Saturday, November 26, 2011

Really Bad Idea of the Year

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.”

Presumably, this would bring a process that has survived two centuries, including a civil war, into a new technological democracy that would truly reflect the will of the American people.

Loopier still, the group wants “a mixed-party ticket,” requiring its presidential candidate to pick a running mate from the other party.

All this overlooks the fact that technology can’t fix a mess that was created, depending on ideological bias, either in 2008 by the election of Barack Obama or in 2010 of Tea Party zealots who are holding government hostage in Congress or some combination of both—-or more likely still, a generation of voters that keeps throwing tantrums for instant gratification in hard economic times.

Americans Elect assumes only a minority of Republicans have gone mad, lurching from Donald Trump to Michele Bachmann to Rick Perry to Herman Cain to Newt Gingrich in their search for a plausible candidate as some Democrats hold back enthusiasm for the reelection of their standard bearer. But there is no evidence that a Silent Majority out there knows better.

In all our free speech, including the Occupy movement, have the 99 percent proposed political solutions they are willing to support with the kind of sweat and hard work that created advances in the past?

Long ago, a social critic answered an audience complaining about those who produced a mass culture of low quality: “If you’re looking for blame, what about those who watch and read and buy this awful stuff? If they responded to better, they might get it.” (See Jon Huntsman.)

As Americans Elect proposes only more chaos, we may want to go back further to consider that "the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."

Computers won’t fix that.

Late Update: A week before Christmas, Americans Elect is on the ballot in 11 states and close to adding California as well as gathering signatures by year’s end for ballot petitions in 30 states that allow the process to be completed this year and is confident of meeting requirements in the remaining states next year.

Chaos, here we come.

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