In the St. Paul Issues Forum, the big topic in the forum, of late, has been the local Sheriff’s race. Its been a very long campaign and the Sheriff’s race has been an ongoing issue in the forum since last December, when the local police union voted to endorse Fletcher and the president of the union posted an explanation of the vote in the Issues Forum.
While the discussion has not always been pretty, I think that many participants might argue that they have gotten more information about the Sheriff’s race from our forum than from just about any other single source. Of course, others would argue that much of the information in the forum about the race is just political mud and of little value.
Here are a few of the highlights and lowlights:
Recently, the level of political rhetoric has increased. As a participant in the St. Paul Issues Forum, I’m very intersted in what we can learn from this race in terms of using our forums for “politics” vs. “issues.”
E-Democracy.Org got its start as an election orientated web site, designed to educate voters and generate discussion around the 1994 election. In fact, we tend to get the most attention for our election related events, such as our 2006 online Gubinatoral Debate.
We’ve always believed that issues and politics are intertwined in ways that cannot or should not easily be seperated. Yet, we get pleny of folks who find our forums “too political.” Some of our more recent forums have largely steered away from politics and tended to focus more on “issues.”
Clearly, there are lots of folks who hunger for a place to talk about issues without the partisan rhetoric found in most other venues. To what extent we can or should limit the use of local Issues Forums for “political” purposes is a question that we are bound to be grappling with in the months/years to come. It is particularly a topic of interest to some of our potential partners who work for local government. Local government officials often support the idea of promoting discussion on the issues, but have a strong interest in taking the politics out of the discussion (if that is possible).
Anyway, this is something that I’ve been thinking about for a while and am anxious to discuss with others, once we’ve gotten past this upcoming election.