What happened to Americans Elect?

Over the last year I mentioned “Americans Elect” several times: Americans Elect: Another OpinionField Of Dreams: Americans Elect, and Americans Elect – A viable third party?. Without rehashing or rereading my previous posts, basically, AE promised to get their candidate on the ballot in all 50 states by beginning the legal work really early, while driving an online process to select a candidate. This was their promise (from their own site)

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Their web site was very credible and well done. (I looked at it now, and it’s still nice, but they essentially concede that they failed without coming out and saying it.) They had Thomas Friedman talking about them, and I was kind of excited about it. But I became a little nervous about it when I saw a distinct conservative lean in the candidates that they were putting up, and very few names I had ever heard about. I wondered whether this was actually a highly sophisticated operation that wasn’t really what they were trying to appear to be.

Well it’s been a while since I had heard of Americans Elect but I fully expected them to carry through on their mission and promised. But I just looked at the ‘sample ballot” for my town, and Americans Elect actually are nowhere to be found.

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I wonder what happened to them!

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 Techpresident.com)

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 Techpresident.com)

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 Techpresident.com)

Americans Elect: Another Opinion

A month or two ago I read an article by Thomas Friedman introducing Americans Elect, an innovative concept for bringing a third major presidential candidate to the table for this year’s Presidential contest. I liked it so much I wrote about in on my blog.

So it is with great interest that I came across this recent article by Gail Collins totally hating the Americans Elect concept:

“But it’s too dangerous. History suggests that this election could be decided by a small number of votes in a few closely contested states. You do not want it to turn on a bunch of citizens who decide to express their purity of heart by tossing a vote to Fred Website.

Plus, the whole Americans Elect concept is delusional, in a deeply flattering way: We the people are good and pure, and if only we were allowed to just pick the best person, everything else would fall into place. And, of course, the best person cannot be the choice of one of the parties, since the parties are … the problem. (from Time to Elect the Worst Idea)

Wow. I admit that a little while ago I started having misgivings about Americans Elect. The reason was that I could see no candidates there that I knew or liked. And those that were doing well seemed very conservative. It got me wondering whether I had been tricked into donating my $25 to Republican or Tea Party front. I have no evidence of that, but for sure my enthusiasm has dropped quite a bit.

Americans Elect – A viable third party?

It’s unusual to see Thomas Friedman to throw his weight this thoroughly behind an outside organization:

“The goal of Americans Elect is to take a presidential nominating process now monopolized by the Republican and Democratic parties, which are beholden to their special interests, and blow it wide open — guaranteeing that a credible third choice, nominated independently, will not only be on the ballot in every state but be able to take part in every presidential debate and challenge both parties from the middle with the best ideas on how deal with the debt, education and jobs.” (from The New York TImes)

I am not sure this is for real, but it sure sounds interesting. I am signing up.