Extra Credits: Politics

This week, we offer a handy guide to making your voice heard in U.S. politics (with special guest)!

Show Notes:

Would you like James to come speak at your school or organization?

For info, contact us at: kate@extra-credits.net

Audio Version:

Recent Comments:

  • Of course.. this community is populated by Liberals and Socialists who think America is the great devil ruled by corporate elites behind the facade of fake democracy. :|

    I, for one, welcome our new corporate overlords. :D

  • I say truly get involved!

    First step; register to vote!

    During High School and Community College I was involved in my city's Democratic Club and volunteered for many campaigns. I was invited to California's Democratic State Convention and had the opportunity to run for a delegate spot to the National Convention. I was able to meet politicians from the other side of the aisle, all great insightful information. The people I enjoyed talking to the most were the office workers from both sides, they told me how they called local companies and leader to fix problems such as sewage leaks or road repairs. Even though their impact wasn't big on the nation, it was to the community.

    It is possible to run for office, I was called by a club leader running for the school board who wanted to know more about how I transferred from my Community College to University. I was basically a consultant form him meeting with him about three times about student life and transfer students. really felt that this person was going to make schools better in my community.

    I'll admit I've been discouraged at one point or another, particularly when money is involved. Money is a necessary part of getting a message out (still Citizens United needs to be overturned).

    Thanks EC for starting a conversation about gamers in politics. Technology, internet neutrality, privacy, security, technology at schools, SOPA/CISPA, piracy, and file sharing are all issues that are severely under represented in political circles.


  • Of course.. this community is populated by Liberals and Socialists who think America is the great devil ruled by corporate elites behind the facade of fake democracy. :|

    It must be real easy to claim that some rogue political ideology is the reason people feel the way they do about the economy or our government. It's not because they have become disenfranchised with the current system which clearly isn't working in its intended manner, it's because they've been infected by the evil libhurl socialismz.

    I'm not straying on the liberal side myself, but I'm not the one trying to divide such a complicated political discussion down such broad, polarizing lines.

  • Hi all,

    I'm a long time watcher of Extra Credits but a first time poster.

    I really enjoyed this episode of Extra Credits primarily because I'm all about getting involved with politics. And by "getting involved," I mean writing letters and encouraging others to do so.

    All of my gamer pals are super ignorant about politics, needing people like me to explain stuff, like SOPA, and what it means for them.

    Nice going with this episode. I doubt any of my pals watch it, but for others like them that do, it seems a very helpful topic.

  • Apologies for thread necromancy.

    I had a thought which may be of interest to Rep. Jared Polis. I may try this on Joyce Beatty but she tends to be more focused on welfare and poverty issues. I figured Polis might have more luck since he seems to be personally invested in this sort of thing.

    Most people these days seem to have a nagging agoraphobia that prevents our going outside and purposefully putting ourselves in a room full of strangers on a day that we have little knowledge of its scheduling. Unless we have an agenda to push, we never gather to do anything with the intent of meaningful discourse. The problem with town hall meanings is that they are slow events in a dedicated location lacking other services and take up a chunk of your day on a schedule you can't control. Most importantly the discourse is directed much like the room is: you all face the same direction - as in a classroom - listening to the professor give his lecture.

    House.gov and Senate.gov suffer from a similar format. In browsing these sites, it feels more like you're researching for a history assignment than being involved in anything. All the content is unidirectional, fractured, and as unwieldy as a card catalog. That's all well and good for an archive, but what the people need is to speak up.

    All this has an effect on the psychology of the constituents confronted with it (Dr. Michael Wesch of Kansas State University has a lot to say on this subject). It can silence people who have an opinion differing from others. It makes us think that we can only talk to the representative and not to eachother. There are no arguments, no links to external research, no time for depth or to arrive at a consensus. We are not an audience, we are a community. It's time we start acting like one.

    My Proposal

    To create a government-sponsored online forum that functions like a mix between a 17th century coffeehouse and the Plebeian Council (not as a legislative force but as a check for the one which exists). It would be a town hall that never adjourns, available 24/7. The best local example I can think of is Columbus Underground, however, sites like this are so fractured and niched that they have no effect on local politics.

    The most successful and best-designed websites (Facebook, DeviantART, Amazon...Minecraftforum.net) have shown us that users will prefer one monolithic hangout to the personal webpages of the 90s. We internet users are notoriously lazy and deterred by inconvenience. Going from Danny's profile to Jenny's profile on Facebook is totally doable. But if I have to go to Google+ to talk to Mark, well, sorry Mark...I'll text you on your birthday. Yes, it's a bit like coaxing a cat into a bath, but the current system isn't working. At all. It shows when most people don't think the government has their interests in mind.

    A unified site will need to be organized and accessible to the average internet user. Probably using or based on a platform like phpBB. One roadblock here is that any one person is always a member of 7 bizarrely overlapping districts: National House/Senate, State House/Senate, State, County, and Municipality (City/Village/Township). There will need to be some kind of classification scheme that requires the least number of clicks to get from one forum to another, so that all district types feel unified to each user. There will probably need to be a main hierarchy page, but with registered users having their accounts bound to individual district forums by address (legal names and addresses will need to be a requirement to verify citizenship and to promote civility and honesty. Obviously, addresses will be private). Also, the Judicial branch is ignored because Juries function adequately and the courts are now experimenting with using cameras.

    The main district forum will then have subforums relevant to the nature of that district:
    [list:2me3ca16][*:2me3ca16]Announcements - primarily for events irl and livestreams I would stress the potential importance of livestreams that allow comments.[/*:m:2me3ca16]
    [*:2me3ca16]Legislation/Ordinances - the state of drafts, upcoming votes, and archives [/*:m:2me3ca16][*:2me3ca16]Projects - Committee work or State/Municipal public works [/*:m:2me3ca16][*:2me3ca16]Polls - suggestions/feedback [/*:m:2me3ca16][*:2me3ca16]Media - for appearances in the news and such [/*:m:2me3ca16][*:2me3ca16]General Discussion [/*:m:2me3ca16][*:2me3ca16]A link to their official website[/*:m:2me3ca16][/list:u:2me3ca16] The top Administrator of the district forum would probably be a Caseworker on Congressional staff or an equivalent in other branches, with volunteer moderators as usual. The Congressman/Governor/City Council Members will need a special status, like game developers on other sites use to highlight their activity and posts.

    Lastly, the site will need to become as popular as We The People on whitehouse.gov if it is to have any significance. Our congressmen and federal officials will need to be invested in this thing because, let's face it, their youtube and facebook accounts are very, very sad excuses for social networking. They can do better. And we can do better by being there with them. If the White House can draw us in with a big ineffective petition platform, have our Congress - the people who are supposed to REPRESENT us - use a platform that has made communities (particularly gaming communities) thrive for over a decade. Forums allow us to look at both past and present, and use our judgement to make short quips as well as walls of text. A poor teenager can go to the library and exercise the same clout as a journalist on their laptop. Could the whole thing turn out to be an ineffective expense? Maybe, I can't say for sure. But there's no possible way it could top the failure of the NSA's Trailblazer project.

    To those who made it through that Wall of Text: Congratulations! You found the MacGuffin!

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