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Americans Elect announced this week that it will not field a candidate in the 2012 presidential election because no potential nominee received sufficient popular support. This is an ignominious end to an effort backed by $35 million and many high-profile political figures who sought, according to New York Times columnist Thomas Freidman, to create a viable, centrist, third-party force in American presidential politics.

The reason Americans Elect was unable to generate much popular support is simple: Not many moderates believe both that President Obama is too liberal and Mitt Romney is too conservative. Further, not many moderates feel there is no place for moderates in either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Given the narrative weight behind the idea that polarization in American politics is alienating a vast swath of the center, these claims may seem counterintuitive. However, a look at the raw data from two recent Daily Kos/SEIU State of the Nation polls provides strong supporting evidence.

First, in the Daily Kos/SEIU poll conducted from April 26-29, only 35 out of the 1,000 registered voters surveyed indicated both that President Obama is too liberal and Mitt Romney is too conservative (see questions 5 and 6, a .zip file with the raw data can be found at the bottom of the page linked). Only 18 of those 35 respondents self-identified as moderate, or about two percent of all registered voters surveyed.

Second, in the Daily Kos/SEIU poll conducted from May 10-13, only 92 of the 1,000 registered voters surveyed thought there is no place for moderates in either the Democratic or Republican parties these days (see questions 12 and 13, a .zip file with the raw data can be found at the bottom of the page linked). What's more, only 14 of those 92 self-identified as moderates.

In looking to find a viable, centrist, third-party presidential candidate for moderates who feel left out by both the Democratic and Republican parties, Americans Elect was drawing on roughly two percent of all registered voters for its base of support. As such, it is unsurprising Americans Elect was unable to generate sufficient participation to produce a nominee. While the idea that the two major parties have both abandoned the center may be popular in the opinion sections of several prominent news organizations, that idea does not have much traction with the American people.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Americans Elect is an attempt at an end run around (13+ / 0-)

    the political reality that Social Security and Medicare are popular with both Republican and Democratic voters.

  •  Pretty much calls all the inside-the-beltway (12+ / 0-)

    pundits who fetishize centrism the frauds that they are. It also demonstrates the contempt they have for the American voting public.  I stopped reading Tom Friedman years ago and I have to cherry-pick the WaPo editorial page on the rare occasions I go there.

    No, I'm not in an echo chamber, but as I get older I realize that there are some columnists I'll never learn anything from.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:19:00 AM PDT

  •  Vapid Nobility: our Folk Music & Stories Are Full (4+ / 0-)

    of examples.

    Numbskulls who believed their propaganda.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:20:35 AM PDT

  •  The problem with fielding a centrist party... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, TheCrank, Dirtandiron passion - you just don't see passionate centrists willing to volunteer their time and money for the effort!

    Beta testers wanted: get a free copy of ORGANIZE!

    by AnotherMassachusettsLiberal on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:21:15 AM PDT

  •  AE was doomed from the start (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foresterbob, Aunt Pat, bythesea

    There's just too much money and power in the hands of the two parties (well, Republican, at least) for another to rise up. Just ask the Green, Libertarian, and other also-rans.

    16 years old, proud progressive, Phillies phan.

    by vidanto on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:21:20 AM PDT

  •  Is anybody counting the percentage (9+ / 0-)

    . . . of people who suspected that American Elect was some kind of phantom PAC deliberately aiming to weaken one party or the other (the way Ross Perot and Ralph Nader did), and avoided it for that reason?

  •  There is a Centrist Inclusionist Party - - - (12+ / 0-)

    It's called the Democratic Party.  As a lifelong Independent, I can no longer tolerate the screaming radicalism, intolerance, and anti-humanist nature of the Republican Party.  The Democratic Party is the party of inclusion, for all people who struggle with their day-to-day existence to survive.

    I honestly am dumbfounded at some people that so ardently support the Republican Party, if they would spend 5 seconds looking at who is looking out for their best interests, they might change their tune.

    •  I tried to participate in AmericanSelect. (4+ / 0-)

      It was in no way open.  I don't want a "centrist", I want an aggressively socialist 99%er (Jesse LaGreca for President!).

      Not that it matters.  As long as plurality victories are allowed, no 3rd party is going to get anywhere.

      I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

      by tle on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:43:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Once upon a time Republicans stood for something (0+ / 0-)

      Now they won't stand for anything.

      "Whatever it is, I'm against it" is their actual platform.

      When Obama suggests measures to reduce the number of abortions in the US, they reach for their pitchforks. (I'm with Obama on "safe, legal, and rare" but that would mean sex education in the schools, and coverage of birth control in health care plans covering teens, which would bring on Armageddon. And the Rapture. For which they would not thank us, the ingrates.)

      Back in the time of Eisenhower the tyrannical Communist (interstate highways, troops in the South), baseball great and culture hero Jackie Robinson was a Rockefeller Republican who thought that Nixon had a better record on Civil Rights than Kennedy. He was a guest at the 1960 and 1964 Republican conventions, and later compared his feelings at the latter with those of Jews in Hitler's Germany. He said that he had never witnessed such hatred for a White man (LBJ).

      Thus the Southern Strategy was born, and thus the South is going down for the third time (Civil War, Civil Rights, Civil Unions ^_^), and taking the GOP with it. As I wrote in The Young South is Ours,  racism is in serious decline, even in Mississippi. Similarly for opposition to Gay Rights, Women's Rights, and most of the rest of the agenda of hate, bigotry, and the kleptocracy of the self-proclaimed Southern Aristocracy. The kids just don't care much any more. The old hatreds no longer cut their societies off from the American Dream. Even the Southern Baptist Convention is shrinking fairly rapidly.

