Debate Without Pain

Many Americans have commented that during the holiday season, political discussion was banned at the dinner table. Unfortunately, that was not the case with my family when we started discussing the 2016 election and my niece called Republicans crazy. Needless to say it went downhill from there. I started looking into why there can’t be good political discussions without resorting to bullying and name-calling. Interestingly an app called GetFilibuster supposedly will do just that. American Thinker interviewed the CEO, Derek Garnier about his new website.

Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson has the same attitude regarding civility. He recently stated, “You know, all you have to do is go to an article on the Internet and go to the comments section. You don’t get five comments down before people start calling each other names and acting like idiots… What happened to us? What happened to the civility that used to characterize our society? It’s one of the biggest problems that I think is threatening to tear our country apart. We get into our separate corners and we hate each other, we want to destroy those with whom we disagree.”

Derek agrees with Carson fully, which is why he has decided to create this app. He wants people to understand they need to make common-sense arguments without name-calling. “I want people to have a civil discussion between different political groups. We went the route of alias because it can track the user. Someone can hide behind an alias to voice an opinion, but there are user tools where they can be blocked or excluded by someone similar to a Facebook page.”

Unfortunately, with today’s political discourse are people really going to stick to the facts and say what they believe without resorting to hyperbolic statements? The skeptic in me says no, since people do and say things when there are no consequences for their words. Derek says the first version will not be policed and hateful comments will not be taken down; although people do have the option of blocking each other. He explained, “If we filter then whoever will make the decision will be walking a fine line.”

He described it as a political/social network where people can have an alias so that they are not targeted or embarrassed, or even fired for their political views. Look no further than when Curt Schilling, a former star Major League pitcher and now an analyst, was suspended by ESPN in August for tweeting, “"It's said only 5-10% of Muslims are extremists. In 1940, only 7% of Germans were Nazis. How'd that go? The math is staggering when you get to true #'s.” Derek is hoping people will be able to air their views without facing dire consequences like Schilling. 

People start off by going to the “main wall” where a question is posted. For example, ‘Are President Obama’s executive actions regarding gun control appropriate use or abuse of executive order privilege?’ Participants also have the ability to join political communities that consist of fellow minded people. This micro community of followers can then create their own mini-page by putting up other news stories or comments. He told American Thinker, “We want people to question and not believe what they are told or read. People should get as much information before they make any decision on any issue.”

In addition to the political discussion those using the app can send their posts to their default politicians, those determined by a zip code. Besides contacting a politician they can rate the job their representative is doing. Will politicians even care, considering many are what David Wellington, the author of The Cyclops Initiative, describes as, “having disdain for the American people. Many politicians don’t see their constituencies as human beings, but rather as numbers on a page. For career politicians, on both sides of the aisle, it’s about how much power they can gain and not about how to help people. Politicians seem to forget that they are supposed to represent the people.”

This idea of Derek's is very noble. He describes it as a combination of Twitter, Facebook, and messaging. The state of political affairs is depressing and time will tell if this app allows for political discussion that is civil and based on facts instead of resorting to just hateful comments.

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.