Lost in the dull roar of crashing Euro-economies and media trivia was the quiet failure of Americans Elect a couple of weeks ago.
Americans Elect and the death of the third party movement
Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake (Washington Post)
It ended with a whimper, not a bang.
Late Thursday night, Americans Elect, a much-ballyhooed group dedicated to securing ballot access for a serious third-party presidential candidate in 2012, issued a statement acknowledging failure.
That’s a somewhat remarkable — and ignominious — end for a group that carried a number of high-profile backers in the political strategist and donor community and who, as of earlier this month, had secured ballot access in more than half of the 50 states.
And it’s a telling indication that, despite widespread discontent with the two-party system and near-record numbers of people saying that they would be open to voting for a third-party candidate, the future of another major political party emerging any time soon is more pipe dream than practical.
“Good and qualified people see politics as so poisonous today that they simply don’t want to participate,” explained Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and a major player in the Americans Elect movement. “It’s just damn difficult to break the iron grip of the two-party system
McKinnon added: “This may not be a death knell for third-party efforts, but it’s a pretty good shot to the groin.”
Receiving emails from Americans Elect in the spam folder was always a thrilling ‘so what?’ moment. There was never a prize in the Cracker-Jack box: outside of the novelty of the process itself Americans Elect had nothing to offer but the central contradiction of modernity. (John Michael Greer):
In the 1970s, environmental activists facing equally powerful and well-funded corporate interests built a mass movement and forced through landmark legislation. In the United States, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and a bevy of less famous but equally important environmental bills crashed through a wall of corporate opposition and became the law of the land. That sort of success is something that today’s environmental activists can only daydream about, and it was accomplished using the same tools that activists use today—with one important addition: the environmental activists of that time recognized that the most effective way to advocate any given change was to make that change in their own lives first. That awareness was not limited to the environmental movement; it was pioneered by the feminists of the 1960s and 1970s, in fact, who turned it into a core principle of their movement — “the personal is political” — and leveraged it efficiently to bring about dramatic if still incomplete gains in women’s rights. They recognized, as did many other activists in those years, that if your lifestyle supports a system, and depends on that system, any efforts you may think you’re making to force significant change on that system will be wasted breath.
We need new political thinking. The current management approaches have failed and will continue to do so until the status quo is exhausted:
– The current parties both in the US and elsewhere have outlived their usefulness, they are captured by special interests and have nothing to offer but rehashes of proven-failed policies. Their group-narrative is obsolete, it is unable to offer a workable vision for the future that doesn’t include non-stop advertising, ‘growth’ and consumption.
– Non-policy alternatives to the status-quo cannot meet the scale of the problem. At the same time, the alternatives suggest status-quo failure and are fiercely resisted by the establishment. The problem — as pointed out by the Nicole Foss — is redundant claims on real wealth, wealth being resource access.
– The status quo represents a fashion preference and entrenchment of a false but internally logical supporting doctrine. Our pop art-modernist doctrine is intolerant and hegemonic, it can only be relieved by system failure which the doctrine itself guarantees.
It doesn’t take much to start a political party, just a few people:
TEA PARTY February 1st?
So long as we have an inauguration drawing this sort of crowd and not a protest about our government blowing $700 billion of our dollars so that The Pigmen of Wall Street can continue to rob our nation blind, then saddle us with the bill when their bets go bad, we will see no solution.
I cannot take credit for the idea floated on the forum, but I do like it.
It is time for We The People to send a strong message to Washington DC – no more. No more loading our children and grandchildren with debt. No more bailing out speculators and bankers who made bets they knew were unsafe at the time. No more bailing out people who came to Congress to demand the removal of leverage limits, got what they asked for, then blew themselves up with the very leverage they demanded to be able to use.
Therefore, on February 1st, which is more than enough time for Barack Obama to be seated in his chair in the West Wing, I am recommending an act of peaceful, lawful and yet unmistakable protest.
That is, to mail President Obama one teabag. Nothing dangerous, nothing illegal – just one teabag.
Let’s describe a new US political party:
– The new party will be just that, a real political party, not a scaffold for a particular presidential candidate. The overall goal is to have legitimate party candidates running in all fifty states for national, statewide and local/municipal elections … in every election. Otherwise, the new party is ‘Americans Elect 2.0’.
– The new party is a structured organization with an idea or set of core ideas that aren’t found in other parties starting with ‘no more business as usual’.
– The new party will be an American party that supports the interests of US citizens first, non-national or trans-national interests last.
– Any political party is a club: a groups of like-minded individuals who provide support for the others. The basic platform will include the following fundamental ideas:
– The new party will offer ‘Reality Based Policy’. Worst-case debt, finance and resource conditions will be assumed rather than ‘hoped away’ or maneuvered around. The group will work toward solutions with the understanding that citizens will ‘pay a price’ in the process. We will face our difficulties and succeed as best as we can with our virtues: courage, perseverance, humility and a sense of sacrifice.
– The new political party will require accountability/responsibility from everyone. Period.
– This party will root out corruption and money from politics … our government is not for sale!
– A goal of the new party is the nationalization of the election process. Privatization of democracy has failed.
– This party is a club with rules: Every party member, candidate, office-holder or administrator will earn within a year or possesses a net-worth less than $1 million dollars. No person can contribute more than $100 toward any candidate in any single election. No candidate can accept more than $100 from any single person per election nor can that candidate have received support previously from any group or individual who earned or earns more within a year, or possesses a net worth over $1 million dollars.
Elected officials will earn less than $1 million in cumulative income, they will adjust their income to remain within the confines of the income limit. There will be no political action committees or ‘slush funds’, candidates will repudiate in advance any outside- non-affiliated sources of private funding. Professional politicians would be free to run for office within the party, however most will not qualify as past sponsorship in campaigns will be measured against the income limit. Corporate, NGO or Union donations will not be accepted, nor will persons affiliated with the preceding organizations be accepted as candidates. Only public election funding, available to all other candidates will be accepted.
Those individuals with wealth or income greater than $1 million are welcome to join the Democratic- and Republican parties. These are the millionaire parties: for real estate developers, car dealers, oil executives, rich doctors or lawyers, stock traders, Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes.
This new party will be for the rest of us.
I suggest calling this party the Responsibility Party.
This new party is practical:
– It appeals to both self-described ‘Liberals’ and ‘Conservatives’.
– It is a party by design of the non-wealthy. The wealthy have money, they are the ‘1%ers’ with 1 percent of the population. The new party for the rest of the 99% has the majority of votes by default.
– The party can succeed because the winds of history are at its back. As time passes the self-interested enterprises will collapse under the weight of their own contradictions. The self-interested are structurally incapable of doing anything else because they have evolved to be cannibalistic. The establishment can only succeed by devouring itself.
– As the establishment parties fail, what is exotic and on the fringe becomes main stream. The election process brings new candidacies forward: as the ongoing re-alignment continues the opportunities for the new party will increase.
– Much of the grassroots organizing infrastructure for a new party already exists. It has ‘nowhere to go’ because the current establishment cannot bear to abandon its core constituency of millionaires and billionaires.
– Contrary to popularly promoted opinion from politicians, Americans are desperate for leadership, direction and discipline. They have been fed the ‘steady diet of nothing’ and false-promises for decades and want/need more. What they are looking for is the truth, they want it straight up, they want to be challenged and they want to succeed: to be great, in other words. Americans are sick and tired of being asked to sacrifice, to make their world a better place by spending money they don’t have in a store.
Let me know what you think.