Now we know what the doomsayers feel like when the decreed day of judgment passes by without thunderbolts or second comings. Americans Elect, which was going to save our benighted political system with the ultimate deus ex machina—a bipartisan, third-choice presidential ticket borne from an online nominating process funded by leveraged-buyout tycoon Peter Ackerman and other deep-pocketed centrists—announced at midnight that the savior has not yet made his or her appearance.
When, a few months ago, I went to visit the spanking-new Pennsylvania Avenue offices of Americans Elect, the group that has spent millions of dollars (provided by undisclosed donors) to get a centrist third choice candidate on the presidential ballot, the first thing I noticed was the lone decoration on the main wall in the front lobby: a framed July 2011 column by Tom Friedman touting the organization.
There is a movement afoot in the land, but I don’t mean the one amid the tarps at Zuccotti Park. Instead, it’s a 148-person operation headquartered in a tenth-floor office on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington decorated with sleek posters that proclaim, “Make My Vote Count” and “Open Up The Ballot.” Hanging in the reception area is a framed op-ed column praising the movement, written by the man who is its Marx or Engels: Tom Friedman. This is Americans Elect, the latest attempt to challenge the country’s two-party duopoly from the political center.