Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
I told you about Arizona's newest political party Americans Elect back in July. It is NOT a legitimate political party. Let's learn more about Arizona's newest political party, Americans Elect:
I think Secretary of State Ken Bennett has to answer some questions. How is it that a 501(c)(4) which cannot engage in politics is a political party? How can a 501(c)(4) which cannot engage in politics place candidates on the ballot? How does a 501(c)(4) which is not required to disclose its contributors comply with Federal Election Commission disclosure rules and state of Arizona disclosure rules for campaign contributions in support of a candidate? And how does this not violate its 501(c)(4) tax status?
Irregular Times has posted a whole series of investigative reports on Americans Elect here. Americans Elect | Irregular Times.
Last week, Jonathan Bernstein posted Third-party goofiness - The Plum Line:
The Post today has an update about the progress of Americans Elect, which depending on your point of view is either the organization dedicated to opening up the political system to break the two-party duopoly on offices, or the shadowy stalking horse for a third-party run that refuses to reveal its donors.
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In other words, success is getting to be included in nationally televised debates, and treated seriously by the press. If you define success as actually winning, there’s very little chance of achieving that. And, no, there’s little evidence that these candidates have much effect on much of anything else, either[.]
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Political scientists actually have fierce debates about exactly what political parties are, but if there’s a consensus on anything it’s probably that the job of selecting candidates to run for office is very close to the core of what political parties do. See for more Seth Masket’s excellent takedowns here and here. Not that there’s anything wrong, other than the likely futility of it, in forming a new party. But the really annoying thing to me at any rate is that the folks who do these things tend to believe that something about the political process is responsible for the failure of public policy to conform to their preferences. The truth is that we have bitter disagreements between the political parties because a lot of people have intense, honest, and perfectly legitimate disagreements over policy. Or, in other words, because that’s what happens in democracies. As James Madison observed long ago, the only way to get rid of squabbling, petty politicians is to eliminate freedom, and that’s a cure much worse than the disease.
Steve Benen posted at the Political Animal - Must we keep going through this charade?:
The restless political middle — emboldened by the recent inability of a special congressional committee to agree on a debt-reduction deal — is staking out a controversial plan to insert itself into the 2012 election.
A bipartisan group of political strategists and donors known as Americans Elect has raised $22 million and is likely to place a third presidential candidate on the ballot in every state next year. The goal is to provide an alternative to President Obama and the GOP nominee and break the tradition of a Democrat-vs.-Republican lineup.
The effort could represent a promising new chapter for political moderates, who see a wide-open middle in the political landscape as congressional gridlock and bitter partisan fights have driven down favorability ratings for both parties.
“Voters are saddened by the inability of people in Washington to deal with the issues that are important to them,” said the group’s chief executive, Kahlil Byrd, a Republican strategist who once worked for Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D).
I don’t doubt that these people are well intentioned. Their hearts are in the right place; they want what’s best for the country; and I’m glad they’re taking an interest in the election.
But gimmicks are not going to solve meaningful challenges facing the country.
Americans Elect wants a split presidential ticket, requiring their nominee to pick a running mate from a different party. It’s not clear why. Parties have different agendas, which is why there are different parties. Why should a president and vice president have different views about government and policy? Because it would apparently make Americans Elect feel better.
How would Americans Elect go about putting together a platform? They don’t know. It’d apparently be “moderate,” which has come to mean “we agree with Democrats but don’t want to say so.”
If they were successful, how would Americans Elect overcome Republican radicalism? Or the filibuster rules? They don’t know this, either.
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An online reality-show campaign may sound very nice in a boardroom, but it’s a waste of time, energy, and resources that could be put to far better use.
I am still waiting for someone to file a legal challenge to Secretary of State Ken Bennett certifying this 501(c)(4) as a political party. Perhaps this is something that the Democratic and Republican Parties can both agree on to work together. Ballot confusion is not permitted under Arizona law, and Ken Bennett is failing in his job as chief elections officer is he permits this.
UPDATE: E.J. Dionne writes today, Divided moderates will be conquered - The Washington Post:
The deficit that should most worry us is a deficit of reasonableness. The problems the United States confronts are large but not insoluble. Yet sensible solutions that are broadly popular can’t be enacted.
Why? Because an ideological bloc that sees every crisis as an opportunity to reduce the size of government holds enough power in Congress to stop us from doing what needs to be done.
Some of my middle-of-the-road columnist friends keep ascribing our difficulties to structural problems in our politics. A few call for a centrist third party. But the problem we face isn’t about structures or the party system. It’s about ideology — specifically a right-wing ideology that has temporarily taken over the Republican Party and needs to be defeated before we can have a reasonable debate between moderate conservatives and moderate progressives about our country’s future.
A centrist third party would divide the opposition to the right wing and ease its triumph. That’s the last thing authentic moderates should want.
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We need moderation all right, but a moderate third party is the one way to guarantee we won’t get it. If moderates really want to move the conversation to the center, they should devote their energies to confronting those who are blocking the way. And at this moment, the obstruction is coming from a radicalized right.