      Busting the Dog Whistle code.

      by Mokurai on Sun May 20, 2012 at 12:24:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Leading the "Most Popular" on the (13+ / 0-)

    Washington Post web page is "Want to end partisan politics? Here’s what won’t work — and what will" by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein. It lists "five much-praised solutions we should avoid."  Leading that list is "A third party to the rescue" with:

    Ah, if only we had a third force, an independent movement that could speak plain truths to the public and ignite the silent, centrist majority around common-sense solutions.

    Sound familiar? In recent decades, Ross Perot, John Anderson and George Wallace have pursued a serious third-party route, although only Wallace managed to win any electoral votes. But that hasn’t stopped high-profile columnists such as Tom Friedman of the New York Times and Matt Miller of The Washington Post from singing this siren song, along with former elected officials such as Republican Christine Todd Whitman, Democrat David Boren and many others. The much-hyped Americans Elect group — which was to harness the democratic spirit of the Internet to find a centrist third-party presidential candidate for the 2012 race — is a prime example of this approach.

    One problem: Despite Americans’ disgust with our politics, about 90 percent of us identify with — or at least lean toward — one of the two major parties. Among Americans who call themselves independent, two-thirds lean to one of the parties, and behave at the polls just like the partisans. So the core audience for a third party is perhaps 10 percent of the electorate. So-called independents are classic referendum voters; when times are bad, they want to throw the bums out rather than carefully attribute responsibility or parse alternatives.

    Personally I have come to the conclusion most "independents" I have talked with are better described as "lazy" voters. They tend to claim not taking sides, voting for the "best candidate" without two key features of a thinking voter: 1) they do not spend much time looking at the full range of issues 2) there is no strategic thinking in the matter of how, regardless of personal traits, support of or election of a candidate will impact the outcome and the key issues.

    I too am a lazy voter. After the spectacle of the GOP's increasing insanity with the Clinton impeachment and attendant madness of the Newt crawling from beneath the rocks I decided I could no longer vote for anyone with an (R) even if I had some respect for them and the opponent with a (D) was somewhat suspect. As long as that (R) was present they lent weight to the status of a party that I increasingly saw as a threat to sane governance. That trend is now in full blossom so I do vote in every election and, even if I hold my nose, the (D) gets it since I do think strategically and no (I) is likely to win.

    The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

    by pelagicray on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:43:32 AM PDT

    •  People Love to Bash Independents (0+ / 0-)

      The popular trend nowadays from both extremist ends of the political spectrum, is to bash Centrists & Independents.  The bashing usually takes the form of some kind of personality deficiency, or laziness, or being too 'wishy-washy', or perhaps actually being a hidden (democrat/republic/etc.).

      Both extreme conservatives and liberals express their frustration on Independents, questioning their motives, drive, will, and commitment to the political process.

      Being an Independent, means not falling in lock-step to the latest dogmatic pronunciations from (insert party here); rather, doing everything possible to examine the issues on their own merit, rather than what people are demanding you to believe.  It necessitates objectively examining all sides of an issue, and rather than following dogma, thinking for yourself, analyzing the issue in accordance with your belief systems, and then deciding which is best.  There are good ideas from both parties, at any rate - - even a broken clock is right twice a day.

      •  You appear to be a thoughtful (10+ / 0-)

        independent, but you are falling for the media mantra that there are "extremists at both ends". How I wish that were true!

        Repeat after me: there is no left in American politics. At least, none with any power, and vanishingly little influence.

        There is only the center, the sane right, and the batshit crazy right. The center is represented by the Democratic Party. The sane right is represented by the soon-to-be retired Olympia Snowe and Richard Lugar, and possibly by a few other elderly Republicans too cowed by the rest of their party to open their mouths. The batshit crazy right is represented by the rest of the Republican Party, numerous well-funded Super PACs, Grover Norquist, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, Rush Limbaugh,...I could go on. The only two people in the federal government who could reasonably be described as "the left" are the soon-to-be-retired Dennis Kucinich, and Bernie Sanders (an independent!).

        If there were a left in American politics, you'd see people like Paul Krugman, Elizabeth Warren and Van Jones holding cabinet posts. As it is, we'll be lucky to get Warren into the Senate, where she will at least have a platform to get heard from, but almost no chance of actually making change. Krugman and Jones, as well as other reasonable voices of liberalism, are confined to the margins of "important" discourse.

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

        by sidnora on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:42:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The "independent" flaw today has several facets. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Miggles, sidnora

          First and foremost is the fact that today, regardless of the sanity and good character a "Republican" candidate might have, they will have to cast the key vote in any legislative body on majority status means their insane and far right colleagues will control matters. "Independents" only show their ignorance if they think otherwise. Every party has at least one key, must do or face discipline vote and that is on whether they take majority status or not. So, as long as that label will stick a vote for saint so-and-so is a vote for the likes of Bohner and Bachmann to have power of majority voices.

          Second, the issues are too important and the other party's internal discipline is too ruthless to make it likely a member wearing their label will be anything other than a loyal foot soldier. I remember the day when even staunch Republicans or Democrats could join with the other party on some issue in which they felt was important to solve for the nation even if it was not exactly what they or their party wished. No longer. With the conditions above applying in legislatures a vote for any Republican is a vote for the TP/GOP agenda that I personally consider dangerous for the nation and in some cases just flat "Anti American" as far as being in the spirit of the founders. Leading in that is the not too veiled Christianist fundamentalist agenda to impose particular religious views on everyone through the power of the state.

