Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Americans Elect

This might be just another third-party gimmick, or it might actually be a way out of the stranglehold of the ruling Corporate Party (disguised as “Democrats” and “Republicans”).

Americans Elect is trying to encourage voters — via the Internet — to nominate presidential candidates AND to choose the issues. Thomas Friedman describes the group in more detail.

There has to be a way out of this mess. Most Americans (myself included) are scared shitless to “throw away their votes” by voting for a third party candidate and thereby handing over the election to that dreaded Other Party that’s even worse than the Lesser-Of-Two-Evils Party.

Thomas Friedman describes Americans Elect as “a quiet political start-up that is now ready to show its hand, a viable, centrist, third presidential ticket, elected by an Internet convention...” and “...an impressive group of frustrated Democrats, Republicans and independents.”

So far, Americans Elect has gathered 1.6 million signatures. They’re hoping to get their presidential candidate on the ballot in all fifty states. Whoever their candidate turns out to be, he/she will have been nominated without the influence of powerbrokers, kingmakers or quatrobazillions of dollars in “campaign contributions” (which used to be called bribery).

The CEO of Americans Elect says:

“Our goal is to open up what has been an anticompetitive process to people in the middle who are unsatisfied with the choices of the two parties.”

The group’s website says:

“Americans Elect is the first-ever open nominating process. We’re using the Internet to give every single voter — Democrat, Republican or independent — the power to nominate a presidential ticket in 2012. The people will choose the issues. The people will choose the candidates. And in a secure, online convention next June, the people will make history by putting their choice on the ballot in every state.”

Their Chief Operating Officer says:

“The questions, the priorities, the nominations and the rules will all come from the community, not from two entrenched parties.”


“Each presidential candidate has to pick a running mate outside of their party and reaching across the divide of politics.”

Thomas Friedman ends his column with:

“What Amazon.com did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music, what drugstore.com did to pharmacies, Americans Elect plans to do to the two-party duopoly that has dominated American political life — remove the barriers to real competition, flatten the incumbents and let the people in. Watch out.”

What say you? Does this sound hopeful?

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Anonymous Jolly Roger said...

I signed up. And I was susprised at the curve when I answered questions. It might be a good thing.

July 28, 2011 at 3:18 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

Excuse me, but the entirety of existence is a binary choice, A or B, Coke or Pepsi.

Third party. You poor deluded fools, muahahahahahaha, says the supervillain, rubbing his hands together as supervillains do when plotting their next move or being annoyed with dry, itchy skin.

July 28, 2011 at 5:31 AM  
Blogger jadedj said...

The problem is the Congress, not just the presidency. That's a lot of candidates to nominate. Frankly, I don't think anyone who is worth a shit, would be interested in that zoo. Or at least, not enough would be.

Of course, I hope I'm wrong, but my cynical self believes in nothing any more.

July 28, 2011 at 6:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Problem with these 3rd parties is they never integrate, they always turn out to be a party of angry white people. It's as if they don't try, don't wanna, don't know how, or decide it's the kiss of death.

Pat Buchanan chose a black running mate for when he ran for the reform party, but he never tried to to integrate the party, and knowing his reputation anyway - people of color stayed away.

When asked Ralph Nader said "I'm not concerned about Civil Rights, I only care about the environment!" Though he realized he blew it later, the Greens never made a serious attempt to integrate.

The Republicans burn crosses, the Teaparty flies Confederate Flags and the 3rd Parties don't want you.

Limits my choices anyway


July 28, 2011 at 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Jess said...

Call me cynical, but this just looks like one of those groups that says it will be third party then when it all boils down to it, we will have yet ANOTHER republican front group masquerading as a third party.

July 28, 2011 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

JR: I hope it'll be a good thing.

Randal: I'll vote for the lesser of the two supervillains.

jadedj: If this approach works it'll probably spread to other political races. But it might end up being just another failed idea.

Erik: The difference with this organization (at least in theory) is that it isn't based on political views. Their candidate would supposedly be someone who's moderate but was chosen by a process not based on money or political advertising.

That's the theory anyway. We'll see how it pans out. Jess (the next comment) could be right.

