Your Way to Take Part in the Presidential Debate: #TextTalk2016

Even the most optimistic among us are likely feeling disengaged and fatigued during this election season. Tomorrow night, during the final Trump-Clinton debate, we invite you to join a virtual event to discuss the issues that matter most.

Those in the U.S. and all over the world can take part in the event called #TextTalk2016, a group discussion with real-time, text-enabled polling questions and discussion prompts. #TextTalk2016 is an alternative opportunity to talk politics and values with friends and family and without debate-style provocation. It is made possible through Baruch College, which is hosting a on-campus event for the debate.

Anyone can participate in #TextTalk2016. All you need are a few friends, family members or colleagues and a cell phone. Interested? Meet wherever you want at any time on October 19th and text “BEGIN” to 89800. You can join during your lunch break at work or over the dinner table with your family.

Each member of the group will receive polling questions, prompts and discussion suggestions via text message. Results from the polling questions will be tabulated almost instantly for everyone to see and react to.

#TextTalk2016 intends to encourage dialogue that is personally meaningful, that stimulates thinking about actions you want to take, and that is part of a much larger conversation on the present and future of the country.

How the #TextTalk2016 Process Works

  • Form into groups of 3 or 4 people, then text “BEGIN” to 89800.
  • Receive a welcome text, followed quickly by a few polling questions* about the campaign, such as “How likely are you to vote this November? A) Very likely, B) Somewhat likely, C) Not likely”
  • Each participant texts a response and receives a reply with the next question.
  • Participants also get texts with links that show the aggregated results of the polling in real time.
  • Groups are asked to consider some discussion guidelines, such as: “1. Listen w/ respect, 2. It’s OK to disagree but don’t make it personal, 3. What’s said here stays here. Is this OK?”
  • Participants then receive the first of several prompts, including: “How well does the presidential campaign reflect the issues you care most about? (Take 15 mins to discuss in groups & reply NEXT to go on.)”
  • The next set of questions deal with attitudes on the campaign and ideas for improving our political process.
  • The entire conversation takes about one hour.

* Note: Responses are anonymous and results are reported in the aggregate.

We hope to hear your stories of how #TextTalk2016 started a conversation that deviated from the current polarized discussions. Spread the world about the event online with some of these tweets:
Change the #Election2016 conversation with #TextTalk2016. Join me in discussing what matters most.
Have something to say about Trump, Clinton or the political process? Gather & text “START” to 89800 #TextTalk2016
What about the #Election2016? Let’s chat IRL but not turn off our phones #TextTalk2016
Let’s text & talk politics, but in a civil way. is my kind of #debate

This was originally posted on Public Agenda’s blog, On the Agenda.

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