Since the last 3DC post, a lot of time has been spent online searching for more people who might relate to what 3DC is trying to do, and maybe even sign on to help in some way. Slowly, connections are being made and relationships fostered.
One of the most surprising finds, albeit not necessarily for a wealth of activist contacts, is a community on the website Reddit.com called “ModeratePolitics”. Like some before me and some since, I was attracted to this community (called a “subreddit”) by its name. I was already active in another Reddit community called “Centrist”, thinking it would be the place to find people most likely to relate to what 3DC is trying to do. But ModeratePolitics was different.
The Reddit community Centrist is a place for people who identify themselves as centrist and for people curious about the various definitions and traits of Centrism. On the other hand, while its name understandably evokes the idea that it is a community for political moderates, centrists, etc., the “moderate” in ModeratePolitics actually refers to how the community operates and how its members interact. With this distinction, ModeratePolitics demonstrates one of the best operational examples of one of the most basic goals of the 3DC concept.
The welcoming to the ModeratePolitics community is this:
“This IS NOT a politically moderate subreddit! It IS a political subreddit for moderately expressed opinions. If you are looking for civility, moderation and tolerance come on in!”
Indeed, you do not need to be or identify as politically or socially moderate (adjective) to participate. The usernames, topics, and conversations of those within the community definitely reflect this. Instead, you need to know how to moderate (verb) how you participate. And a general idea of how to help diplomatically moderate others might be a bonus.
Although this may change, being the middle of another contentious and divisive election season, there aren’t a lot of written rules at ModeratePolitics, especially ones intended to pound in the idea of keeping the conversations reasonable and respectful. The discussions can be vigorous, and frustrating. Throughout, the community is almost unbelievably well self-policed, backed by a half-dozen conscientious but seemingly laissez faire-minded (and presumably underworked) moderators. There is of course the subjective up vote/down vote system, which is standard throughout the website, but the strength of the ModeratePolitics community is in the much more nuanced layers of control, especially self-control, held by its users.
It is a dynamic that American politics and, increasingly, American civic discourse are lacking. And it is with a similar type of operation that 3DC aims to build an organization and movement to help address the issues we face by first addressing how we approach the discussions.
In the ModeratePolitics model it is the inherent intention of users to be civil, tolerant, and respectful that sets the tone for what goes on inside; it’s right there on the community’s main page. Similarly, the first goal of 3DC is to “repurpose the word ‘Centrist’ in the political and social context to define reasonable, collaborative, and pragmatic people organized to foster broad and comprehensive conversations and work towards sensible workable solutions, regardless of issue.”
With the need to push an agenda, win an argument, or belittle an opponent gone (or at least for some users, placed in the back seat) participants at ModeratePolitics can better focus on substantive, diverse conversations. Similarly, with the need to push a party platform/agenda, win an argument, or belittle an opponent gone, participants in the 3DC model can concentrate on substantive and diverse conversations towards broad-based policies and problem-solving. In either case, participants may be confident that while bad ideas may be voiced, criticized, and even belittled, they will be heard. They may also be confident that such criticism and possible belittling will, for the most part, be directed at the idea and the arguments for or against, instead of directed at anyone personally who participates in good faith.
Have you forgotten what respectful political and civic discourse looks like? Have you been forced into small groups of likeminded people where your input is respected as long as you only voice the opinions that meet the expectations of each group? Are you curious about the 3DC model and want to see an operational example of what it could look like? Go to ModeratePolitics and, “come on in!”