Engage America is a win-win. It highlights key articles and commentary for participants, giving them the chance to elevate their own arguments and the tone of the civic discourse on the whole. The incentives encourage users to participate in ongoing debates, rather than just making hit-and-run comments on the articles they read. And who doesn’t like getting the occasional gift card? Personally, I would (and do) loudly argue my case for free, but ours is an incentive economy.
But Engage America’s mission to advance the dialogue won’t be effective if everyone doesn’t come to the table. An energetic debate requires the diverse viewpoints of Republicans, Democrats, and independents. The core beliefs of EA should be just as agreeable to those on the center-left as they are to those on the center-right. It’s the particulars that need hammering out. Our economy requires sustained growth. Our deficit needs to be cut. But these are anodyne platitudes. What specific policy changes should we advocate for in order to make those goals a reality?
I have joined that broader discussion via Engage America. I have had a fun time testing my mettle in the comments sections of websites outside of my political comfort zone. And as a bonus, I’ve used the proceeds from my gift cards to purchase a Kindle. In fact, I have been the undisputed leader in pulling in prizes from EA for a few months now. This could be a good thing for me; some high-dollar travel vouchers are promised to those who lead at the end of a year. But for the sake of this innovative new technology — and more importantly, for the sake of the national discourse — I hope that many of you will join me, whatever your political stripes.
Bill Zeiser is a communications consultant living in New York City and a 2012 Publius Fellow of the Claremont Institute. Follow him on Twitter @BillZeiser.