The other day I got an email from a friend forwarding New York Times columnist Tom Freidman’s syndicated column in a local newspaper, the Press Democrat, published in Santa Rosa, just north of me in California. The title of the article was “Make way for America's radical center.”
This was the first time I had heard of Americans Elect which is “the first-ever open nominating process.” According to their website, “We're using the Internet to give every single voter—Democrat, Republican or independent—the power to nominate a presidential ticket in 2012. The people will choose the issues. The people will choose the candidates. And in a secure, online convention next June, the people will make history by putting their choice on the ballot in every state.”
Apparently, two out of three Americans say they would like another choice in our elections. According to Timothy Garton Ash in the UK’s The Guardian, “American politics have become so hopeless that I begin to be hopeful…. In a CNN poll, 77% of Americans say elected officials in Washington have behaved like ‘spoiled children’ in the crisis over the debt ceiling; 84% disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job.” In what seemed to be an appropriate follow-on from last month’s blog subject of my Third Thursday conference calls, here’s what I discovered.
Apparently motivated by the shameful game of “chicken” that was played out in Washington in the last days of July and early August, Freidman admits to signing a pledge, as I have done since reading his column. He writes about “a viable, centrist, third presidential ticket” that will be elected by an Internet convention and will emerge next year. He writes, “I know it sounds gimmicky — an Internet convention — but an impressive group of frustrated Democrats, Republicans and Independents, called Americans Elect, is really serious, and they have thought out this process well.” As of this writing, over 1.7 million of us have signed this pledge.
In late July, Americans Elect reported they were “submitting a record 1.6 million signatures to gain access to the Californian ballot in 2012….this is the largest number of signatures ever collected in California for any one initiative. More importantly, the signatures were gathered in all 58 counties, making this a truly state-wide effort.”
As Freidman writes, this initiative may “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…”
This initiative is not quite new governing system we have envisioned in the Third Thursday phone calls, but it does offer some hope that the old system might be salvageable. If so, our political leaders could be liberated from special interests and extreme ideas – radical left or right.