          There are others, but those two are sufficient for me to, reluctantly, conclude that in my remaining lifetime "yellow dog Democrat" is the only option. I wish it weren't so, but reality does sometime just suck.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:15:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I couldn't agree more. (0+ / 0-)

            In fact, I gave the comment above mine a respectful reply only because I was too lazy to look up the poster's comment history. I've seen too many of those "both parties extremes" comments that were troll posts. So, this one got the benefit of the doubt as a rather unsophisticated newbie.

            Now, to cheer you up even more, you really should read this Jeffrey Toobin piece on SCOTUS and Citizens United. PS - I was kidding about the "cheer you up" part. In fact it depressed the hell out of me.

            "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

            by sidnora on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:44:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  "Independent" was not a bad idea back in the days (0+ / 0-)

        before one party became bat shit insane. I used to vote for a select few Republicans in the past, particularly when there was a personal integrity issue with a Democrat. Now?

        We are in a situation such as I faced during a brief residence in Louisiana long ago when even voting for the crook is necessary because the alternative is simply too odious. Now, voting for the Democrat is necessary because the alternative, if not in the person in the group that that person's party label and vote for majority status will put in power, is too odious. The only place it is strategically safe to be "independent" in the old way is in some state and local elections where majority status for the TP/GOP is not going to happen and there is either a true independent or one of the increasing rare reasonable Republicans running and the Democrat is flawed.

        Uh uh. In such times being "independent" in that way through silence by not voting or voting for even a reasonably good person who will lend support to power by an odious and dangerous group is drivel. It is being a neutral in a battle that if lost puts some real bad characters in power.

        The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

        by pelagicray on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:48:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Historically, that day (0+ / 0-)

          came in the 1800 Presidential campaign, when the corporatist Federalists claimed that Jefferson was going to burn down the churches, just for starters. For Republicans, it was evident at the 1964 Republican Convention, which Jackie Robinson (a Rockefeller Republican and guest at the convention) compared with Hitler's Germany.

          Busting the Dog Whistle code.

          by Mokurai on Sun May 20, 2012 at 12:38:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "That day" has come several times in our history. (0+ / 0-)

            We, as most nations, go through cycles with some much more benign than others and some much worse.

            A human failing is not seeing the change and continuing a practice that may have been valid in one time or place that has become invalid due to change. Being "independent" with respect to political party may be perfectly valid at a time and place with reasonable and balanced people representing two views and willing to work compromises for common good. It becomes invalid and dangerous when one side or another goes rabid.

            For example, I was a young independent in the South in the early 1960s and often voted Republican even though I strongly disagreed with their distaste for New Deal era economics. The alternative was Dixiecrat Dems that were more often than not blatant racists. Ironically, with the smashing success of the "Southern Strategy" in which the TP/GOP has embraced so many of those old Dixiecrat values--except economic--I've become a yellow dog Democrat.

            The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

            by pelagicray on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:15:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  and a clock that loses (0+ / 0-)
        even a broken clock is right twice a day.
        And a clock that loses one second a day is right only once every 236 years.  I think republicans are right about three times that often.
      •  I too WAS an independent (0+ / 0-)

        And I probably held onto that label longer than I should have.  

        I liked the idea of actually having a choice.  That I could vote for the person who was closest to my values and ideals.

        In practice it meant I voted 80% Democratic, 15% Republican, and 3% others.  I tend not to vote against an unopposed candidate.  This was in Indiana and now Texas, a Red State and an even Redder state.

        Looking back, that choice was an illusion.  The choice has been between bat shit insane and someone I disagreed with on an issue or two for almost all of those races.  Once moving to Texas and voting for people on the State Board of Education and Railroad commissions down here, it got even worse.

        I should have been an avowed Democrat for years, but I thought I was being reasonable.  Even when there was a particularly stupid choice for office (like Chris Chocola), I'd think the other side would pick a better candidate the next time around.

        I could only stand being wrong so many times.  

    •  Great column. It's the difference (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      foresterbob, sidnora, pelagicray, Matt Z

      between actual experts (Mann and Ornstein), and pundits who think that reading their own newspaper and talking to elites at cocktail parties gives them insight into political processes (Friedman, et. al.).

      You are reading my signature line. #hashtag

      by cardinal on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:04:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  great link - thanks! (0+ / 0-)

      An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

      by mightymouse on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:04:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm so pleased (3+ / 0-)

      that this piece is getting plenty of eyeballs - and tip to you for beating me to posting the link.

      The other reason why no AE-type effort can ever work, even leaving aside whether it was really what it claimed to be, is that the structure of our government and electoral system inexorably drives towards two, and only two, parties.  In the rare instances that third parties have achieved national power, it has always been by taking over the power of one of the two previously existing parties. IN those cases the previously existing party soon withered away.

      The only way to have a functional national third party would be to switch to a parliamentary system. I'm not holding my breath on that one.

