Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Bad Political Idea" Bombs Out

News flash: “Americans Elect, the deep-pocketed nonprofit group that set out to nominate a centrist third-party presidential ticket, admitted early Tuesday that its ballyhooed online nominating process had failed.

“The group had qualified for the general election ballot in 27 states, and had generated concern among Democrats and Republicans alike that it could wreak havoc on a close election between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.”

Buzz Feed now seizes on “7 Very Bad Predictions About Americans Elect,” by such big-name pundits as Thomas Friedman, John Heilemann and John Avlon, all of whom enthused about bringing a new kind of digital democracy to American political gridlock.

One small-name pundit thought differently. From this blog (November 26, 2011):

“If you enjoyed how Ralph Nader put George W. Bush into the White House in 2000, you may love what a group called Americans Elect is trying to do in 2012.

“The well-financed effort wants a ‘wide-scale draft movement for presidential candidates,’ but it looks more like hammering a ‘broken’ political system and smashing it to smithereens.

“Americans Elect aims, not to create a new party, but hold a ‘convention on the Internet,’ to take the choice away from primary voters and turn it over to the wisdom of those who select ‘American Idol.’”

No need for a victory lap over what I called the “Really Bad Idea of the Political Year.” Read it here and weep over wasted millions by well-intentioned people.
 
Update: Conservative columnist Ross Douthat quotes historian Richard Hofstadter half a century ago. “Third parties are like bees. Once they have stung, they die,’” noting that “populism has flowered over the last two years, but it’s mostly appeared on the right and left-wing fringes of the two parties rather than in the space between them.”

That’s not where most Americans want to go.

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