Our good friend Chad alerted me to the Americans Elect project a few months ago in a comment here on The Daily Cocca. Americans Elect aims to by-pass the major parties and nominate a centrist candidate directly on the internet. I love the concept, and yesterday’s post about the Tea Party and Occupy needing to recognize common ground comes from same anxiety that motivate most third-party pushes on a popular level. Since the head’s up from Chad, I’ve been getting Americans Elect email updates and have been quietly following their presence on Twitter. We’ve all learned to be cautious about these kinds of things, and I’m far from saying that Americans Elect will be the vehicle to bring substantive change over the next decade, but it certainly could be one important piece to the puzzle of which Occupy and the Tea Party are clearly a part.
In addition to having an outstanding name, Doyle McManus has a piece up about Americans Elect in today’s LA Times. An excerpt:
Americans Elect is a collection of Republicans, Democrats and independents who say they’re fed up with the polarization that has poisoned American politics. Some of its backers have previously contributed to Obama, Romney or other candidates. Several are fans of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has flirted with the idea of running as a third-party centrist. The group’s central figure is Peter Ackerman, a wealthy investor and former banker who considers himself an independent and who was active four years ago in a similar effort called Unity08.
Chad’s friend Buddy Roemer even gets a shout out. Chad asked yesterday if I still have hope about 2012 being different. I said that the election may not be (I hope it is), but the year must be, and the year after that. We can’t have another 1992 fizzling into another 1996 (at least not politically. I still miss you, The 90’s). We need to think of efforts like Americans Elect or the drives toward unity between disaffected groups less as “third-party” movements and more as logical responses to the truth that the entrenched parties are ridiculous and don’t really speak for most of us at the national level. Why is it that in 2011, I have no one to the left of Obama to consider no one in the GOP field besides Ron Paul that’s worth my time? And why no unity tickets, no great American middle, no options that make real sense to most of us? Are we free or aren’t we?
Americans Elect should have a presence at every Tea Party event and every Occupation. I said yesterday that we all need to work together to move beyond the b.s. status quo. Most of us hate it. Most of us have grown up hating it. We’ve allowed ourselves to divorce the faithful execution of our other civic virtues from the basic failure that is our federal government. We might be good neighbors and community leaders, but as long as we let slash-and-burning sycophants set the national agenda, we enable false choices and division and we give away our power. Enough of that, already.
I remember learning as a child that Athens had a system of direct democracy, and that one day, maybe one day, with advancements in technology, maybe the US could do the same. The Tea Party and Occupy are analog versions of this kind of shift. Is Americans Elect the technical piece that helps us with real change? Doesn’t that depend on us?