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:11:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are structural problems that must be (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        addressed to get out of this mess. There is another interesting article, some days ago, "Is the filibuster unconstitutional?" by Ezra Klein, 15 May 2012. A key take away bit:

        That majority vote played into another principle, as well: the “finely wrought” compromise over proper representation. At the time of the country’s founding, seven of the 13 states, representing 27 percent of the population, could command a majority in the Senate. Today, with the filibuster, 21 of the 50 states, representing 11 percent of the population, can muster the 41 votes to stop a majority in the Senate. “The supermajority vote requirement,” Bondurant argues, thus “upsets the Great Compromise’s carefully crafted balance between the large states and the small states.”
        While I too sometimes like the parliamentary system I also know it has structural flaws and stands a snowball's chance in hell here. The key thing missing from our system now, and at several times in our history, is the precise mechanism for encouraging cooperation on major national issues while allowing a sometimes more sane minority to actually pull a "Wait a damn minute here!"

        I wish almost weekly we'd had a filibuster on the Patriot Act and forced some analysis of what are still some pure madness implementations. At the same time the use of it as done daily in Senate actions now is approaching failed state parliamentary helplessness on our national ability to actuall solve problems reasonably well.

        The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

        by pelagicray on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:54:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Once again, we're in complete agreement. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I hope you didn't interpret my previous comment to mean that I'd prefer a parliamentary system. That has its own flaws, and we have plenty of examples of that from other countries.

          I prefer our system, if it were functioning the way it was designed to. That's pretty ironic coming from me, a very liberal person, since it was designed to push everything towards the center. But if it were functioning the way it was designed to, my liberal position would have a lot more influence over the center's product than it does currently.

          Lots of problems with the filibuster: not only the change in population balance you point to, but also the "automatic filibuster" and Harry Reid's failure to honor his promise to do filibuster reform in 2010 (I was in the room in Las Vegas when Joan McCarter dragged the commitment out of him). I have little sympathy for his boo-hooing over it now, or I would if it weren't also hurting the rest of us so badly.

           Thanks for the link, I am now off to read the estimable Mr. Klein.

          "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

          by sidnora on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:20:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Back (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and Klein raised the point I find most interesting in the possibility of having this argued before SCOTUS: would all those vaunted "originalists" re-emerge from the cocoons of hypocrisy they've spun around themselves these past few years to declare the filibuster unconstitutional? I'm not holding my breath on that one, either.

          "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

          by sidnora on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:29:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I fear, with some reason, the staunch originalists (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            are even more staunch in their pretty far right corporate agenda. They seem to have a bit of a knack for being originalists when it suits them and radical when that suits the agenda.

            I do see the rather interesting constitutional question there though. Evolution of the rule and population distribution has certainly unbalanced the original large/small state compromise.

            The fact that 11% of the population can consistently and absolutely stop address of serious national questions makes even republican democracy a complete mockery. In raw numbers, not political leaning, with Census' obsolete RESIDENT POPULATION--JULY 2008 numbers popped into a spreadsheet and sorted it means:

            New Mexico
            West Virginia
            New Hampshire
            Rhode Island
            South Dakota
            North Dakota
            and a split Iowa Senate delegation representing 2008 populations estimated at 32,637,772 could freeze legislation strongly supported by a population of 270,870,120 (rest of the states and that split Iowa). And that does not count the D.C. population, larger than Wyoming's, taxed without representation, at 591,833 that is just dragged along without even a voice in that body. So make that really 271,461,953 (not counting territories) that can be silenced by just representatives of 32,637,772 people.

            Yeah, think about that. Just truncate and think of 270 people strongly advocating a course and 32, with no justification whatsoever required, just saying "screw you"! I have to admit there are times we may need that saying "Wait a minute! Think!" (and we have had such events that saved us from a blunder) as when the nation rushed to crush many of its values after 9/11, but this is a permanent no, no, no, no . . . one not even moderated by a need to actually stand on the floor and speak.

            The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

            by pelagicray on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:12:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  A very good point, although the chronology (0+ / 0-)

        is that the Federalists collapsed before the Whigs formed, and the Whigs collapsed before the Republicans formed. Note that the Federalists, the Whigs, and the Republicans were all explicitly corporatist parties that got on the wrong side of social and other issues (immigration, civil rights, slavery,...), because the willfully ignorant racists and bigots were easy to mislead into supporting the 1%.

        Busting the Dog Whistle code.

        by Mokurai on Sun May 20, 2012 at 12:43:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'll give you the fine points of the chronology (0+ / 0-)

          although the succeeding parties were coalescing as the older ones were failing, there were other lesser parties around at the same time, and no crystal ball with which to foretell which ones would succeed, and which would be subsumed into the successful ones.

          However, I disagree with your characterization of any of them as "corporatist", a concept which didn't exist in the early decades of a US that had been founded by people deeply suspicious of all corporations (think British East India Company for an example). What few corporations did get chartered were well-defined and carefully restricted.

          While the parties you mention were certainly pro-commerce, they were also pro-development, a stance that could be viewed as progressive in the context of the times. And they were not "on the wrong side" of all social issues. Though they were, to a greater or lesser degree, anti-immigration, they were certainly not on the wrong side of the slavery issue. That dubious distinction can be awarded to the various iterations of the Democratic Party, which was dominated by land-owning, slave-owning Southern agriculturalists. The successive business parties, by contrast, were dominated by Northern industrialists, most of whom hailed from free states anyway. Certainly by the time the Republicans organized, they were predominantly, and in some cases radically, abolitionist.

          "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

          by sidnora on Mon May 21, 2012 at 06:45:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  "[N]o (I) is likely to win" - except in Vermont (0+ / 0-)

      Somehow Bernie Sanders managed to break all the "rules" and get elected all the way up to the US Senate. (He started, IIRC, as mayor of Burlington - or at least that's when anybody outside Burlington first heard of him.)

