Field Of Dreams: Americans Elect

Americans Elect got Tom Friedman to endorse their effort to get a third party presidential ballot in November. He wrote about it and convinced me too that it was a good idea. A month or two ago I started having misgivings and now, it seems like things are really turning sour for Americans Elect.

An article in Techpresident.Com paints a pretty bleak picture:

"Americans Elect is the best example of the Field of Dreams Fallacy I have ever observed. The organization spent a reported $9 million building a cutting edge platform, assuming that high-priced technology and a mainstream media blitz would result in a centrist groundswell that revolutionizes American politics. It built no participatory community, and assumed that the Internet would magically serve one up for them. The result has been an all- too-predictable failure." (from

Maybe we didn't understand the dynamics of the web well enough:

"Maybe, just maybe, this was prove a high-enough profile blunder that we'll learn something from it about the limits of online politics from it.

The lowered transaction costs of the web help to reveal the true demand curve for citizen politics. That can prove transformative -- particularly around issues where there's pent-up demand, but traditionally high barriers to participation." (from

But that didn't happen:

"That's not the case with voting, however. The barriers to voting aren't very high. People don't follow politics because they don't like politics. For issues where no one was particularly motivated, and barriers were already pretty low, the new media environment doesn't change outcomes.

There is no radical center in American politics. Build the nicest platform money can buy for a disinterested population and you're still going to be left hearing the chirp of online crickets." (from