Jess: A Republican front group? Why, that's unheard of :)

July 28, 2011 at 4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also question their excitement at doing so much of this online which will disenfranchise of whole bunch of poor people who aren't online.

Just like people don't have ID's for Voting.


July 28, 2011 at 7:52 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

The fact Tom Friedman is pumping this puts me off from the get-go. Cheerleaders for free trade and "don't worry, be happy" about the race to the bottom bring out the worst in me.

I share Erik's skepticism and second the excellent points he made. I have a few dozen more, but I'll try to pare them down to the essentials.

First, starting out by going after the presidency is the surefire kiss of death for third parties. This latest stroke of brilliance supposedly grows from the bottom up, but paradoxically seeks to exercise power from the top down.

Suppose Americans Elect were to put Michael Bloomberg in the White House. I don't know who he'd choose for a V.P. because he's been a Democrat, Republican and now, if I understand correctly, is an independent. OK, let's say he picks retired Gen. Norman Scwarzkopf to be his No. 2, and they win the White House.

What then? Bloomberg has no support base in Congress. Who will take up his agenda and advance it as legislation?

OK, say Bloomberg has a few allies who do that. Does anyone actually think the partisan conflict between the radical right and everyone who's not radical right would be any less pronounced? Do you think the Anything-to-Win crowd, the Party of No, would be any less focused on making the incumbent a failed president so, they believe, they would be able to replace him with one of their own?


July 28, 2011 at 10:02 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Most likely, to get anything done, Bloomberg would end up allying himself with one party or the other, inevitably becoming a de facto Republican or Democrat. Otherwise what you'd end up with most of the time is three-way gridlock as bad or worse than what we have now.

The Americans Elect online approach to circumventing the major parties might work in the intended way the first time out. After that, watch out. There is nothing online that can't be hacked. People like the Koch brothers and the Coorses can pay for a lot of hacking, if they're of a mind. So could the U.S. Chamber and, for that matter, the People's Republic of China.

And, does anyone think people like Rove and Murdoch, Dick Armey, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist would be above jiggering the nominating process either by hacking or seeing to it their lockstep-marching drones would hijack the process?

To make a third party succeed, you have to pursue a longterm strategy, planning 15 or 20 years out. You have to have some deep-pockets and big-name backers to get it going, and you have to begin with county government, state legislatures and seats in Congress. You need to build party infrastructure in the states and nationally. You need to recruit top-quality people and develop discipline. That way, the party can grow and survive cycles when it mostly loses.

One other thing about the start-at-the-top approach with a big-name candidate like a Bloomberg. How well would America Elects be positioned to follow up after eight years of a Bloomberg presidency? What if next time around online participants choose, say, Colin Powell, but he flat refuses to run? Then what?

I understand the desire for relief from one party that's so bad it's evil and another party so lame much of the time that it's pathetic. I just have yet to see anyone go about creating a new party in a realistic way.

July 28, 2011 at 10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheers to SW, it seems they are just making it easier for the professional vultures and spin doctors to hijack the process, especially once they get some money behind them.


July 29, 2011 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik, SW: [sigh] You guys are probably right. At best, this idea could work at first. But even if it does, the entrenched powers will find a way to hijack it and/or create an Astroturf Corporate candidate disguised as "We The People."

I do like the idea; the theory, in spite of Perky Friedman's bubbling optimism. But it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: "In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

July 29, 2011 at 12:33 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Tom, I don't enjoy dashing hopes, especially well-justified ones. This idea of a third party that starts at the top gets off with me because, like huge tax cuts to supposedly create jobs, it's been tried before and has proven a spectacular failure.

Your quote about theory and practice is a gem.

July 29, 2011 at 7:53 PM  
Blogger Dave Dubya said...

The only possible way forward is to reclaim the Democratic Party from the roots up. We need passionate voices from the lower levels to demand accountability to, and representation of, the people.

The Republicrat Party needs to be purged of corporatists and restored to a Democratic Party.

July 30, 2011 at 2:18 PM  
Anonymous d.eris said...

"Most Americans (myself included) are scared shitless to “throw away their votes” by voting for a third party candidate"

I'm scared shitless that so many Americans continue to throw their votes away in support of the Democrats and Republicans.

July 31, 2011 at 4:43 PM  

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