      So yes, it's possible, but it takes a helluva lot of work, an absolute commitment to keep at it as long as it takes, a coherent "populist" platform, and a mediagenic personality. Know anyone like that in YOUR neighborhood? If so, support them to the max and try to get other people to do so too.

      (Around here we've had way too many dilettantes who try once, don't get elected, and give up.)

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:41:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  They should concentrate on congress (4+ / 0-)

    Trying to elect a president is foolish.  Supporting moderate conservatives as independents in states/districts where a Democrat has no chance and doing the opposite in areas controlled by the left may have better results.  You would only need to elect a small amount of people to get real results.

    •  WHAT "areas controlled by the left"? (0+ / 0-)

      Somebody is delusional if they think that even Vermont isn't solidly centrist. (Bernie Sanders is a '70's Democrat in a 2012 batshit-insane world.)

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:47:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  EPIC FAIL measured in Friedman Units (6+ / 0-)
    Write it down: Americans Elect. What did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music, what did to pharmacies, Americans Elect plans to do to the two-party duopoly that has dominated American political life — remove the barriers to real competition, flatten the incumbents and let the people in. Watch out.
    ...write it down: what the Third Way did for third rails. Watch out.

    slutty voter for a "dangerous president"; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare." 政治委员, 政委!

    by annieli on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:53:48 AM PDT

  •  Americans Elect gives new meaning to "A Fool and (3+ / 0-)

    His Money are soon Parted." I'm rather enjoying knowing that one or more hedge fund managers are out $9.5 million or was it $20 million or $30 million, who knows?  Americans Elect didn't set any precedent for transparency, unless it was the lack of any meaningful transparency. It was a political scam from the moment it was conceived. Lots of bad ideas surface at cocktail parties of the very serious people.

    Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself. Harry Truman

    by ratcityreprobate on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:56:49 AM PDT

  •  It depends on what (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    you mean by "party."

    While the idea that the two major parties have both abandoned the center may be popular in the opinion sections of several prominent news organizations, that idea does not have much traction with the American people.
    The party in the electorate still has many moderates, and polarization of voters tends to be exaggerated in the press. However, there's absolutely NO room for moderates among Republican candidates/officeholders at any level. Democrats are moving at a slower pace (having a moderate president will complicate things, obviously). But the massive attrition of blue dogs in the last couple of cycles (including the current one), and the general acceptance of "moderate," "centrist," and "blue dog" as class-A epithets among progressive activists, are certainly moving us in that direction.

    You are reading my signature line. #hashtag

    by cardinal on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:58:32 AM PDT

  •  Americans Elect was a Republican outfit (4+ / 0-)

    fronting as a third party "both-parties-are-bad" system. Their unspoken but not-so-subtle goal was to help Romney get elected by siphoning votes from President Obama.  Most people knew that  and were were not about to be "Nadered" as they were in 2000.

    Furthermore, the secrecy behind their financial backers raised many an eyebrow...

  •  need a "listen to talk radio" category in polls (0+ / 0-)

    i suppose the teabagger category is a lot of that, but it could be very telling. generally it's been about 15 -25% over the last 20 years but that proportion could really skew a  poll if zip codes were selected for it

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:01:18 AM PDT

  •  money (0+ / 0-)

    If they had big money behind it--and spent it freely--Americans could have been convinced.  We are a gullible people, half of us live in a fantasy world of false birth certificates and live in a planet without climate change.

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:05:17 AM PDT

  •  Not to mention that Americans Elect (0+ / 0-)

    Attracted candidates like Rocky Anderson. No one would describe him as a moderate. I used to like the guy but an interaction with him adjusted that feeling. He was regretfully invited to speak to speak at our local Apr. 23rd Unite Against The War on Women rally, an inappropriate speaker for several reasons I learned. He began with his Obama is a traitor and a murderer rhetoric and mistakenly assumed it was a Rocky for President rally.The previous speakers standing & seated near the podium got up, rolled up their banners and walked off while he was speaking. A strong contingent in the crowd shouted out that the rally wasn't about him and to speak to topic. It was entirely unfortunate and sucked all of the air out of the event.

    •  I think it tells you everything you need to know (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      about AE that the most popular candidate they attracted was Ron Paul. Not exactly a moderate anything.

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:15:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think it died because it was boring! n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe wobblie, happymisanthropy

    To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. -Joseph Chilton Pearce

    by glitterscale on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:08:14 AM PDT

  •  AE misdiagnosed voters' frustration (4+ / 0-)

    The problem that voters have with their so-called representatives is not that the parties are too far apart ideologically.  Indeed, it's very challenging to argue that any "hard left" wing exists in Democratic Party.  And many voters don't get as worked up about the left vs. right dichotomy as AE might imagine.  

    The problem more people see with government is that it doesn't really respond to the public will.  The ultra-wealthy and large corporations have enormous influence over both parties (not equal influence, of course, but it's still there), and their desires frequently over-ride public opinion.  Legal definitions aside, the problem is what most people would call corruption.

    There is still an opening for independent candidates who can self-finance, but it has little to do with the ideological middle.  If he weren't quite so loopy, Ross Perot would have been president.  However, the system as a whole is geared to prevent the emergence of a viable third party.  Under the circumstances, a serious movement within the Democratic Party (or within both parties??) to reclaim the democratic process would seem more practical.  Of course, the devil is always in the details.  

