A lot of people don’t like either the Republican or the Democratic candidate. Many people believe politics has gotten too extreme and want to vote for a centrist. Quite a few people are sick of so much partisanship, believing that our hard times call for a national unity slate. Lots of people believe our political system, with its caucuses and in-person rubber-stamping conventions, is antiquated and that the internet holds promise for greater participation in our democracy.
So Americans Elect was formed, with substantial backing, and gained ballot access in half the states. Ordinary Americans would choose the candidates in a virtual convention. The Presidential and Vice-presidential candidates would have to be from different parties. (Thus the organization is saying it isn’t a third party, just a coalition of the two existing parties, though its candidate would be a third option.)
But despite the groundswell of support, the good ideas, the noble intentions, and the technological and financial infrastructure, the whole effort is fizzling.According to the rules of the organization, candidates for the Americans Elect nomination will be in contention at the virtual convention if they get at least 10,000 online votes. But no one has garnered more than 6,000. (The one who has that many votes is former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer.) The deadline for voting has passed. The quasi-party has ballot access and a convention scheduled but no candidates.
Board members are planning to get together to decide on what to do. Maybe they will change the rules. But it doesn’t look promising for a new approach to politics.