In order to turn Steve Rogers, a sick boy from Brooklyn, into Captain America, a special serum and a flash roast in a Vita-Ray chamber were required. For Chris Evans, the savior of American democracy, the story of its origins is less impressive.
A few years ago, around the time he was shooting Avengers: Infinity War Evans was watching the news. The discussion on the show became an unusual acronym – it could have been NAFTA, but he believes it is DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era immigration policy, the people who were brought to the U.S. , Amnesty granted the United States illegally as children. The Trump administration had just announced plans to phase out DACA and abandon more than half a million young immigrants. (The Supreme Court will probably decide this year whether the show's ending was legal.)
On the other side of the television, Evans narrowed his eyes. Wait a minute, he thought. What did this acronym stand for? And was it a good thing or a bad thing? "It was just something I didn't understand," he says.
Evans sees himself as a politician. The 38-year-old grew up in a middle-class family who loves to scream about the news over dinner. His uncle Michael Capuano served as a Massachusetts Democrat for ten terms in Congress. It started around the time Evans graduated from high school and moved to New York to act. During the 201
But that day Evans was totally lost on television. He googled the acronym and stumbled across all the warring headlines. Then he tried Wikipedia, but the entry was thousands of words long. "It's this infinite thing and you're just like that, who's going to read 12 pages on something?" Says Evans. "I just wanted a basic understanding, a basic story, and a basic understanding of what the two parties think." He decided to build the resource he wanted for himself.
Evans brought the idea to his close friend Mark Kassen, an actor and director he met when he was working on the indie film Puncture in 2011. With Joe Kiani, the founder and CEO of a medical technology company called Masimo, Kassen was able to gain a third partner. The three met in Boston for the lobster bun. They decided that the country needed some kind of schoolhouse rock for adults – an easy and memorable way to learn the basics of civil life. Evans suggested working directly with politicians. Kiani, who had made some friends on Capitol Hill over the years, thought they would give it a try. Each partner agreed to raise money to get things going. (You wouldn't say how much.) They spent some time googling similar outlets and figuring out where to fit them, Kassen says.
They started by setting up some rules. First, a starting point would give politicians the opportunity to answer questions at will – no editing, no moderation, no interjection. Second, they would hire fact checkers to ensure that they did not promote misinformation. Third, you would design a site with a privileged diversity of opinion, where you can see a dozen different people answering the same question in different ways. Here, however, soaking up the information would look more like watching YouTube than browsing Wikipedia – more like entertainment than homework.
The trio drew up a list of questions to be brought to Capitol Hill, starting with the questions that amazed them the most. ( Is the electoral college still necessary?) They spoke admiringly about how moderators of presidential debates manage to make their language sound neutral. (Should the questions refer to a "climate crisis" or a "climate situation", "illegal immigrants" or "undocumented immigrants"?) Then Evans recorded a video on his couch in LA. "Hello, I'm Chris Evans," he started. "If you look at this, I hope you will contribute to my new engagement project" A Starting Point "." He emailed the file to each Senator and Congress representative.