    There are thousands hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root. -Thoreau

    by Frameshift on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:20:26 AM PDT

    •  Would rec this 100x if I could. eom (0+ / 0-)

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:16:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the Democrats are the centrist party and (0+ / 0-)

    have been for years

  •  I have a better idea than Americans Elect (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frameshift, Fireshark

    I have a better and more sustainable idea than Americans Elect. I launched a website called for bottom-up development of government policy. The 99 percent means substantially everybody and is meant to connote direct democracy.

    Differences between my thing and Americans Elect:
    (1) Self-funded, no $35mm budget
    (2) People contribute their own policy ideas, instead of having a list provided top-down
    (3) The target is not just the presidential election, but any national, state, or local election (Congress is key)
    (4) The website will provide functionality for all candidates, and I will create profiles with policies drawn from public sources for candidates who don't choose to participate directly. The site will provide users with assessments of like-mindedness with each candidate. A major goal is for people to be able to go to the site in the weeks before the election, vote on 5-10 things, and get personalized recommendations of who/what they ought to vote. This will be an improvement on newspaper endorsements or blindly voting along party lines.

    See how it works at

    There's a diary about it here:

    •  Have you gotten any traction? (0+ / 0-)

      It seems to me that many of the 99% are not political and don't want to be organized into electoral directions.   The 99% indicate that they just don't want to participate in this farce.

      The Muslim said "I wished I had met Christ before I met the Christians" - Rev. Marvin Winins

      by captainlaser on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:39:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just launched; enough content to be interesting... (0+ / 0-)

        ...but broader traction remains to be seen. The 99% is a general concept, broader than OWS. Simply as a website to propose, discuss, and vote on policy ideas, I think it should have broad appeal.

        Join and spread the word. Why not? It's an interesting site.

        •  I think you need to retain the 99% in the title. (0+ / 0-)

          It can hardly be more inclusive.  (Unless it were the 100%).

          I joined and will see how it will go.  Also passed on to some NYC activists (who you may or may not know).

          Can you add "Environment" to your dropdown of topics?

          You need to pull in "Greens".

          You might also look at "" which tried to do this about 2 years ago.  The analysis in this diary is useful anyone trying to create a community of discussion outside the two party system.

          The Muslim said "I wished I had met Christ before I met the Christians" - Rev. Marvin Winins

          by captainlaser on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:57:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, that's the idea of the name (0+ / 0-)

            Everybody. Thanks for joining & sharing!

            Environment is a category, there just haven't been any ideas submitted for it yet. On the submit idea page, you'll see Environment, and it will show up in the content filter once there's an idea for it.

            Let me know if you have any other questions or comments. You can message me on site or here.

            •  The 99% was brilliant framing period (0+ / 0-)

              by OWS which I hope those who fight for social justice retain forever or at least until the numbers reflect a more reasonable and fair reality.

              "99%" speaks to the fact that WHETHER YOU KNOW IT OR NOT, you are being oppressed by the 1% who hold almost all the cards in the game.

              Most members of the 99% aren't aware they are members. They are manipulated to vote in politicians who would like to export all their jobs, reduce their wages even lower if they could, dismantle even the crap healthcare reform that we got, reduce even our pathetic  pretense of regulation, and ride the express train back to Dickensian England.

              The people who are mad enough to label themselves as the 99% are the ones with self awareness of our common plight and the underlying causes. They're the lemmings holding signs saying "No cliffs!" while the rest of the herd surges past them.

              “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

              by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:28:25 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  The name is perhaps a problem (0+ / 0-)

        People think the 99% is an exclusive phrase and think "that's those guys, not me." I am not affiliated with OWS. Feel free to suggest a better name for the website.

  •  great analysis (0+ / 0-)

    Great analysis is something that points out something that is obvious, but that you hadn't realized before.  Your article is "great analysis".

    Too often, we are presented with something called "analysis" in the media and it is nothing more than lobbying the public.

  •  For all the talk of "too liberal" and (0+ / 0-)

    "too conservative", I am reminded of my prof Leon Litwack's comment on the 1968 election:

    Every four years you are given the opportunity to choose between a Blue Cadillac and a Red Cadillac.
    The differences between Obama and Romney are real and will be decisive on my vote. But there is no real socialist or green or, god help us, fascist candidate who could get more than a few percent of the vote.

    European countries have real spectra of candidates for a wider range of political theories.  The US just has shades of "liberal/conservative" that can be elected.

    We don't need a "moderate" candidate between the two parties since there is almost no room for someone to fit there.

    When neo-fascists can start getting elected President, it's 1934 all over again and I'm out of here.

    The Muslim said "I wished I had met Christ before I met the Christians" - Rev. Marvin Winins

    by captainlaser on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:36:56 AM PDT

  •  As much as it annoys us, it was good strategy (0+ / 0-)

    for Obama  to hug the left side of the gop very closely.
    They kept moving to the right to try and open up a distinct gap, and he finally pivoted back to a central position.
    That prevented the possibility of a centrist 3rd party candidate, which would have been inevitable if Obama had been as left as the gop is right.
    Romney gets credit as a centrist only because nobody believes him when he asserts his severe conservatism.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:40:44 AM PDT

  •  A Centrist Majority. Austerity Economics. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miggles, Fireshark, happymisanthropy

    So many beliefs of the elite have little to do with data.

  •  The owners of American's Elect™, have picked up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    their ball and are going home. Maybe if the American's Elect™  peons learn their place the owners of American's Elect™ will let them vote next time. Maybe.

