Americans Elect Fails
to Nominate a Candidate

Oh—you probably didn't notice
May 15, 2012

Late last night, Americans Elect announced that they'd failed to nominate a Presidential candidate. Americans Elect is the new political entity with the stated intention "to nominate [online] a presidential ticket that answers directly to voters—not the political system." They've also spoken to the purpose of ending or limiting 2-party dominance of American politics.

Apparently, none of the candidates in the Americans Elect nomination process had met a predetermined "threshold" of acceptance—essentially at least 1,000 supporters in each of at least ten states. The organization's CEO, Kahlil Byrd released a statement saying in part that AE participants desire to see a credible candidate emerge from their process, that leaders will confer with the AE community before determining future steps, and that AE will announce results of those conversations on Thursday, May 17. Read Byrd's full statement here. This is the second time they have done a similar reset. No matter what they do now, it is clear at this point that their efforts as defined, haven't succeeded.

I see two related reasons for the failure. The more fundamental reason is that even if they had succeeded tactically, their plan could not have elected a Presidential ticket or achieved its broader purpose. The operational reason for failure is that they simply failed to gain significant following.

I have two metrics for the second statement. One is that the news of their failure received relatively little media coverage. The second is that the top six vote-getters in the final caucus push yesterday received fewer than 28,000 combined votes—less than two-hundredths of one percent of registered American voters (0.015%). That's dismal.

AE was well-financed, had some big-name support and mounted a serious publicity campaign; they just never got traction.

Which brings us to the more fundamental reason for their failure. They could not have succeeded politically and strategically, even if they'd scored tactically. An independent or third-party Presidential candidacy can accomplish virtually nothing.

If they had actually elected a President, she or he would have been unable to lead the country, due to a lack of power or support in the bi-polar, partisan Congress. Backing up from there are several reasons why their ticket would have been unlikely to win: limited media coverage, difficulty getting into debates, and unmerciful assault by the parties and the 527s. Also, voters would not have trusted their notion of running-mates from different parties, fearing antagonism between the two, and fundamental change in the event of the President's death. (That's why we got the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution, in 1804.)

To be fair, it's unlikely that many in the AE effort realistically expected to elect a President. Part of their purpose was to offer an alternative to two-party politics. In that regard, though, they would have accomplished nothing new. Already, nearly 45% of Americans claim not to be Republican or Democrat; most of those are independents; only about half a percent are minor-party members. There have been more independents than Republicans or Democrats for at least twenty-five years.

Today, we are mostly an independent nation. We aren't electing independents because we're not putting them on our ballots. We're not putting them on ballots because we don't know how. The path forward from that reality is easier, and far more likely to succeed than is another third-party or independent Presidential candidacy.

  • We begin electing independents (and/or minor-party candidates) to Congress.
  • We elect enough to deny House and Senate majorities to the big parties.
  • Then we get to change House and Senate rules to make good governance possible.
  • We learn and teach each other how to do all this through an online, wiki-based think-tank.

You can learn more about building this practical, achievable Leave the Party course of change here.

The Americans Elect effort couldn't have taken us where we need to go. It wasn't guaranteed to put an independent on the Presidential ballot, couldn't have elected anyone, and would have done nothing respecting the Congress. That's where we have to work.

  The Muser

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