OK, so maybe that’s a bit snide. After all, the real UnParty hasn’t even tried to pick a candidate — for anything, much less president. At least Americans Elect gave it a go.
But it didn’t work out, according to Politico:
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.
But just after a midnight deadline Monday, the group acknowledged that its complicated online nominating process had failed to generate sufficient interest to push any of the candidates who had declared an interest in its nomination over the threshold in its rules.
“Because of this, under the rules that AE delegates ratified, the primary process would end today,” said the group’s Kahlil Byrd in a statement issued at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. He seemed to leave the door open for proceeding outside the original process, however, adding, “There is, however, an almost universal desire among delegates, leadership and millions of Americans who have supported AE to see a credible candidate emerge from this process.”…
When I first heard about Americans Elect sometime last year, I was briefly excited about it. I even spent an hour or so answering the seemingly never-ending questionnaire about my political attitudes that I found on the group’s website.
But before I could even get around to writing about it on the blog, I started having my doubts, and decided to sit back, wait and see.
What gave me pause was the online process itself.
The Web is an awesome tool for many purposes. It beats snail mail all hollow. It’s a great way to shop (as long as you don’t want to examine the merchandise closely). And it enables us to do all sorts of things we couldn’t do before — such as share videos — with a wide audience. And it can be used effectively in the service of many political aims — the first serious step in any campaign is the establishment of a Web presence.
But I worry when we start using it as a substitute for analog participation. I especially don’t like the idea of online voting — or any type of voting that makes the process too easy. Perhaps I should say, too facile. I believe excessive ease breeds carelessness, and we have enough careless voting going on right now. People should have to think about how they’re going to vote, and go to a certain amount of trouble to go cast their votes.
As for forming a political movement from scratch… well, I think maybe “Ivy Day in the Committee Room” might be a better approach than an Ollie-Ollie In Come Free online invitation. If you’re trying to forge a Third Way movement, it seems like you need maximum interaction among people committed to the ideas upon which your movement is based, honing the principles involved and deciding upon standard-bearers — then turning to the public for input.
Or so it seems. Admittedly, I’m sort of thinking out loud here, and I welcome your input.
In any case, the approach that Americans Elect chose was doomed to fail. With the process wide open, it was predictable that what happened would happen — the group ended up with Ron Paul as its top vote-getter. As I’ve noted in the past, one of the best ways to boost readership of a blog is to put “Ron Paul” in a headline. Paulistas love them some Interwebs.
The main two problems with that result were 1) Rep. Paul is far on the outer fringe of one of the parties, the very opposite of the kind of centrist candidate the group was seeking, and 2) He didn’t want the group’s nomination anyway.
What the group wanted was someone of the ilk of Joe Lieberman or Lamar Alexander — either one of which could have persuaded me to vote for the ticket. But sensible guys like that do not get spontaneously nominated by a mob. You have to put them forward deliberately, and promote them in a concerted manner.