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Bucking "Politics as Usual": Version 1.0

Written by ME!!

Hey, have you heard about Americans Elect 2012?  Two and half million people have, and they're all signed up and ready to change the face of politics.  Okay- well, at least that's their hope. No doubt you'll be hearing LOTS more about it- maybe not in this coming election, but in 2016, chances are good it'll factor in as a major game changer for the electoral process (and haven't we all been waiting for it?).  

Americans Elect 2012 is the first-ever online platform that serves as a process for qualifying a non-partisan ticket to run for president of the United States.
 Their hope is to put ideas before "party-affiliation" (imagine that!) by taking advantage of crowd-sourced wisdom using social media tools. 

Here's what some major news outlets have said about it:

  • The New York Times says, "Make way for the radical center"
  • CNN: "An unprecedented national online primary"
  • Fox News says, "This grassroots movement is really catching fire"

What makes this super-special is that, while endeavoring to "re-imagine the presidential nomination process," Americans Elect 2012 sidesteps the power-brokers and lobbyists and gives delegates access to the nominees via questions, a communication platform to debate the issues with fellow delegates, and tools to measure ones own priorities against that of the candidates (and more).

I know, I know- when I first looked into this, I thought, NEVER will they come up with an online voting process that can't be hacked.  Apparently, there is a built-in verification process beyond the digital realm.  "Tallies can be manually re-counted, independently audited, and reaffirmed," so says Americans Elect 2012.

Some interesting facts:

  • Finalists must choose a running mate from a different party.
  • Some of the candidates are well known writers, CEO's, and politicians currently in office.  
  • Even though this is technically a "third party", candidates are not disqualified from running simultaneously in their own party's primary.
  • Any leader can run, any voter can choose.  Party-affiliation doesn't apply.
  • Two and a half million people have already signed on as delegates, and more candidates from both the Senate and the House are getting involved, even though they risk the ire of their fellow party members who see it as undermining party cohesion (not to mention, their own cash flow).


My take on this is that Americans Elect is merely laying some serious groundwork for what will be a robust challenge in the 2016 elections and that this one is considered a test-run to see what wrinkles need smoothing over.  From the looks of the Board of Directors, I'd venture to guess they've got enough brain power to get it at least half right the first time.  

It's super-easy to sign up as a delegate, but before you can actually take part in the discussions, you have to be "verified" which, considering the v-hood frame of mind, won't go over well with the lot of ya.

Will it work?  Is this a sign of things to come for the democratic process?  Is the "radical center" a good thing?  What are the pitfalls of such a populist movement?  What about those without online access?  Is it really secure?  Can this be the potential game-changer many have predicted, given historic trends around technological advances and political/social revolutions?  Was that last sentence overly-nuanced?  Will the People emerge en masse from their frackin' Facebook farming hazes and engage if the democratic process was a bookmark away?  

I'm way too tired to answer those questions, even if I had the answers.  

Guess we'll just have to wait and see.  This is, after all, still the great experiment, this elusive thing we call "democracy".  But damn if this ain't a great time to be alive and watchin', eh?  :o)

Views: 60

Comment by MOTC on March 21, 2012 at 8:07am

My skepticism mostly involves the security and tamper-proof-ness of the online process, however, the current primary process is strife with corruption as it is (see all the stories involving Ron Paul supporters trying to properly caucus for delegates only to have the rules changed by the party at the last minute).  So, heck, I'm all for test-runs on new systems.  I'm also skeptical that the 2 current parties (who work very well together to squash all competition such as this) won't just either kill this with new bills and online voting laws or incorporate this as their own process just as the Republicans took over the original Tea Party and claimed it as theirs and the Democrats took over the Occupy Movement and claimed it as their own as well.

But, I'm with you... it will be interesting to see how it does in fact play out.

Comment by ThatGirl on March 21, 2012 at 9:45am

I wish the two party system would go the way of the T-Rex and I am certainly curious and excited and apprehensive and willing and frightened and hopeful and skeptical about testing this online system.

Im always SOLID like this in my opinions of ALL things related to politics. Awesome Post, Syd...I like to see more news around here. 


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