Chris Evans became the politically thorniest “Avenger” a few years ago with a series of tough tweets about President Donald Trump and his Republican supporters.
But the “Captain America” actor (“Captain America” has remained relatively quiet during this presidential campaign. Instead, he prefers to amplify the voices of elected officials with votes.
Last month Evans launched a civic engagement app and site called A Starting Point, featuring short videos of Democratic and Republican members of Congress and other American politicians sharing their perspectives on policy issues.
Over the course of two years Evans built the site with regular visits to the capitol together with tech entrepreneur Joe Kiani and longtime friend actor and producer Mark Kassen. All three hope it will continue to function long after the November elections.
“This came about for the same reason that I do what I do on Twitter. You want to help. You want to try to use the platform they gave you in the right way, ”Evans said. “And this felt like it could be the most far-reaching because it really takes away my personal policies and tries to offer information to people who want to participate.”
The site is divided into three sections. One includes three Republicans and three Democrats answering questions on long-term issues like immigration, climate change, student debt and voter fraud. The second section allows politicians to post messages on topics like Trump’s executive orders or the TikTok ban. And a “counterparts” section highlights moderate debates between parties: Should schools reopen during the pandemic? Should the government require mail-in ballots?
The site is meant to educate, not advocate, Evans says. It was created without incentives towards extremes. The number of views of the videos is not shown, nor are there like buttons, or comment sections. The videos in the “Starting Points” section are reviewed for accuracy by an outside group.
“The reason for making this site is to combat the proliferation of misinformation,” Evans said in an interview from his home in Boston. “A lot of the disinformation out there comes from individuals who have created these platforms and they take bits of information to places to create stories. And many are guesswork. You hope that the elected officials who are in office are the ones who try to end that. “
Evans, whose uncle was a member of Congress as a Democrat for a decade until last year, said he and Kassen had to work hard to convince Republicans to participate. The 39-year-old actor had charmed liberals early in the Trump term by calling the president a “punch” or a “meatball.”
Kassen said Evans’s reputation made it an “uphill” struggle for both of them to visit the capitol offices presenting his vision of a fair site: “Our hard work and charisma allowed us to continue, but there was a lot of stance against us. for the same”.
Evans said he’s pleased to see Republicans posting more videos on the site than Democrats in recent weeks.
As he prepares to shoot a spy movie for Netflix in January, the self-proclaimed “news junkie” said he has temporarily disengaged from the presidential campaign to focus on A Starting Point. Their social media is mostly benign these days.
“It is a measure of efficiency. How can you be more good, give the best service? ”Evans said. “This site feels to me like something that could have a bigger impact than anything else I do on my individual Twitter.”
Ryan Pearson is on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ryanwrd