A nationally known Republican strategist told me recently that Americans Elect is going to be “THE story” of 2012.
Have you even heard of Americans Elect?
If not, you soon will because this new organization and movement is generating much mainstream media buzz with its interactive digital age alternative to our centuries’ old presidential nominating process.
Americans Elect is trying to do for presidential politics what iPod did for music and Amazon did for books, i.e., change our behavior via the internet.
The Americans Elect home page has an array of one-liners explaining the concept at a glance and enticing you to join.
“Americans Elect is a secure, online nominating process that combines our oldest values with our newest technologies.”
“Take part in America’s first direct presidential nomination.”
“You have the power to change politics as usual.”
“Pick a president not a party.”
So is Americans Elect an idea right for the times or is it ahead of its time?
The answer, I believe, depends on who emerges after the “direct presidential nomination” -- a fringe candidate or a real presidential contender.
"We are not a third party," said Elliot Ackerman, the group’s chief operating officer. “We are a second way to nominate our leaders.”
Sure, Americans Elect is not a third party in the traditional sense, but the group will have a presidential ticket on the ballot in 11 states and is on track for all 50.
Therefore, regardless of the unique internet nominating process, to the voter in the booth the Americans Elect ticket will be a “third party” choice.
The organizational mission of Americans Elect is for self-appointed “delegates” to nominate a “non-partisan” presidential ticket with the president and vice-presidential candidates belonging to different parties. (That part sounds like a concept for a new reality show.)
To become a delegate just click on AmericansElect.org and sign up.
Then, starting in June, 2012, through an online convention nominating process a presidential candidate will eventually emerge.
Shortly thereafter, he or she will select a running mate from the opposite party and then together this “non-partisan” Americans Elect ticket will be on the ballot nationwide.
That fact -- combined with all the media attention this historic first “internet” ticket will garner -- could highly impact the outcome of the 2012 presidential election.
(Remember the impact of Pat Buchanan in 2000 and Ross Perot in 1992?)
So who will top the Americans Elect ticket? On their shoulders rests the fate of the movement.
Herein lies the biggest obstacle:
Up until December 2nd there had been no candidate who was willing to throw his proverbial hat in the digital ring. But on that day former Louisiana Governor/ four-term Republican Congressman Buddy Roemer announced he would seek the nomination of Americans Elect.
Buddy Who? – Yes, that is exactly the problem facing Americans Elect.
Buddy Roemer’s press release says Americans Elect “appears eager to welcome diverse and controversial opinions that may upset the status quo.”
Well, given how many voters are disenchanted with the “status quo” Roemer might be on to something.
Now the question is whether other political leaders will depart from the traditional two parties, and offer themselves up for the Americans Elect presidential nomination -- knowing full well they probably would not be welcomed back into their old party.
More important, will voters look favorably upon those who join? Will the media depict them as bold leaders trying to break an old mold? Or will the reaction be more like this Huffington Post headline: Buddy Roemer Throws In His Lot With Americans Elect – Which Is a Huge Mistake.
Obviously the bigger the political names the more impact Americans Elect will have on the 2012 election. The “smaller” the names, the more Americans Elect will be relegated to the fringe, along with the Green Party.
The only thing we know for sure about 2012 is that it will be totally unpredictable. This is due to the vast majority of Americans believing our national political system is completely broken, outdated, on the wrong track and has been hijacked by the extremes on both sides.
Could, for all these reasons, and the fact that Americans Elect will have a 50 state ballot presence -- be the impetus for someone well known to take the plunge and become the game changer Americans Elect needs to become the Amazon of the new political world?
Someone, perhaps, like Congressman Ron Paul?
Paul comes to mind because he has the distinction of being "most tracked" by “delegates” at AmericansElect.org, has a nationally recognized name and an almost “cult like” following.
Now, as a Republican presidential candidate in Iowa, Ron Paul is second to Newt Gingrich and ahead of Mitt Romney in the latest Des Moines Register poll. While in New Hampshire, Paul runs third according to the Real Clear Politics.
Curious about Ron Paul’s number one “most tracked” status at American Elect, I emailed their press secretary, Ileana Wachtel and asked her this question:
From your web site I see that Ron Paul is the most tracked. Does Ron Paul have to drop out of the GOP presidential race in order for him to be the Americans Elect candidate? If so, by when?
She replied: (bold indicates her emphasis)
Ron Paul is being tracked by delegates on the website at AmericansElect.org, but it is important to note that he is not, as of now, a candidate. Candidates will be able to declare themselves or be drafted by delegates. If Ron Paul decided to run for the Americans Elect ticket, he would not have to drop out of the GOP race. He would, however, be required to choose a running mate of a different party to qualify for the AE ticket.
To potentially complicate matters even further it has been reported that Ron Paul will not rule out a third party run.
Like I said, the 2012 election will be unpredictable.
Keep in mind, the most extreme outcome of the 2012 presidential election would be that no one candidate captures 270 electoral votes. At that point, a “lame duck” Republican-controlled Congress would cast their votes and most likely the Republican nominated candidate would be declared the winner.
Even though this scenario is unlikely, we should be aware of what Americans Elect, is trying to do, for it just might be the future. It is, after all, the ultimate in participatory democracy and a high-tech twist on the system created by our Founding Fathers.