Thursday, March 15, 2012

Americans Elect Is Raising Money To Repay Its Millionaire Founders

Back on November 4th, I wrote a Friday Rant called, "Why the “Americans Elect” Third Party is Another Really Bad Idea," the title of which should be fairly self-explanatory. And now, despite the fact that I would like to see a viable third party arise in America and I like the anti-Wall Street political positions of former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, who is expected to be a contender for the Americans Elect nomination, I was saddened to see that my original suspicions about the AE effort have been confirmed. Here is BuzzFeed with the story:
A deep-pocketed group hoping to field a third candidate in November has quietly shifted its fundraising focus earlier this month to serve a curious goal, a spokeswoman has acknowledged to BuzzFeed: All money raised by Americans Elect will, for the forseeable future, be given to the millionaires who created it.
Facepalm! Here are some more details:
"The first goal" of the new measure, spokeswoman Ileana Wachtel told BuzzFeed, is to begin repayment of any supporter who has provided more than 20% of the group's budget. The group does not disclose details of its funding, but she confirmed that repayment would begin immediately. "The ultimate goal for no one to have given more than 10,000," she said.

Ackerman had given $5.5 million to the group as of last November, his son Elliott — who is its chief operating officer — said on "Hardball" at the time. The group's fundraising and spending aren't public, but the new 20% threshold and the acknowledgement that repayment has begun suggests that he, or another donor, has given more than that.

The decision to begin repaying its wealthy backers makes its current fundraising pitch difficult to explain. The only cause new contributions serve appears to be refunding large donors, a move which calls into question the promises the organization makes in a video on its fundraising page.
"Donations made to Americans Elect go only to three areas: developing the website, gathering signatures to get on the ballot in every state, and helping us bring in more delegates," says Joshua Levine, a former E*TRADE executive who is Americans Elect's Chief Technology Officer, in the video.

Americans Elect's executive director, Khalil Byrd, told BuzzFeed that the group's "core budget" for 2012 is $40 million.

"Our aspiration as an organization is to have the American people take this over...also in terms of its financing," he said.

Byrd also advised a reporter not to "get weedy" about the new rule, and said repeatedly, in response to questions about the new threshold, that the organization is "fully financed" and "transparent."

"We don't talk about how we’re financing things," he said. "We just want to make sure that people understand our aspiration."

The new 20% threshold drew a round of objections from the group's internal and external critics, who cast it as a move to raise the share of contributions from shadowy oligarchs from $10,000 to 20%.

But the group's real issue may be the opposite: It's now fundraising entirely to repay the rich, a pitch which, if it's made clear, will likely mean that it's not doing any fundraising at all.
Sigh. Here is what I said about the Americans Elect effort back on November 4th: 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.
Upon reflection, I would add that it is also painfully obvious that without the backing of some of the one-percenters, no third party movement will ever be viable. That's because in this post-Citizens United dystopia we are now experiencing, there is no way a movement truly reflective of average citizens could ever hope to raise enough cash to meaningfully compete. It should go without saying that anyone who has made a fortune under the status quo has no incentive to back a movement that might actually topple it.

The apparent intent of Americans Elect all along was completely flawed as the movement purported to be about bringing together disaffected centrists disgusted by all of the partisan warfare going on in Washington these days. So sorry, but mealy-mouthed centersim about such issues as the Iraq War, subverting the Constitution, torture, rendition and the Bush tax cuts is a big part of how we got into this predicament in the first place. As the old saying goes, you have to stand for something or you'll fall for anything.

Bonus: Once you accept the fact that American politics is nothing but a show to distract the masses, it all becomes a lot easier to take

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