Actor Chris Evans, along with director Mark Kassen and Joe Kiani, launched A Starting Point (ASP), a bipartisan civic engagement project aimed at connecting constituents to elected officials while creating a more informed electorate. Evans said he came up with the idea in 2017 after being met with an overload of information when trying to get clarification on something a government official said.
“I thought: 'What if there was a place that I could get, not only concise answers to common questions, but get the answers from the elected officials themselves,'” Evans said.
The website and app are structured the same and include three main sections: starting points, daily points and counterpoints. Starting points feature eight categories with numerous questions, ranging from economy to immigration, that elected officials were asked to answer in under two minutes. Daily points allows elected officials to post an unlimited number of videos regarding any topic they want their constituents to be informed about. Lastly, counterpoints is a debate-style conversation between two elected officials from across the aisle. In addition to the three main concepts, visitors to the site can also register to vote, look up their state’s representatives and view each representative’s individual profile.
Upon having heard about the project last year, I was excited to see something like this come to fruition, so I could further educate myself prior to the upcoming November election. I’ve learned a lot from the site already, such as where some officials stand in terms of education issues, like student loan debt. It’s important for constituents to have access to a site like this so they can become more informed in a space where misinformation is absent. In ASP’s launch webinar with Fast Company, Kassen mentioned that they’ve partnered with Countable to fact check the answers they receive from officials before they get uploaded to the site. Visitors to the site can also dive deeper into the issues mentioned in the starting point's section through a link leading to Countable.
Currently over 140 elected officials have contributed to ASP. The organization has partnered with the Close Up Foundation to launch a nationwide civic engagement initiative in schools. This unity shows that ASP isn’t only focused on one demographic, but that they’re making sure to inform the next generation of voters.
Although they just launched, Kassen said they’re already working to add to the site and give a platform to other officials, like mayors, and potentially individuals running for office or who are about to take office.
Overall, ASP is a resource that should’ve been developed a long time ago. Voters can now access information on one platform instead of scouring the internet to find an answer. I’m glad Evans had the idea and that the team was able to work through the struggles they faced to get officials to partner with them. So thanks, Captain America. Even if certain officials haven’t partnered with ASP yet, the site is definitely one to check out prior to November.