The taint of special interests

Suck on this, voters:

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.

“Our goal is to open up what has been an anticompetitive process to people in the middle who are unsatisfied with the choices of the two parties,” said Kahlil Byrd, the C.E.O. of Americans Elect, speaking from its swank offices, financed with some serious hedge-fund money

What more can I say (top billing)?

76 replies
  1. 1
    Joseph Nobles says:

    #BeforeBlackPresidents

  2. 2
    hildebrand says:

    Is he still pining for Bloomberg to come and save the day? Is that what this is all about?

  3. 3
    AxelFoley says:

    What more can I say (top billing)?

    Oh, shit, DougJ broke out the Audio Two quote.

    Well done, brah.

  4. 4
    cathyx says:

    Now all they need is a strong candidate whom everyone knows and loves. Bernie Sanders?

  5. 5

    Write it down: Americans Elect. What Amazon.com did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music, what drugstore.com did to pharmacies, Americans Elect plans to do to the two-party duopoly that has dominated American political life — remove the barriers to real competition, flatten the incumbents and let the people in. Watch out.

    Write it down!

    Watch out!

    Bookmark it, libs!

    bwahahahaha

  6. 6
    cleek says:

    lotsa money to be made in politics. can’t let just two parties keep it all!

  7. 7
    hildebrand says:

    Plus they would have to completely co-opt Obama’s message about wanting to move beyond partisanship.

    Also, too, they will need to take a quick look at how well said radical centrist might actually govern. Because, ya know, Obama’s centrism has really moved him along quite nicely with this congress.

    Honestly. I wish I could get paid handsomely to write patently absurd nonsense.

  8. 8

    Shorter Americas Elect: Those crazy Republicans we helped elect are CRAZY!

  9. 9
    Alwhite says:

    This seems like a good idea but it certainly has its own risks. For sure the continued control of our political process by billionaires is the biggest. But given the enforced ignorance of the majority of voters combined with our love of novelty and entertainment the need is for a ‘sanity check’.

    In the current American environment we really do need someone with a history, someone that has shown they can actually govern in a way people voting for them expect. There is a reason European Prime Ministers are call the head of their party, they are. While that means they tend to be the functionaries that succeed in the party politics it also means no surprises when they get elected.

    We are very likely to vote ourselves a circus freak.

  10. 10
    General Stuck says:

    the C.E.O. of Americans Elect, speaking from its swank offices, financed with some serious hedge-fund money.

    uugh! I’m sure they have the welfare of the general public in the center atop their agenda. The center of Park Avenue.

    Somehow, I don’t think Bernie Sanders is the first name that pops up for these people.

  11. 11

    Also, too – for people who complain so much about the duopoly of the process beholden to their special interests, there’s not a damned name anywhere on that web site of who’s involved, who’s contributed, what connections they have, etc.

    Pretty pathetic, really.

  12. 12
    Ol' Dirty DougJ says:

    Whenever anyone says “write it down”, all I can think of is “Write this down. M-A-R-S”.

  13. 13
    MikeJ says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Write it down! Watch out! Bookmark it, libs!

    Fax your credenza!

  14. 14
    Jewish Steel says:

    Is Pigasus still alive? Get Wavy Gravy on the horn.

  15. 15
    SST says:

    @ # 5

    I liked how he goes all righteous and confident in that passage before backing off w/ saying they plan to make that sort of change. After a column (and half of that sentence) of fluffing, he lets on that yeah maybe nothing’s going to come of this.

  16. 16
    Ron says:

    I honestly wonder if Friedman even notices or appreciates of the irony in his article.

  17. 17
    Tom Hilton says:

    For the love of god, think of the children hedge fund managers!

  18. 18
    ppcli says:

    Didn’t they already try this with “No Labels”? Basically an attempt to sell right wing talking points and point-framings while pretending to be “non-partisan”?

  19. 19
    Dennis SGMM says:

    No way to tell how long this outfit will last or whether it will ever have a significant impact. OTOH, having only two political parties in a nation as large and as diverse as America seems like trying to play Chopin on a piano with only two keys.

  20. 20
    beltane says:

    David Broder approves of this message. Also, Tom Friedman.

    At least they’ve progressed from “No Labels” to boring labels.

  21. 21

    @Comrade Javamanphil: #8

    Shorter Americas Elect: Those crazy Republicans we helped elect are CRAZY!

    Exactly.

    Regardless of the sins of the hedge fund folks, they do try to think things through and they do try to imagine possible problems with business-as-usual. This may just be an early example of big money moving away from the Republicans.