  •  No, both parties have abandoned the LEFT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Democratic Party, god bless it, it's mine and I still love it, has moved nationally to embrace the utter mainstream of governance philosophy, which is a moderately incremental good-government approach which is too harsh on defense and security and not humane enough on programs to support its neediest citizens, which by any measure of the last 80 years is a centrist program (in fact still a bit center-right when you look at the ratio of security/military expenditures to infrastructure and human needs.)

    The Republican Party, which 40 years ago boasted some of the great humanitarians of a previous age and blended a mixture of its business-oriented economic saws with a realistic approach to how to relieve human misery, and which was part of a truly bipartisan foreign policy effort, is now to the right of Genghis Khan on pretty much every issue.

    Both parties have retreated from the "left" wings, which is to say the promise of progressive reform and a fair balance of power in society. That the Democrats ended up in the "center", which is to say a moderate incrementalist view, of what is by far the consensus of 90% of Americans about the major priorities and goals of government, is the main reason the false claim that "the two parties have drifted too far away from the center" has rung hollow.

    In the meantime, when I see an effort to fund a "third way" these days, my hackles immediately go up and I suspect a direct or indirect effort to siphon off enough voters to undercut the Democrats and our truly-majority message, which is of course undercut by the infusion of money on the other side and thus makes a certain number of dissatisfied folks in the middle ripe for picking off.

    Of course, if you're on the fence in today's society, you're not likely to be activated enough to both, which is the other reason by this putrid, pusilanimous, rhetorically broken effort failed. "What do we want? MODERATION! When do we want it? WHENEVER IT'S MUTUALLY CONVENIENT!" Nope, no marching in the streets here.

    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:53:16 AM PDT

  •  Americans elect. (5+ / 0-)

    I joined americans elect cause it seemed reasonable to start a new party to insert some more information/ideas in our extremely tedious political system.
    I actually completed there long questionnaire in the hope that I could possibly make a difference in our long downhill slide to a plutocracy/theocracy that's been brewing since the right wing has co-opted any  movement in our economy, (1980's).
    When completed I attempted to find out who were the funders, organizers, governing boards or whatever, and was remarkably unsuccessful.
    Sooooo, no ability to discover who was behind this potentially good idea, I quit their website as I am unwilling to be led by another secretive group of money launderers to pick someone I probably would have disagreed with anyway.
    This elite moneyed core of ideologues has caused me to experience complete issue fatigue. I am not interested in every little issue becoming an extreme emergency that I must take a stand on now.
    I long for a reasonable dialog on how to fix our wonderful experiment in  freedoms and some transparency in our process of governing.
    Don't get me wrong, I am going to vote for Obama/Biden, They have proven to me that they are willing to take the wrath of the morons who want to drive us working people and women into the ground to make a point.
    I am only looking for a country that comes together to work and leave a better country for our children and grandchildren to have a decent life and the ability to buy food, gas, and have medical care when it is needed without having to fight so hard for every tiny little thing.

  •  Alternate theory on why it failed (0+ / 0-)

    I found the web site less than "user friendly".  Signing up was a long and difficult process, and once registered it was still somewhat difficult to navigate.  It doesn't surprise me that they didn't get enough registered "voters".

    Others may disagree, but that was my experience.  It may not be as big a factor as the prevailing sentiments reflected in the polls, but I suspect it was at least contributory.

  •  They have abandoned center in terms of governing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    at least the GOP has.  On very few issues is the Democratic party out of line with the mainstream of Americans.  The GOP, on the other hand, only claims to be governing in the interests of the mainstream of America, lies during speeches and advertisements, and basically relies on the public's lack of information regarding what they are doing or simply misinforming them of that fact.  The only time they suffer is when the media reluctantly stops doing its job as national stenographer and actually reports on the facts.  Unfortunately that doesn't happen that often, and media watchdogs like Politifact have become captured interests of the right, bending over backward to find issue with Democratic statements, but dismissing equally fallacious statements by the right.

    Basically, until the electorate makes an effort to actually become well informed, or the media actually does its job, we will continue to get biased outcomes when governing.

    The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - FDR. Obama Nation. -6.13 -6.15

    by ecostar on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:52:59 AM PDT

  •  And the "moderate" BS meme just keeps on (4+ / 0-)

    churning along.

    The reason Americans Elect was unable to generate much popular support is simple: Not many moderates believe both that President Obama is too liberal and Mitt Romney is too conservative. Further, not many moderates feel there is no place for moderates in either the Republican or Democratic parties.
    Gee, ya think?

    This whole "moderate" meme -- along with the "lesser of two evils" meme are just two of the bats used to beat progressive ideals into the ground.

    It's bullshit.

    What is a moderate?  I imagine in fantasy land a moderate might make the following pronouncement:

    Theoretical Moderate:

    Gosh, I think that universal coverage is too liberal.. but at the same time, I have no problem with continuing our wars of aggression overseas.. that's just my moderate position.
    Or, how about this one:
    I'm not necessarily opposed to Glass-Steagal per se, but I do find it to be "too liberal" a policy, despite having been around for nearly 70 years.. how about some Faux Reform Moderates Can Believe In?
    Here's the thing, and it should really wake folks up to how the game of "moderate" is played to pound any semblance of progressive policy into the ground:

    Show me how the GOP attracts moderates.

    Go on.  Cite a policy they advocate that moderates could "agree with".  

    Tax Cuts?  Expanded Security State?  Patriot Act?  Indefinite Detention?  Rendition?  Privatizing our school system?  Anti Union legislation?  Attacking women's rights?

