The state of mainstream political discourse is broken -- only those backed by large amounts of money or a major party apparatus, truly have their voices heard. In order to feel relevant, people are forced to claim allegiance to the political party they disagree with least, as neither party's platform accurately reflects the beliefs and values of all of its members. News organizations often add to the problem by broadcasting those who already have a voice and by reinforcing the polarizing, us-vs-them mentality manifest in today's two-party system. The "discourse" has become one-way.
You see, our basic two party system, while brilliantly constructed to help balance power, has actually helped create a "choose your side" mentality. One side or the other! Ultimately, our increasingly polarized government representatives are abandoning the majority of us in the middle.
There are over 300 million people in this country with the power to affect policies though their ideas, thoughts and voting power. We simply need a way to crowd source those opinions, let everyone see, hear and comment on them and watch the popular sentiment on the toughest issues gain approvals with large numbers of constituents.
My background is in media and advertising. For the last several years, I have been an entrepreneur focused on the digital and social space. After hearing the same complaints about our political system again and again, I began to wonder if there is some way to address this issue with an entrepreneurial approach, using already existing online behaviors. The need is clear and we can't rely on big media companies, or the political establishment to figure out a way to amplify our voices. Interestingly enough, the notion of creating a forum to easily enable a large number of average people to speak and be heard would have seemed impossible only a few years ago.
The fact is that roughly one third of the US population is active on Facebook and Twitter every day. These are people who are reading, posting, commenting and uploading videos already. Political organizations and candidates have noticed this trend too and most of them now have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. That said, their 140 character tweets or Facebook posts are not the answer. I think its plain to see that we need to harness the new level of comfort people feel with social media, and create a place where real conversation can take place. This portal should allow the user to easily upload a video about their opinions on political, economic, and social issues and to find common ground with others. With an active user base and a robust debate, this portal can be the place that the established news media turn to for an instant pulse from the people they broadcast to while the current political powers can actually hear and see what the people they represent actually want. Seems like something worth creating.
So, we have started this process and have appropriately named it VOICES, which simply reflects the very thing that is being shut out from the political process. Our main objective is for users to have a destination where they can engage in constructive debate. The most persuasive arguments can rise in influence via a simple sliding bar to show how strongly other users agree or disagree with the views presented. The end game would be a mobilized, passionate, and organic base of users that can influence policy. And if government still doesn't hear them... we would provide a way for users to fundraise for their own campaigns. Rest assured, the establishment would start noticing at that point!
If you think this social media destination can be an important way for all of our voices to be heard, please consider funding us on Kickstarter.