  22. 22
    A Mom Anon says:

    But isn’t it true that the more parties you have,the bigger risk that a teeny portion of the population ends up with a majority? If you had 6 parties,less than 20 percent of the voters could elect a majority in the government. I’m not sure that’s the answer. Even a third party doesn’t do much but funnel off money andf votes from the other two. I don’t know what the answer is,but I’m not sure if more political parties is a solution or would make things worse.

  23. 23
    MikeJ says:

    @Dennis SGMM: We don’t have two keys. We have one key one the piano and a kazoo hooked up to a leaf blower.

    Unless you meant the split between blue dogs and other dems. That could count as two keys.

  24. 24
    jrg says:

    They will just wind up with a clone of the Democratic party. The only difference will be that dumb ass centrists won’t have to be sold on the idea that the goal of the party is to turn the DOD into the department of flower arranging and to give away 100% of white people’s money.

    Whoever said the other day that “Most Americans want what the Democrats want, but they want the GOP to do it” was 100% right. People don’t look at policies. They’ve been convinced that Dems want to spend all their hard-earned money on tulips, weed, and dancing lessons for inner-city youth. It does not matter one bit what’s actually being proposed. It’s fucking pathetic.

  25. 25
    Xantar says:

    It can’t be a coincidence that this crew’s name is just one typo away from American Select.

  26. 26
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    “beholden to their special interests”?

    WTF is that supposed to mean? Neither the Dems or the GOP are Ferengi enough for the hedge fund crowd?

  27. 27
    JPL says:

    Will the hedge fund managers run a campaign calling for fifteen percent tax rates for all?
    BTW..The Guardian has an article with the Business Secretary calling our repubs “nutters”.. link

    But he added: “The irony of the situation at the moment, with markets opening tomorrow morning, is that the biggest threat to the world financial system comes from a few right-wing nutters in the American congress rather than the eurozone.”

    What will the Washington Post say..tsk, tsk

  28. 28
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @MikeJ:
    Nicely put!

  29. 29

    @villago, what they mean is that neither party is beholden to *them*.

    Also, there’s a whole lot of magical bully pulpit thinking in the idea that if we could just elect on indy pres., he/she’d be able to pass thjngs through a congress devised solely of those aforementioned two parties.

  30. 30
    Alex S. says:

    This piece gets dumber with each line.

  31. 31
    Ash Can says:

    Sounds like someone’s trying to muscle in on the Tea Party’s shake-the-rubes-down action. Dick Armey, Roger Ailes et al. will not be pleased.

    (And FYWP, especially if this comment shows up twice.)

  32. 32
    General Stuck says:

    Bill Daley goes on MTP and declares Obama will veto any debt ceiling bill that does not reach past the election. Reid says the same for it not passing such a bill out of the Senate.

    Boner talks out of 6 sides of his mouth, with the ultimate underlying message that his House wingnuts are some crazy motherfuckers.

  33. 33
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Economy must be picking up for an IPO like this to happen.

  34. 34
    cmorenc says:

    There’s only one instance within the last century when a third-party candidate had a serious, viable chance of winning the Presidency and breaking the iron grip of the entrenched two parties: Ross Perot in 1992. Had he in fact proved out to be the eclectic, pragmatic, effective leader he convinced (for awhile) a potentially winning plurality of the electorate he was, it may indeed have turned out to be an enormously beneficial landmark turning point in American politics. It’s sometimes hard now to convincingly remember that as late as early summer 1992, Perot comfortably led BOTH Bush (the elder) and Clinton in every reliable poll.

    Unfortunately, Ross Perot turned out to be a circus clown, and his support began rapidly eroding once this fact started creeping out (remember Perot’s paranoia about Bush Sr purportedly sabotaging Perot’s daughter’s wedding?). Given the nasty history of the Bush family of dirty political tricks, it’s entirely possible that Bush operatives deliberately did things to try to provoke Perot into publicly displaying some bats in his belfry. However, even if this was so, nonetheless Perot’s reaction was that of a circus clown, not someone stable enough to ably handle this sort of provocation to entrust with the Presidency.

  35. 35
    fasteddie9318 says:

    This totally makes as much sense as it did when some other corporate-financed group tried it in 2008. And I completely see where they’re coming from; the Republicans are little more than a mob of dangerous extremists who present a clear existential threat to the country, but on the other hand the President is a black. So, you know, there’s just no place for a reasonable person to turn.

  36. 36
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: The problem with politics is all those politicians. Just get rid of them, and the problem fixes itself.

    Also, the Mets need to fill their forty-man roster with NCAA Div 1 lacrosse players. They’re all very good athletes, and some of them will pick the whole baseball thing up eventually.

