The GOP Learns the Value of Moderation

julie marsh
Photo by Aimee Giese
I'm an equal-opportunity critic: I'll happily make fun of either party. But why do the Republicans make it so easy?

The latest initiative from the GOP, launched last week by the Republican House leadership, is the website "America Speaking Out." It's got good intentions and decent technology, but one aspect that's sorely lacking is moderation. Basically, it's turned into a virtual wall of graffiti -- much of it difficult to read (especially for those of us who value grammar, spelling and punctuation) and some of it absolutely hilarious.

According to Newsweek, "While many are obviously jokes, some walk a hard-to-detect line between satire and slightly unhinged." A few examples I found that made me chuckle:

  • "Stop listening to so-called "scientists" with their "facts" and "knowledge". Jesus didnt need science and neither do we."
  • "Keep Big Government out of my oil spill! With prices at the pump like they are these days, the government should not be interfering with private citizens' entrepreneurial initiative to harvest their own petroleum products directly off their own beaches."
  • "we should make english the official language of the US and stop spending tax dollars on translations for mexicans! if english is good enough for baby jesus, its good enough for americans."
  • "I think every food product NOT endorsed by Sarah Palin should carry a warning label stating we are ingesting socialism."
  • "Abolish fractions! They make my head hurt."

Despite attempts to organize ideas by category and topic, the site's a total mishmash. I don't know why they bothered creating an "Open Mic" category.

While I have to admit I spent a shameful amount of time this weekend giggling over the majority of suggestions, I realize the purpose of this site isn't entertainment. As Newsweek explained: "The idea is that citizens can speak up on these topics, vote up or down on each others' proposals, and the best thoughts will bubble to the top -- maybe even becoming part of the Republican platform come November."

Unfortunately, the creators of this site didn't think through the administration and maintenance of it. As anyone who's ever managed a successful website knows, they don't run themselves, even when content is generated by the community. In fact, a model such as "America Speaking Out" needs far more babysitting than a site with strict editorial publishing policies and procedures.

I know Republicans are categorically opposed to moderation of any sort, but in the case of "America Speaking Out" I'd advise them to rethink that stance.

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