basically controlling the legislation in Washington, to the apathy of most citizens, even to antiquated rules and methods and laws that basically worked well when the nation was young, but no longer work well in our modern time. But in addition to those – and more – problems, we have the problem of public speakers (i.e. media – radio, tv, blogs, newspapers, etc. – people who have audiences) who are abusing their position for personal gain at the expense of our nation’s health.
Where I’m Coming From
Now, let me step back for a moment and explain where I’m coming from, because we all have our own viewpoints, and we all view the world through our own sets of beliefs:
I am definitely a liberal, meaning that when you look at what the consensus of conservatives stand for, and what the consensus of liberals stand for, I tend to strongly agree with the liberals. Thus, I identify myself as a liberal. Of course, it’s more complicated than that:
For example, the contentious (and tiresome) debate about abortion: One way to summarize my belief is that I wish abortions never ever happened, but believe that sometimes they are the preferred solution to a narrow set of problems; but that a pregnant woman should always have the right to an abortion (and not face intimidation). I would go so far as to say that I’m pro-life first, and pro-choice second, except that might confuse many people; and some might argue that I’m pro-choice first, and pro-life second. Fair enough. My point is that things are more complex than easy labels make them out to be.
I tend to identify with the Democrats as a natural response to my generally liberal outlook. However, overall, I dislike both parties as a whole; and I think the two-party system is hurting us. However, that’s ultimately outside the scope of the gb1990 project. Well, at least for now.
A Short Foray Into The Two Party System
One note on the two-party system. For those that haven’t taken an American Government class, it may not be immediately obvious *why* we have a two-party system, and why that’s not likely to change. In fact, it is nearly guaranteed that we will not see three viable political parties, and the reason is simple: Single-member-districts, winner-takes-all.
What does that mean?
In every political district, there is one single winner. Some systems have multiple representatives from each district, so positions are awarded to parties based on the percentage of the votes. But in our system, there is one single winner.
Why is that important?
The only way to have any representation whatsoever for your party is to win districts. How do you win districts? By having the largest share of the votes.
So what happens when Party A has about 45% support, Party B has about 30%, and Party C has about 25%?
If you’re Party A, you’re happy – you’re going to win easily, election after election (given the same support, of course) – even though you have a minority of the voters.
If you’re Party B or C, you will never ever win. So what can you do? Well, you can try to team up and compromise with one of the other parties; Party A has little reason to compromise, except that they know the other two parties will try to team up if they don’t compromise with one of them…
Hopefully you can fill in the rest of the gaps and see why we will tend to have only two viable parties.
If one party ever did take away enough support to be viable; it would probably either die out, or end up replacing one of the existing parties.
Why Is This Important?
Because to make political change, I think we have to pick our battles. I think starting a political party is not going to work for us – look at the Tea Party. I think the Tea Party is going to take away support from the Republicans; and if the Tea Partiers have their greatest success – getting representation – it will push out Republicans; and at the most extreme, we will be a nation of Tea Partiers and Democrats, along with the rest of the fringe parties.
I don’t think becoming a political party is the right choice for us. It certainly doesn’t mesh with the history of the meme or the history of this project.
Why not tackle some of the other problems?
Which Problems To Attack?
Apathy, Laws, Lobbyists, pundits
I addressed four basic problems as examples a few paragraphs ago. To summarize, they are as follows:
- Antiquated Laws and Systems
- Lobbyists in Control
- Voter Apathy
- Problematic Public Speakers
The first problem was addressed above – our two-party system. There’s more to it than that – but the end result is that I think it’s not where we should go at this time.
The second problem is, at least for now, just too big for us to tackle; and really, I see it as being related to the first problem. So for now, let us set it aside.
The third problem, however, is something we can indirectly help with, perhaps: The gb1990 meme stirred up a *huge* amount of interest; and if we can arouse some of that interest, I think it will benefit this project; but also, perhaps draw more people to vote – to realize that their vote is important, and makes a difference.
The fourth problem, however, is at the heart of what we want to do. Glenn Beck was merely the first of many that we need to address. And we still need to point out our disagreements with him; but we need to start holding accountable everyone who we find is misinforming the public.
What Exists That’s Close To What We Want To Do?
There are some sites out there that are somewhat related to what we want to accomplish. For example, Politifact.com investigates what public speakers say, and tries to come up with an objective rating of the truth of their statements.
I think this is very compatible with what we want to do: Point out the inaccuracies of public speakers.
I think we need to focus on non-politicians, for a start – people to whom folks listen to find out what’s going on out there. These people end up as gatekeepers for truth for their listeners/watchers/readers.
On site I would like to take some inspiration from, as far as the methodology, is the Huffington Post. It’s just one example, and what I refer to most is the concept of allowing many authors to generate posts; finding the cream of the crop and letting that cream rise to the top.
What Niche Should We Fill?
By the way, that’s pronounced “neesh”, not “nitch”. Just so you know.