    Because the fix for a sucky baseball team is not to get better baseball players, but good non-baseball players.

    And the manager should be the music director of a Big Five symphony.

  37. 37
    RossInDetroit says:

    So this is an attempt by the money side of the Right to scrape off the taint of the TP anarchists? Get back to business as usual with the government keeping the world safe for corporations. And we’re not supposed to see that? I can smell the fresh astroturf from here.

  38. 38
    Ron says:

    Looking at their website is just weird. Their only policy seems to be to find “someone else”.

  39. 39
    chopper says:

    i’m a laugh after pat buchanan figures out a way to coopt the whole thing.

  40. 40
    Maude says:

    Current AP Headline:
    New Jersey’s Christie cast shadow over Iowa, 2012.

  41. 41
    Citizen_X says:

    what drugstore.com did to pharmacies

    Who? What?

  42. 42

    It is about time we had a party that represents BOTH the hedge fund managers AND the investment bankers.

  43. 43
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Maude: Helluva shadow. And I’m a size 56 XL, so it’s not sizeist when I do it.

  44. 44
    MikeJ says:

    Anybody else creeped out by a political party having a CEO?

  45. 45
    RossInDetroit says:

    cmorenc

    You’re assuming that paranoia would be a bad thing in a president. I kinda wish BHO was a little more paranoid and a bit less credulous. And looking out for the Bushes over his shoulder might have saved Gore some grief as well.

  46. 46
    Rhoda says:

    What happened to No Labels? I thought that was the third party bullshit gravy train for failed politicos hated by their base.

  47. 47
    Alex S. says:

    @Maude:

    Chris Christie’s so fat he casts a shadow over Hawaii.

  48. 48
    Beaner says:

    Draft Evan Bayh. He’s the centrist this country needs! What a bunch of donkey dicks.

  49. 49
    Jewish Steel says:

    @Alex S.:

    This piece gets dumber with each line.

    Which you wouldn’t think possible given his idiotic opening paragraph.

    @Davis X. Machina:

    And the manager should be the music director of a Big Five symphony.

    I knew some brass players who worked with Lukas Foss and they told me the orchestra changed his name to Fuckus Lost behind his back.

    So, he deserves a second look.

  50. 50
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Jewish Steel:

    Brass players hate conductors — but then, they hate everyone. Daugher’s a horn player. Some day they’re going to get all liquored up and curb-stomp some violinists.

    Q. What’s the difference between a bull and a symphony orchestra?

    A. A bull has the horns in front and the asshole in the rear.

  51. 51
    MikeJ says:

    They call themselves a “non profit”, not a PAC, not a party, not a committee. Yet they’re soliciting money, and I couldn’t find any filing s from them (even the initial statement of organization filing) on the FEC’s web site.

    Do hedge fund managers obey election laws with the same scrupulousness as they obey the SEC?

  52. 52
    Dennis SGMM says:

    If Americans Elect is successful there will be a wave of nervous breakdowns among the pundits and the talking heads as they strain to expand their meaningless bullshit to cover another party.

  53. 53
    RalfW says:

    Minnesota got screwed for two cycles because of a “third way” party that sucked just enough votes out of the middle to hand the steering wheel to hockey-dad Timmeh P. And he totally wrecked the Oldsmobile.

    And now he wants the keys to the Lincoln Navigator. But his batshit stepsister will probably have a better shot.

    I had no idea when I moved here in 1996 that leaving TX wouldn’t be as keen a political move as I thought.

  54. 54
    Mark S. says:

    @MikeJ:

    I don’t know. If you “formally submit the 1.6 million signatures it has gathered to get on the presidential ballot in California as part of its unfolding national effort to get on the ballots of all 50 states for 2012,” aren’t you pretty much a party?

  55. 55
    DLew On Roids says:

    As long as it doesn’t become a runaway train slurped by the Broderites, this seems like it could only help Obama. It would peel the business conservatives off the batshit wing of the Republican Party, and even if Obama loses the Ben Nelson types, he can still walk away pretty easily with 40-45% of the popular vote. 1992 election redux. The key becomes whether the House flips and we can go back to relatively normal government.

  56. 56
    Amir_Khalid says:

    “Our goal is to open up what has been an anticompetitive process to people in the middle who are unsatisfied with the choices of the two parties,” said Kahlil Byrd, the C.E.O. of Americans Elect, speaking from its swank offices, financed with some serious hedge-fund money

    Heavens to Betsy. What does Si Misai Persefahaman smoke to get himself that fucking oblivious?

  57. 57
    kay says:

    It would peel the business conservatives off the batshit wing of the Republican Party

    Well, why not just say that, then? Why don’t they just say “we’re rebranding some portion of the GOP, again, for the next cycle” ?

