The recent failure of Americans Elect—the group spent $35 million, but it still couldn’t find a candidate—has removed next November’s most prominent third-party prospect. But for those who don’t want to vote for Obama or Romney, don’t worry: You still have options. In fact, those two candidates account for under a quarter of the people running for president this election cycle. There’s the guy running on a platform of prohibition, and the one campaigning on a strict interpretation of the founding fathers. Then there’s Roseanne Barr.
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.
Other than the brief period when the concept of “President Newt Gingrich” looked slightly plausible, the strangest phenomenen in this otherwise predictable election season has been Americans Elect, a political “party” without a platform or a candidate, but with a likely place on the ballot in almost every state. For now, it may seem the only reasonable response to the benighted Americans Elect is to ignore it (as many clearly have).
Americans Elect, the group that is pushing to get a bipartisan, "radical centrist" third-choice ticket on the presidential ballot next fall via an online convention, just held a call with reporters to trumpet that it has obtained ballot access in California, with 1.62 million signatures.
When I recently visited the spic-and-span offices of Americans Elect, the millionaire-funded initiative to get a bipartisan, online-nominated ticket on the presidential ballot next year, I asked the group's second in command, Elliot Ackerman, what he made of criticisms that the group could spoil Barack Obama's prospects. Ackerman, whose corporate-raider father Peter Ackerman founded the group, told me that someone had recently challenged him by saying, “‘Think how much this would hurt President Obama if Hillary Clinton ran with Jon Huntsman.’” Ackerman’s boyish face then broke into a grin.
The two most salient facts about Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy as the January primaries approach are that he is always first or second in the polls and that his support is stuck at about 25 percent. It’s premature to call Romney the presumptive nominee before any votes are cast, but this year’s Republican field is so weak that alternative outcomes are pretty hard to imagine. Yet the GOP base remains wary of Romney because of his moderate record in Massachusetts and the extreme pliability of his political views.
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.
[Guest post by Ezra Deutsch-Feldman.] With the sudden success of nonviolent revolution in Egypt, attention has turned to the seemingly ubiquitous influence of Peter Ackerman, a former investment banker who became something of an intellectual godfather to the Middle Eastern protest movements. His group, the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, produced instructional videos for leaders of nonviolent revolutions, held conferences where would-be revolutionaries could meet and swap tactics, and even financed a video game meant to help organizers plan and practice grassroots uprisings.
As the protests in Iran continue and reports of violence in the streets proliferate, we started to wonder what could make members of the Basij and other paramilitary groups abandon their ties to the regime and back the opposition. So, we called founding chair of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, Peter Ackerman, to see if he had any advice. First, he stressed just how important it is to flip the troops: "If loyalty shifts don't occur, ultimately the movement will sort of dissipate and vanish.
When the Rose Revolution began in the fall of 2003, there was little reason to hope for a happy ending. Twelve years earlier, the former Soviet Republic of Georgia had stepped from communism into civil war. The old Communist eminence Eduard Shevardnadze may have brought greater stability when he took over the government in 1992, but his corrupt rule also generated huge new pools of ill will among the populace. Some of this disgust manifested itself in small, peaceful street protests.