Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Rant: Why the “Americans Elect” Third Party is Another Really Bad Idea

Public opinion poll after public opinion poll have clearly shown that an overwhelming majority of Americans are absolutely fed up with the two major parties. Certainly with good reason: ever since the economic crash of 2008, our so-called “leaders” have been making a grand spectacle of themselves, exchanging barbs and insults like petulant schoolchildren while doing little to alleviate the very real economic suffering being experienced by millions. In that spirit, many people dream that a third party will somehow rise up and be able to ride this wave of discontent right into the White House next year.

Some are no doubt pinning their hopes on Americans Elect, a third party effort that plans to nominate a candidate for president via the Internet. If you haven’t yet heard of this group, here is the Los Angeles Times with the details:
But there's likely to also be a wild card in this election. Americans Elect, a well-funded "virtual third party," plans to put a centrist presidential candidate on the ballot in all 50 states, and while he or she is unlikely to win the presidential election, the presence of a third candidate could still have a major impact on the outcome.

Americans Elect is a collection of Republicans, Democrats and independents who say they're fed up with the polarization that has poisoned American politics.
So far, so good, right? I mean any entity that has enough juice to at least throw a scare into the Donkey and the Elephant has to be a positive thing, right?

Oh come on, Bill, I hear you saying. Certainly you’re not going to heap your usual generous helping of scorn and derision upon this effort, right?

Sorry to disappoint you, but that is exactly what I intend to do. And here’s why:
Who will its candidate be? Bloomberg is frequently mentioned, even though he says he doesn't plan to run. So is Huntsman, even though he says he's only interested in the Republican nomination. It might be former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, who has been trying to break into the Republican race; former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who retired after denouncing both parties; or independent business figures such as Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who has called on his fellow moguls to stop giving money to politicians.
If that list does anything whatsoever to inspire you, I seriously suggest you go get yourself a check up from the neck up as soon as possible. Let me knock down these sitting duck targets one by one if I may.

First of all, you simply cannot be taken seriously as a “reform” movement if your preferred candidate is billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Not only is the man a one percenter among the one-percenters, it was his thuggish cops, led by the notorious Tony Baloney, who set the precedent for abusing peaceable Occupy Wall Street protesters. If you support this guy thinking he is going to represent any change in direction from President Hopey-Changey, someone needs to do an intervention and take your voter’s registration card away because you are clearly a danger to yourself and others.

As for former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, he is currently polling within the plus or minus margin of error of zero among the Republican contenders, so I hardly see how he would throw a scare into Obama or his Republican opponent. Similarly, although former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer has been saying the right things about the corrupting effects of money in politics, he hasn’t shown enough support to even be allowed into the Republican debates.

From the other side of America’s alleged partisan divide is former Indiana Democratic Senator Evan Bayh, the kind of mealy-mouthed corporate centrist who gives centrism such a bad name. Bayh "denounced" both parties after enthusiastically voting for the Iraq War authorization, repeatedly voting for the Patriot Act and also voting for the TARP law bailing out the big banks and Wall Street. Clearly, his little tantrum was because he was miffed that the two parties don't work together OFTEN ENOUGH to fuck over the rest of us.

And do I really need to waste the pixels stating why nominating Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz is a bad idea? Am I supposed to give this guy props because he doesn’t want to donate any of his millions to regular politicians anymore? Excuse me, but fuck him. Starbucks is a scourge, blighting the landscape with thousands of ugly stores selling overpriced swill to hipster douchebags and pretentious yuppies who wouldn’t know a good cup of coffee if someone poured it over their heads.

At the risk of beating my point straight into the ground, it ought to be painfully obvious by now to anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together that there is NO hope for any meaningful change to arise within the conventional political process. A third party founded and funded by a few disaffected one-percenters has no more legitimacy than do the Republicans or the Democrats.

I guess there is a chance that some genuine, viable grass roots political movement might arise from the Occupy protests. It is too early to tell at this point. But if it does, those who nurture it along must be ever vigilant lest it get co-opted and derailed like every other such third party effort has throughout American history.


  1. We need instant run off voting so that no vote is wasted. Google "instant runoff" or visit for more info. So few people know about this option.

  2. "Starbucks is a scourge, blighting the landscape with thousands of ugly stores selling overpriced swill to hipster douchebags and pretentious yuppies who wouldn’t know a good cup of coffee if someone poured it over their heads."

    Ha ha ha LOVE it!

    (OT: wish I could figure out how to post a comment using my login handle...)

  3. I really hoped that AE would be viable and credible. But no such luck. The "nominees" are insiders and 95% of the people posting on the FB page are ignorant freaks.

  4. Bill, I think I'm going to pull a Dave Cohen and sit the election out. However, I remember an old Seinfeld episode where George became 'opposite' George and always did the opposite of what he thought he should do, with wild success. I keep hoping we'll someday have an 'opposite candidate' who goes against every political instinct in the book and levels with the public.

  5. @Joan - Sad but true. The real problem is our ignorant electorate, NOT the candidates themselves.

  6. I disagree, and I'd hardly call this a "rant"--a mild dissent really. I say give it a chance, it may have an astringent effect on the two parties--get their attention. I have signed on--I just want to warn people, if you do use your legal voting registration name. I used a nick name, never thinking that these people are actually checking each name against voter roles!! Have to go back and fix it if I want to participate in the convention and such.

    There ARE potential problems. I've read posts in various places from some hack (like that heroine of Girl With the Tatoo) hijacking the whole process to rigging by its major financial backers.

    I don't think it can be any more flawed than the layers and layers and layers of corruption, and custom and inherited rigging that exists in the 2-party oligarchy we have.

    I figure it'll "throw" the election to Obama this time and may scare the two parties straight by 2016.

    From my short experience as a participant I believe the big problem is going to be choosing a platform NOT choosing a candidate. The other day we got an email with over 500 INFORMAL suggestions from participants. Ron Paul seemed to get the most nominations and next was Elizabeth Warren. Roemer got a good handful as I remember but I didn't actually count results.

    Roemer is my candidate. Never occurred to me until I scanned the email, but Elizabeth Warren as the Democratic VP required under their rules (since Roemer is a Republican)would be fine with me.

    Why Roemer?

  7. Ooops! Meant to delete that Why Roemer? ending -- decided my email was long enough already. Might as well answer--our suicidal trade agreements is the issue that drives ME crazy and only Roemer has getting rid of so-called "free" trade for Fair Trade as one of his platform stances vis a vis the economy and job creation.

  8. @aurora1920 - don't get me wrong about Roemer. Dude is saying at least some of the right things. I just don't see where he is much of a threat to the two-party system.

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