    You think they won control of the House by running as "moderates"?

    You think Bush got elected twice because he appealed to "moderates"?

    Remember the "Who would you rather have a beer with?"

    Yeah.  It sure are fuck wasn't the "moderate" they wanted to have a beer with, was it?

    Funny how that "moderate" meme only applies to progressive policies, isn't it?

    Odd coincidence that.

    Almost as strange as how the filibuster only seems to stop progressive policies, eh?


    There is a reason that Obama's Chiefs of Staff come from Wall Street Banks. And it has nothing to do with Change We Can Believe In.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Sun May 20, 2012 at 09:25:51 AM PDT

  •  Still, I love it as an alternative (0+ / 0-)

    to the same ol' lame ol' Two Party nominating system that gives us virtually zero choices. Granted, this year's TeaBirther Party offered a slew of candidates, but they ALL came from the same pile. of crap. The House. The Senate. And the Goobs.
    At least America Elect offers an alternative to the same ol' lame ol', and it is forseeable that a 3rd party candidate could emerge from that process. So, it gets my vote as an alternative where none other exists.

  •  A true Centerist Party would be farther to the ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    LEFT than either the Center-Right Democrats or the Far-Right Republicans. And that's not what these people were looking for!

    What the USA needs is an Anti-Corporatist party. This may work in France -- but it ain't gonna happen here. And all I can say is ain't that a shame.

  •  LOL (0+ / 0-)

    $35 million to fail to realize that the Republicans have no centrists and the Democrats already have the President. Methinks finding a "centrist" was never the plan...

    The problem with going with your gut as opposed to your head is that the former is so often full of shit. - Randy Chestnut

    by lotusmaglite on Sun May 20, 2012 at 11:23:52 AM PDT

  •  real reason (0+ / 0-)

    I forget which commentator said it, but the reason Americans Elect failed is that our two parties are conservative and centrist, not conservative and liberal.  There is need for a second centrist party.  

    If we could get a true center-left party then there might be room for a center-right party like Americans-elect was trying to be.

    Democrats *do* have a plan for Social Security - it's called Social Security. -- Ed Schultz

    by FredFred on Sun May 20, 2012 at 12:15:00 PM PDT

  •  Give Matt Miller his due (0+ / 0-)

    He has a good post-mortem on Americans Elect.

    What makes it of interest is that Miller is reaching for a new definition of "centrist": not a sliver of policy positions wedged in between the right and the left, but a "radical center" that straddles these positions and is willing to draw from both. Currently there's nobody willing to put everything on the table like this. Examples:

    If you think we need to slow the growth of Medicare and other health-care spending substantially (by bringing it more in line with other advanced nations’ per capita health spending), and use some of the savings to shrink tuition at public colleges to an affordable level (and not just save ten bucks a month on indebted students’ interest costs, which is what we’re debating today) — who’s your candidate?

    If you think we should not guarantee the next generation of retirees a 30 percent real increase in initial Social Security benefits (as we do today) before we’ve first guaranteed that every child in America has access to high-quality pre-schools and great teachers (in part by recruiting top college students to careers in the classroom and paying them up to $150,000 a year), which party represents your voice?

    If you think any leader serious about American renewal needs to make ending the Senate filibuster a centerpiece of his or her campaign, because we can’t govern a modern society when a minority representing as little as 15 percent of the country [actually, I think the real figure is 11%] can stop anything from being done, where is your champion?

    Believe me, I'm highly suspicious of these third-party initiatives that always seem like stealth attacks by the right (Think Bloomberg is going to put higher taxes for the rich on the table?) But what we have clearly isn't working. And I'm not convinced that simply electing more corporate Democrats is the answer.

    Anyway, expanding the debate seems like a good idea.

    What is valued is practiced. What is not valued is not practiced. -- Plato

    by RobLewis on Sun May 20, 2012 at 12:32:47 PM PDT

  •  We already have a viable centrist moderate party (0+ / 0-)

    It's called the Democratic Party.

  •  That's not how or why Americans-Elect failed (0+ / 0-)

    I get the impulse to want to extrapolate from polls to explain all kinds of stuff -- but that's not why Americans-Elect failed. The poll doesn't ever really discuss how it failed. They failed to bind a base AND a candidate. Part of that is simply because most of the public hasn't heard of it. For the rest of us, it serves no purpose, but both truths spring from a larger failing.

    There was no raison-d'etre. It's not enough to have disenchantment with the two parties. You have to offer a viable alternative. To be viable, that alternative has to be a meaningful alternative. It's not enough to be not Democratic and not Republican. Any third-party or independent candidate has to offer an agenda -- must stand for something.  If you're looking to form a moderate, centrist party, you have to tell the people (and any candidates) what that means. Calling it moderate or centrist is meaningless without real content.  Otherwise you offer no reason to join the effort with money, boots on the ground, or votes.

    At least, independent candidates start from a position of having positions. A "Draft" program, like Americans-Elect, must stand for something. They must attract people to a cause and find a candidate who will lead the cause. Otherwise, why would the putative candidate agree to the draft. The exception to the rule is when there is a substantial draft movement for an in individual. It's hard to conceive of this outside of a party, but in history there may be a few Americans who could be so compelling that independent-minded folks would push that draft. Really, you have to have a candidate so compelling that all that is waiting is for a campaign to come together to draft that person. There is no such person now.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

    by FischFry on Sun May 20, 2012 at 08:28:58 PM PDT

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