America Speaking Out
America Speaking Out is a website launched on May 25, 2010 by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. Ostensibly a project to solicit public opinion to craft a new Republican platform by September 2010, the site is described in a press release by Congressmen Kevin McCarthy and Peter Roskam as using “social media technologies”..."leading to the creation of an agenda based on conservative principles to get America back on track.” However, the Republicans behind the website also claimed the site is "not about candidates" and "not about an election". The site was paid for with U.S. taxpayer dollars through the Republican leadership office, which is not supposed to be used for partisan electioneering.
Users are allowed to submit ideas in five broad categories, which other users can then comment on and vote up or down:
- "American Prosperity: Providing Americans the Opportunities to Succeed"
- "Fiscal Accountability: Restoring Discipline and Respecting Your Hard Earned Dollars"
- "American Values: Protecting Those Things We Hold Dear"
- "National Security: Providing a Safe and Secure Nation"
- "Open Mic: Start Your own Debate, Speak Out"
Sub-categories within these five broad categories provide numerous examples of framing and begging the question. For example, under "American Values" the first sub-category is "Life: Share your thoughts about protecting the sanctity of human life". Under "National Security" the first sub-category is "Terrorism Abroad: Share your ideas about defeating extremists who threaten American security". Thus the outcome is already biased toward existing Republican agenda items such as the anti-abortion rights movement and the global war on terror.
Shortly after its launch, America Speaking Out briefly in late May and early June garnered some attention on the Internet because of numerous joke suggestions and apparent parodies being submitted. America Speaking Out has been described in the media as an empty charade and an example of inept Republican attempts at using social media backfiring on them.