Stop Acting Like Kids, or Follow Students' Examples?

By Allelo Team

January 21, 2021

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“Stop acting like kids?” We think it might be time to follow young people’s example in having productive civil discourse in Congress - and we’re happy to help.

A gentle suggestion to Congressman Tom Reed and the Problem Solvers Caucus.

The morning, still glowing with hope from Amanda Gorman’s Hamilton-inspired poetry and President Biden’s call for unity that ends the “uncivil war” that has polarized political discourse, the Allelo team was thrilled to hear NY Congressman Tom Reed’s discussion with NPR’s Steve Inskeep about the bipartisan work of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which ended with the Congressman saying that legislators need to “stop acting like kids.”

We gently suggest that improving bipartisan discourse doesn’t require Congress to “stop acting like kids,” but rather to “stop acting like adults.”

It is our nation’s youth who’ve shown how to engage in productive, informed discourse. We know; our student-created discourse platform Allelo has been hosting and watching this happen over this challenging school year – often in college and K-12 classrooms in your districts. Tackling charged topics ranging from policing to climate action, not once did we see the bad behavior young people have watched too many adults display, in Presidential debates and Congressional chambers.

Please don’t tarnish youth for frayed civil discourse. Our generation is more informed, politically active, and passionate than any before us. Like Amanda Gorman, we’ve been inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton”; we embrace multiculturalism’s diversity as America’s strength. We aren’t shy about debating ideas that impact us – race, gun reform, debt, healthcare, and climate action – and know the importance of listening to other voices respectfully.

We share your belief that debate that finds common cause leads to better bipartisan legislation. Many in our organization were first-time voters this fall (in your district, in Rep. Gottheimer’s NJ district, and in Alleghany County, Pennsylvania, where we are based). Despite diverse views, our team all believe that “politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path” as our new President urged. We applaud your caucasus’ work, which we feel a kinship.

Our discourse platform, created by students at Carnegie Mellon University, is used by your constituents at schools like Colgate, Cornell, and various K-12 schools, enabling students as young as 6th grade to have real-time online discussions, that, as one of our teaching advisors said, “encourages respectful consideration of opposing views.” Artificial Intelligence-powered word-counts and phrasing suggestions help limit toxic messaging and make discussions more equitable. Our work is animated by a mission to improve online discourse. And our democracy.

We’d be happy to let you, or your colleagues, use our platform. Or come join our team, students, and teachers, to take part in one of our weekly roundtable debates (we’ll even let you set the topic) – all in the spirit of a more kid-like, unified future.

Sincerely, the Allelo Team.

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