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Faiz Siddiqui Headshot

An Appeal: Winning Back Political Discourse

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In the wretched political climate of today, openly debating the issues is kind of like being mercilessly bludgeoned with a 20-pound sledgehammer: It will almost certainly induce a headache of some kind, and the only tangible result will be a blunt device soaked entirely in blood.

If this not-implausible episode of political wrangling tells us anything, it's that the American people have abandoned any notion of civilized discourse whatsoever. Sound logic and reasoning have, as of late, become something of a rhetorical taboo.

Look no further than the 2012 GOP presidential race to see such a harmful dynamic in action, with the spewing of antiquated ideals, patronage to dead politicians and appeal to visceral fears of the unknown running rampant. Our existence in this hellish, wild-west-reminiscent dystopia -- the kind of place where Newt Gingrich is still relevant -- is essentially worthless, the Zimbabwean dollar of public opinion.

Make no mistake, this is the backwards, vitriolic world we live in:

1. Arguments are won only when adversaries have retroactively wished abortion upon themselves.

2. Bigotry and intolerance are totally acceptable when conveyed through a keyboard (they're OK in front of national audiences too, but only if thinly-veiled).

3. The validity of points raised is measured by the number of times they give mention to Ronald Reagan (Additionally: Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan).

Needless to say, this destructive, mostly-contrived model of modern politicking, which mainly emphasizes McCarthyism and political forum trolling, is a death wish for a democratic America. Put simply, a voting population that's as uninformed and misinformed as ours is about as qualified to participate in democracy as every suppressive despot who's ever lived.

Lucky for us, there's at least one innovative political savant out to save us -- not with a blacklist, but rather, with logic. Oh, and some Jenna Marbles-inspired video editing.

With his newly-created YouTube Channel, "Hallitics (rhymes with politics)," Luke Hall, an ambitious 19-year-old politician from Cincinnati, strives to limit misinformation by changing the way we take in politics in the first place. Of course, Luke would just tell you he's trying to "encourage and facilitate civil, informed political discourse," as if his movement carries within it no larger implications whatsoever.

Nonetheless, to a generation that finds itself increasingly uninformed and apathetic, the young politician is probably the mundane equivalent of Clark Kent: a rare but sure glimmer of hope, one with an unparalleled affinity for intellectual discussion and, among other things, striped shirts.

With "Hallitics," he aims to post weekly videos "dissecting and talking about political issues as objectively as (he) can." The whole idea is basically cable news, only without the accompanying intellectual napalm -- like the infamous Crossfire.

Luke is essentially promoting real, tangible change in the political conversation, not through his own entrenched ideologies, but rather with the plain truth, the lack of any partisan ideology whatsoever. You see, instead of making uninformed decisions for the voting population, Luke seeks to enlighten it. Facilitate healthy discussion rather than cheaply pander on arbitrary grounds like politicians' obsessions with mundanities like golf and teleprompter use.

The newly-launched channel currently features three issue-related videos: a post on the Balanced Budget Amendment and a two-part series on the dynamic political situation surrounding Iran. Head over to YouTube and you'll see that the cuts look and feel like something out of the Khan Academy, rather than just the regurgitated C-SPAN they could have been. Like Sal Khan's videos, "Hallitics" discussions aren't written for experts, or in this case, political savants. Rather, they're presented in terms anyone can understand, even, say, a lazy, apathetic millennial who couldn't care less about his government homework, let alone the study of international politics.

We can only hope that "Hallitics'" foolproof model serves as a catalyst for constructive political discussion going forward. The nation will be healthier for it, and maybe it'll force hacks like Bill O'Reilly and Ed Schultz to clean up their acts or clean house, like the revenue-starved Glenn Beck, whose notoriously brain-frying FOX News show went off the air in 2011.

With "Hallitics," Luke has a winning formula that the American people should embrace. A formula of informed and effective argument, principles that are almost antithetical to the "screw you/go to hell" politics of today.

Regardless of how we go about changing, one thing is clear: We can no longer accept living in the type Orwellian nightmare where angry primetime bobble heads can spout absurdities like "tide goes in, tide goes out -- can't explain that!" and actually be lauded for disproving science. The kind of backwards society where lifetime politicians can boast that they're "Washington outsiders" after making careers and loads of money on their being Washington insiders. A compartmentalized world where social commentators can get by referring to the gays and the blacks simply as "the gays" and "the blacks," as if the groups are intellectually-synchronized, and uniting straight from the tackle box of American demographics.

The spirit of global protest demands that America stand up against its most grave injustice, an ignoble farce that might be weakly characterized as "a lack of transparency" in politics. We have to change ourselves, whether through Luke Hall's videos or any other accessible, innovative medium -- anything that gets us away from the O'Reilly and Schultz-influenced "loud is convincing" modus operandi of maligning dissenters.

"Hallitics" is most certainly the start we need. We can choose to adopt its message, improve ourselves and thereby make the country's political situation a little less laughable.

Either that, or we can stick with the current system of partisan hackery -- the one that's destructive and all, and in a larger sense, an assurance of further division and probably imminent death to any notion of a democratic America.

And you thought the bludgeoning sounded bad.

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