Tag Archives: Americans Elect

The Third Party Fantasy – NYTimes.com

16 May

TnT’s not a Douthat fan, but he has some interesting remarks about the failure of Americans Elect to gain traction:

Successful third parties need dynamic, high profile leaders, and ideally deep-pocketed ones as well. But instead of a Bloomberg, the Americans Elect ballot had ex-Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer; instead of a Bayh or a Snowe, they had Laurence Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University. Kotlikoff has impressive policy proposals and Roemer has an entertaining Twitter feed, but neither is exactly the potential general election spoiler who could keep David Axelrod awake at night.

But the fault also lay with the project’s essential theory of what kind of third party contender disillusioned voters are pining to elect. From the (inarguable) premise that the public is wearied by the failures of the political and economic establishment, it leaped to the (preposterous) conclusion that the country is crying out for a presidential candidate who mostly represents the interests and values of exactly that same establishment.

Like the afore mentioned New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, a wealthy  centrist technocrat. To the contrary

 the most successful third party surges, from the William Jennings Bryan-era Populists down to Ross Perot’s 19 percent, usually arise from precisely the opposite impulse – a “plague on both your houses” populism that highlights issues and anxieties that the leaders of the two major parties have decided to ignore.

Such a populism has flowered over the last two years, but it’s mostly appeared on the right and left-wing fringes of the two parties rather than in the space between them — in the Tea Party’s backlash against bailouts and spending and in the Occupy Wall Street revolt against Wall Street’s political influence.

It’s possible to imagine a gifted political figure emerging to fuse elements from the Tea Party and O.W.S. critiques into a plausible third party challenge to politics as usual. But such a candidate would look nothing like Michael Bloomberg or any other high-minded Davos/Brookings type of technocrat. Instead, he or she would be more disreputable, more eccentric, and probably more demagogic as well. Such a candidacy (Pat Buchanan meets Ralph Nader) wouldn’t have to actually govern the country; instead, its purpose would be to jolt the two parties out of their usual habits and arguments and to persuade one or both of them to adopt some of its ideas.

via The Third Party Fantasy – NYTimes.com.


Americans Elect defeated by American indifference – Alex Pareene – Salon.com

15 May

Ignore the snarky tone of the article. It has some useful information. Too bad Americans Elect didn’t find more interest.

Poor Americans Elect. The well-funded experiment in fielding a third-party presidential candidate selected by the Internet is this close to giving up. It doesn’t have a candidate. It was apparent back in March that none of the declared candidates would meet the threshold of support necessary to qualify it for the online primary votes scheduled for May. Since then, no white knight has emerged….

A lot of the more prominent AE supporters and many of the people involved in organizing the group are disillusioned Republicans — like former Giuliani speechwriter John Avlon and former Bush strategist Mark McKinnon — which helps explain why AE keeps going after people who only appeal to … disillusioned moderate Republicans.

AE dreamed that superstars like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg or former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would decide to jump into the race once AE did the hard work of securing ballot access. You may note that neither of those candidates represents a significant national constituency whose interests are currently being ignored by the two major parties.

via Americans Elect defeated by American indifference – Alex Pareene – Salon.com.

Americans Elect: Corrupt or Not?

8 Mar

Over at Crooked Timber there’s an interesting discussion shaping up about Americans Elect, a somewhat mysterious effort to use the internet to select a centrist candidate to run in the 2012 Presidential Election. The process is just complicated enough that I’m not going to try to explain it; you can start here on their website to find out for yourself.

The big mystery is that Americans Elect won’t reveal who’s funding them. Some people are OK with that, some are not. Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig is OK with that (FWIW, Lessig is on a Leadership list for AE). His reasoning, which is set forth in some detail at Crooked Timber, is that candidates won’t know any more about contributors than we do, so how could they be corrupted by them?

The problem, however, is that the board of Americans Elect retains the right to veto the ticket selected by the internet process. If they don’t like the result, they’ll over-rule that result though it’s not clear what happens then, though it seems at the point the process just folds. So, it seems rather important to know who’s footing the bills, for its likely that they’re the ones who’ll have to approve the ticket. Rumor has it that much of the money comes from hedge-fund honchos. Continue reading