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?
10 thoughts on “Americans Elect: Common Ground Between Tea Partiers and Occupiers of Good Will?”
Let’s not go so far as to call Buddy Roemer my friend; I am not even sure what his positions are on most issues. All I know is that I have seen him talking about refusing to accept anything other than small-money donations to his campaign, and that is something I can get behind.
I had hope for years that the political process in this country could be sane. We wrote back and forth a few months ago about the hope I had that Obama would be a great compromiser, a closer of secret CIA prisons, indifferent to special interests, and so forth. But for now at least that hope (not in Obama specifically, but in the ability of *anyone* to turn this thing around) has been extinguished.
Re: Buddy Roemer….come on, his name is Buddy! He wants you to be his friend.
I agree that it’s a fool’s game to believe that any one person will deliver all the hope and change folks projected on Obama (a projection he encouraged if not designed). My hope now is that independent-minded leaders can get elected, even to the office of President, and stay faithful to the electoral revolution that was required to get them there. I still think that can happen, given the right person or mix of people.
The problem I have with Third Parties, it that they invariably lean enough to either side to splinter some votes off a major candidate. Ralph Nader and the Green party were responsible for Al Gore’s loss in Florida 2000. I love the concept, but the reality is that the non-splintered party may as well endorse the 3rd party candidate and cultivate non-votes for their actual opponent.
That hefty chunk of independent pie, votes for incumbents; there hasn’t been a one term President since Carter in 1976. I suspect it’s due to the cannibalistic primary system. We get a year of debates that are circular firing squads. By nomination day every candidate is mortally wounded.
I hate the “voting for a third party if throwing away your vote” thing. I think someone in the big two came up with that to convince us to keep in line.
Plus one. I need an edit button…
George Bush Sr. 41st President of the United States (1989–1993)
Yes, the primary system as it stands is one of things relegating third party attempts to minor league, fringe status. Here in PA, Independents can’t vote in either major party primary. Part of me understands that, but why on Earth should these two parties, de fact corporations at this point, get to dictate the national agenda this way? We have more choices for soft drinks than we do for president.
Primaries or not, third parties will never break the stranglehold that the Democratic-Republicans have (not the party that went by that name 200 years ago, the pair of parties that cooperate today to make sure the important issues never get discussed) over the electorate, for the initial reason that Mr. Salk mentioned. The only solution is a voting system other than first-past-the-post, and the people who have the power to change the system also have enormous incentives to not do so.
Before Perot left the race in ’92 (only to come back later), he was polling double digits nationally, leading many or most of them. He was at 39% at one point in the cycle. In a three-way race, obviously, that’s saying something. Yes, his numbers started to fall as the summer went on and he made some critical blunders (or was compromised by outside forces, which he claimed).
Could he have ever won in the first place? It’s not likely, but it’s conceivable. Had he not dropped out of the race under bizarre circumstances, only to come back later, I do believe he would have polled the 20 percent nationally required for federal funds. That whole process itself is out to lunch, but it would have made enabled Perot to build what could be, by now, a truly viable third party. If if if if.
Incidentally, Perot advocated for electronic town hall style democracy 20 years ago. That’s actually possible now. Nevermind the fact that he owned an IT/data company with government contracts at the time…
If we went back to a true “caucus” and helped everyone understand what an electoral college is rather than continuing to present this false idea that we actually vote for the president- we’d be able to avoid the whole thing.
Third party votes are worse than garbage; they’re a spiteful protest that fails to support anything. The Tea Party has the right concept; Vocal Voting Blocks can mandate their issues if they co-opt into an existing party.
No sense failing on the fringe.