When will a political talk show do more than turn us against each other and, instead, start constructively turning words into action? The answer is...Thursday, May 1 at 3PM EST/2PM CST/12PM PST when the Season Two premiere of Sean Astin's show, Vox Populi, dedicates the first hour of the show to exploring citizen engagement with RESULTS!
Astin calls his show"Vox Populi" and he's looking for an audience beyond the normal echo chambers listening to the common mud-slinging of American political media. For his first episode of his new season, he's partnering with RESULTS - a non-partisan, anti-poverty advocacy group with an organizational mission to create the public and political will to end poverty by empowering individuals to exercise their personal and political power for change. Ken Patterson, RESULTS Director of Global Grassroots Advocacy, will be on the show with volunteer advocates talking about their personal experiences moving from being politically occasionally interested citizens to powerful voices for positive change.
Let me tell you a little bit about Sean Astin. You can see the movies for which he is famous (Goonies, Rudy, Lord of the Rings trilogy) for yourself, so I won't go into that here except to say that his earnest sincerity that leaps off the screen is also readily apparent when you talk to him in person about something he's passionate about...and the thing I've been lucky to be chatting to him about lately is citizen engagement, something we both care deeply about. Astin is a parent of three daughters and is clearly very concerned about them as well as the issue of education. About citizenship, he believes that being a good citizen goes beyond simply voting and paying taxes, but also involves active conversation and participation in our democracy to help decide what happens to our tax money and our country.
At this point in his career, he wants to use his celebrity profile to create something different in modern American media. As a political talk show host, he's seeking to facilitate a safe place for everyday people to learn and talk about the hot topics of the day without being attacked. "There needs to be places in our public life where people can talk about things without being angry at each other," said Astin in a recent interview in the Huffington Post.
When meeting in Washington D.C. with RESULTS Executive Director Dr. Joanne Carter, he was exuberant and energetic about his project and brimming with curiosity about RESULTS' long experience with engaging both the public and members of Congress with civil discourse and action. His questions were rapid and intelligent as the vision for this upcoming show began to take shape.
|Sean Astin meets with RESULTS staff in Washington DC |
(left to right: Sean Astin, Exec Director Dr. Joanne Carter,
Senior Legislative Director John Fawcett,
and me - Grassroots Development Associate Cindy Levin)
Photo Credit: Linda Iroff
Bringing this back to the parenting perspective for a moment, imagine if our children went after each other with the illogical, argumentative viciousness that we see displayed regularly in political talk shows on radio or TV. I would swoop in with corrective parenting action immediately! Yet it seems to me that many adults are taking cues from these shows in how they discuss politics in real life and I think Astin has noticed this trend as well.
"Most people who you ask -- most people in America I've come across -- what do you think about politics, they say they don't want to talk about it," Astin said in the same Huffpost interview. "As soon as they open their mouth, they're attacked by somebody."We don't put up with our kids verbally attacking each other and we shouldn't be doing it ourselves. I feel like adults should live up to the same standards in dialogue we try to instill in pre-school students when they are sorting out their disagreements...state your issue clearly, listen to the other person, reach an agreement everyone can live with. Isn't it time we grown-ups fed ourselves a media diet of real people talking to each other respectfully? Does that not sound entertaining? Well, it's Sean Astin's job to make it entertaining. It's your job to call into the show and keep it respectful! If you tune in on Thursday, May 1 2PM-4PM CST, you'll also get the benefit of hearing about RESULTS, a great organization that can help you raise your own voice to make the world a better place for you and your children!
So, can Vox Populi get RESULTS? Yep. Astin will talk citizen engagement with this powerful advocacy organization. Can Sean Astin get the results he wants with his show...to move a body of followers "occasionally interested" in politics to be involved in their own democracy in a civil and respectful manner? Well, that - in part - depends on you! Tune in to TRadioV and tweet in questions with hashtag #raiseyourvox to help make his social experiment a success.
To stay on top of everything going on with Vox Populi: follow Sean on Twitter and at hashtag #raiseyourvox, like Vox on facebook, visit www.voxpopuliradio.com, and join in the broadcasts every Thursday from 2PM-4PM CST.
Full disclosure: I've been a RESULTS volunteer since 2008, I've served on the national board, and I currently work part-time on RESULTS fundraising staff...but this blog is not part of my job and opinions are entirely my own.