The 1 Percent Candidate
Think big money and Wall Street have too much influence over national politics?
Not to worry: A third-party presidential candidate bankrolled by hedge funds will fix all of that.
Believe it or not, that's the pitch coming from a group called "Americans Elect." And some of America's top pundits are loving it. "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," gushed New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman last year. Another columnist likened the effort to the democratic uprising in Egypt, while a third cheered on the challenge to "today's two-party tyranny."
Sure, it's time to shake up the two-party system. But what exactly is Americans Elect?
The group is attempting to use state petition drives to win a spot on this year's presidential ballot. But who will be its candidate? That's apparently up to us — sort of. The candidate will be chosen through the Internet, as citizen delegates weigh in on key issues and then nominate viable, qualified candidates. Sorry, Stephen Colbert, no joke candidates allowed.
That sounds fine — but there's a catch. The group stipulates that the candidate must be a so-called "centrist," but if you look at the candidates the group is reportedly considering, this is just code for moderate Republican.
Indeed, many of the people Americans Elect has floated as potential candidates — Jon Huntsman, Chuck Hagel, and Lamar Alexander, for example — happen to be Republicans who have failed to excite many actual Republican voters.
The Democrats whose names are floated include Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-independent who often votes as a Republican.
According to the group's own rules, the group can overrule the choice of the Internet delegates. That doesn't sound much like democracy.
Who is putting up the cash to potentially run a second Republican presidential candidate? The project is "financed with some serious hedge-fund money," Friedman explained.
Indeed. Mega-investor Peter Ackerman put up some of the substantial funds required to get the project off the ground, and his son Elliot is the group's chief operating officer. Americans Elect isn't revealing much about where it gets the rest of its loot, nor does it have to, thanks to the nation's increasingly lax campaign finance rules. The group claims that such secrecy is necessary given the serious challenge they supposedly represent to the status quo.
That's right: A secretive effort by mega-rich Wall Street titans to place a conservative presidential candidate on the ballot is a bold, game-changing act of political courage. There's no reason why the American people should know who's paying for it.
At least some prominent media outlets aren't buying it. A Los Angeles Times editorial zinged the group for practicing "secrecy in the cause of openness." But the idea that what the country really needs is for the political system to move towards the "center" has long been a fixation among influential Washington journalists.
As the argument goes, the parties have retreated to their respective corners, making compromise all but impossible. But one could just as easily arrive at a different conclusion: that from the early 1990s the Democratic Party has embraced a Clintonian style of centrist "triangulation" that has moved their party to the right. The Republicans, meanwhile, have become more and more conservative as well. The space between the parties is shifting and shrinking, not growing.
The political system does need a jolt.
But the center-right agenda Americans Elect covets shouldn't be the target for anyone seeking the middle ground.
The shady initiative's backers promise that we'll be hearing more from them very soon. Americans Elect may or may not be a factor in the 2012 presidential election. But don't be surprised if it is.
Peter Hart is the activism director of Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting.
Read the latest political news.
- Wealthy Tax Cheats
- The 1 Percent Candidate
- Larry Sabato Warns of Electoral 'Newt-Mare'
- The Hottest TV Drama in 2012
- Trailing Newt Gingrich Makes Plea for Votes
- Newt Gingrich Looks For Winning Strategy
- Eisenhower's 'Military-Industrial Complex' and JFK's Inaugural
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Those Who Hated Him
- Do All the GOP Debates Matter?
- Will Dems Call New Tax Law 'The Romney Rule?'
- 'Buffett Rule' Could Create Unintended Consequences
- Why Swing State Republican Governors Will Get Obama Re-Elected
- State of the Union Speech Focuses on Middle Class Success
- Will Obama's Mortgage Refinance Plan Be D.O.A.?
- State of the Union Shows Few Opportunities for Congressional Action
- Obama Uses State of the Union Speech to Rebuff GOP Attacks
- Obama Channels Clinton in State of the Union
- Obama Crafted a Winning Message
- Winning Words, But Not a Winner
- Obama's Speech Will Be Forgotten
- State of the Union Was Typical for Election Year
- Obama's State of the Union Failed
- Incumbents Have History on Their Side
- Obama's Side of the Nation's Story
- Justice John Paul Stevens on How the Supreme Court Works
- There Is a Judicial Confirmation Crisis and the GOP Is Causing It
Pentagon Budget Ends Post-9/11 Era:
Ushers in Pacific Era
- Senator Puts Nuclear Arsenal in Doubt
- Management Tips Mitt Romney Can Use to Save His Campaign
- Rick Santorum's New Target: Gingrich's Reagan Credentials
- GOP Not As Split as the Media Wants You to Think
- Primary Primer: 5 Things to Know about Florida
- On Courting Public Sentiment
- Ike's Lessons for Obama
- Bill Clinton Says Gingrich 'Just Like Romney'
- Newt Gingrich: Buying Our Future
- The Off-the-Radar Congressional Targets of 2012
- Green Energy Investments Pay Off in the Long Run
- Investment in Clean Energy Production Is a Must
- It's Up to the Private Sector to Invest in New Technology
- Competition, Not Handouts, Should Determine Role of Green Energy
- Government Has a History Supporting Emerging Industries
- Green Energy Dramatically Benefits the Nation
- Subsidies for Green Energy Do Not Help American Consumers
- Super PACs: Destroy Our Future
- Super PACs: Super-sized Influence, Super Lack of Transparency
- Super PACs Are a Form of Political Participation
- Super PACs Need to Disclose Political Activity
- Super PACs Engage in More Positive Than Negative Messaging
- Super PACs Enhance Democracy
- Super PACs Make It Harder for Average Americans to be Heard
- Super PACs Level the Playing Field
- Super PACs Promote Attack Ads and Special Interests
- Dollar Democracy
- 2012 Election Will Decide Which New Wars Will Be Waged
- Why 2012 Will Be Obama-Clinton vs Romney-Rubio
- Revenge of the Internet Nerds
- The Decline of Public Good
- We Must Reignite America's Can-Do Spirit
Free Enterprise on Trial:
Who Bears the Risks?
- Mitt Romney Goes on the Offensive
- Bain Capitalism
- How a Populist Obama Can Win
- Obama: A Question of Priorities
- Newtzilla Conquers All?
- Gingrich Follows GOP Playbook on Racism
- Newt Gingrich as Insurgent
- Newt Gingrich: It's Complicated
- Gingrich and The Politics of Division
- Ron Paul: The Great Contrarian
- Ron Paul and Louis Farrakhan - Birds of a Feather?
- Ron Paul's Kooky Moment
- Ron Paul: Foolish Consistency or Just Foolishness?
- Trying to Stop Mitt Romney
- Mitt Romney's Authenticity Problem
- Romney's Big Problem: Hispanic Voters
- Romney's Lies: Mitt Romney Has a Truth Problem
- Romney's Wealth and Influence on the Campaign Trail
- Mitt Romney: Electability vs Likability
- Romney's Backward Views on States Rights
- Mitt Romney Must Win Battle of the Bloat
- Mitt Romney: People Inc.
- The Luck of Mitt Romney
- Romney's 'Mormon Question'
- Would Today's GOP Elect Ronald Reagan?
- Defense Spending: A Shovel-Ready Investment
- Don't Die Stupid
- Three Conservative Victories
- Not By Sight, But By Faith
- To Spur Economy, United States Must Reform Legal Immigration
- Five Reasons Rick Perry Failed
- Overthrow Wall Street
- Civilization in Reverse
- Momentum of Cynicism
- China's JFK moment
The 1 Percent Candidate | Politics
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)