I think we need to watch the public speakers – like Politifact watches politicians (and various others in the public eye) – and point out when they spread misinformation.
I think we need to open this project up to many voices that want to contribute.
I think we should sort through our own content that we generate, and make sure the best of it makes our front page; and encourage each other to try and be as objective as we can; find sources for information; to try and be as fair as possible.
Notice I didn’t say “balanced”. There’s two reasons why:
- Obviously, that specific phrase has been taken over successfully by a particular organization, much to the phrase’s detriment.
- I believe “balance”, as it is modernly used, can easily be a stumbling block to fairness.
The term “balance”, as it has become, means that for a particular subject, you find two people on opposite sides and give them equal time.
For some things, that’s absolutely great. For others, it’s absolutely terrible.
Let me take an easy stand here: Birthers, if you were previously interested in this project, I’m sorry, but you’ll probably want to move on.
The state of Hawaii has – *twice* – revealed that the birth certificate of Obama is legit. They have pretty much gone to every length they can legally go to assuage the concerns about his place of birth. But, when faced with the clear evidence, some find it easier to delude themselves with silly conspiracies.
So how does this relate to balance? Well, if you want to write or talk on this issue, and you want to have the modern concept of balance, you’ll have two guests or interviews: One with a birther, and one with a non-birther. And most typically, the host or interviewer or author will not actually come down on either’s side, but merely present arguments from both. That’s balance?
I don’t want my media telling me what to believe – but this is the other side of that particular coin. Presenting one ridiculous outlook as being equal to the logical outlook is harmful.
So I don’t think we want to be balanced – not in that sense.
What do we want to be?
I do think we want to be fair; as unbiased as possible; focused on truth.
There’s room for debate on a number of topics. But I think we can reach a reasonable consensus on others. I think we need to attack the unreasonable fearmongering and hate and misinformation that’s being spewed.
One critical note: Even though I currently personally believe that we will find many more conservative/Republican problems, I do not want this project to be partisan.
We should not be afraid to go after anyone, no matter their political viewpoint.
One liberal/Democrat name that came up in some prior discussion was Michael Moore. I think he’s a good example to discuss without going into too much detail.
Personally, I mostly have enjoyed the movies he’s made that I’ve watched. I don’t agree with everything he says, by any means; but I tend to be somewhere on his general end of the conservative-liberal spectrum, so of course I’m going to tend to like him more than, say, Beck.
But I do find some of his techniques to be problematic. I might even go so far as to say that perhaps there’s some misinformation there that should be looked at – like Beck.
So let’s use him as an example of someone who is *not* like Beck that I still think we need to look at.
In other words: gb1990 should not be seen as anti-Republican or anti-conservative. However, the flip side is that we will *not* try to keep a 50/50 divide between liberals and conservatives that we go after. The flip side of the flip side is that we *will* go after everyone we believe should be the target of our attention.
Where to start? Blog?
I will be setting up this WordPress installation so that I can easily create sub-blogs. As a practical matter, they will exist on subdomains – for example, I will probably set up isaac.gb1990.com for myself.
I will gather a team of people, as we grow, that will become community leaders; we will come up with good ways of trying to figure out how to judge which content should be highlighted in the main stream on gb1990.com itself.
So, the first place to start is the blog.
Where we go from there is up to you and the ideas we have collectively.
For now, I will refer to the targets of our attention as “subjects”; simply because the word can refer to topics as well as individuals or organizations.
One simple way of dealing with subjects will be to use the tagging system to identify a set of posts that relate to a subject. There will be other ways later.
I have a plug-in for WordPress that will allow a multi-site administrator to amend a subdomain blog’s post such that it appears on the main blog. This will be the first method for drawing extra attention to the best of the content that we generate.
What to post?
Some things come to mind:
- Opinion-pieces – think blog posts or editorials – that point out misinformation
- News-pieces – subject to more critical review – be inspired by news outlets and, for example, Wikipedia (i.e. sources for statements) – that also point out misinformation
- Embed Youtube videos
- Link to helpful websites and webpages
These are inspirations and starting points.
How to Get Involved?
Do you want control of a subdomain blog? Send me an email or link to some examples of things you’ve written – maybe you already have a blog or something. You can leave a comment or email me.
Feel free to comment on articles with information, opinions, support, et cetera. Leads are definitely good things.
Do you have an audience? Feel free to share the project. We’re small right now, so linking and posting articles about your articles about us aren’t a fair reply yet – but with time, hopefully will be.
As we grow, we will certainly need leaders of various sorts – to help others improve the quality of their research and writing; to help move content around; as we grow even larger, perhaps to customize WordPress or roll our own system. Perhaps we will look at real-world events – protests, rallies, whatever.
There will always be room for your ideas.
So, after all of that – what do you think? Where do you want to take this? What do you think we should do? How do you think we should organize?
I’ve presented my ideas as a place to start from. It’s up to you to become involved and develop the consensus that will move us forward.