    Ultimately, IMO, if you want a more representative government, you’re going to have bring in people who aren’t participating, rather than slicing and dicing the existing pool of voters.

    Congress isn’t representative of or responsive to the actual country not because the chairs are arranged in a way that isn’t pleasing to Tom Freidman, but because there are empty chairs. Since the people who don’t participate are (hugely) clustered at the bottom quarter of the income range those people aren’t represented, and boy, does it show. Setting it up on the internet almost guarantees that status quo will remain the same, incidentally. The giant pool of lower middle class and poor non-voters won’t find this on the internet, but that doesn’t cross Freidman’s mind, because he could give a shit if it’s actually representative, he’s just concerned that it isn’t, right now, serving his interests.

    If they were actually creating something new, rather than re-arranging chairs, that would be enormously risky to people like Tom Freidman.

  58. 58
    JBerardi says:

    “Write it down: Americans Elect. What Amazon.com did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music, what drugstore.com did to pharmacies, Americans Elect plans to do to the two-party duopoly that has dominated American political life — remove the barriers to real competition, flatten the incumbents and let the people in. Watch out.”

    Write it down. Ok:

    Amazon.com : books :: iPod : music
    Amazon.com : books :: blogosphere : newspapers
    Amazon.com : books :: drugstore.com : pharmacies
    blogosphere : newspapers :: iPod : music
    blogosphere : newspapers :: drugstore.com : pharmacies
    iPod : music :: drugstore.com : pharmacies

    Is even one of these a legitimate analogy?! I guess the Amazon.com / Drugstore.com comes closest, but the way he phrases it, it only makes sense if Drugstore.com sells actual pharmacies. Like everything else he writes, It’s just a jumble of buzzwords, cliches and trendy bullshit that instantly dissolves under even the slightest scrutiny. Well, what else is new?

  59. 59
    M31 says:

    ALL orchestral musicians hate conductors. Brass players tell you in loud boozy tones how sucky conductors are, but for deep snarky cynicism get a cellist going sometime.

    The problem with conducting is not that it’s hard, it’s that it’s easy. So a poser with mannerisms can fool enough people to get pretty high in the system. Playing the fucking violin is hard. Being a reeeeeeeally good musician is hard. Sometimes you get a really good musician who happens to be a conductor. Even if they’re an asshole that person gets respect from players.

  60. 60
    sukabi says:

    christ, what is this a ‘rebranding’ of The Third Way?

    Damn you DougJ, I clicked the link and came face to face with fucking Friedman… when has that asshole been right about anything?

  61. 61
    KCinDC says:

    What the hell? I saw that “speaking from its swank offices, financed with some serious hedge-fund money” and thought “That’s amazing. Friedman is actually opposing this warmed-over Unity08 idiocy? I’d’ve expected him to be first in line to praise it.

    But on following the link I see that Friedman’s position is just what I’d’ve initially expected it to be, and my failing was in supposing the guy was smart enough to understand that the average reader doesn’t view “swank offices, financed with some serious hedge-fund money” as a positive attribute for a political movement. Then again, I sometimes fear I’m the one who’s out of touch on that point.

  62. 62
    boss bitch says:

    The New Progressive Alliance, No Labels, and now this? Careful what you wish for because all we are ending up with is a bunch of organized and unaccountable grifters.

  63. 63
    jwb says:

    Well, with a name like American‘s Elect, you can at least give them points for truth in advertising.

    cmorenc: I’d add Teddy Roosevelt’s independent run to your list, and you can’t entirely dismiss Strom Thurmond’s run in 1948, since he actually managed to win votes in the Electoral College. But none of that speaks against your basic point.

  64. 64
    Alex S. says:

    @KCinDC:

    Who knows? Maybe hedge-fund directors created the economic crisis on purpose to reduce carbon emissions. It’s what Friedman and the Pakistani cab driver would want.

  65. 65
    jwb says:

    M31: Yes, that’s why the orchestra was the key social allegory of high capitalism, even as opera and then films were its most revealing social forms.

  66. 66
    scav says:

    That amount of cognitive dissonance in such a small footprint could A) bring down the fooking universe B) be achieved only by Flat-line Friedman and a select few of his caliber. And only he could do it entirely without self-awareness or conscious thought. Intellectual heatdeath.

  67. 67
    Sko Hayes says:

    I knew that the snark would be strong in this thread, and I wasn’t disappointed, LOL. You guys are gems (in the rough, of course!).
    After reading FriedMan’s column this morning, I replied that we already have enough parties that are beholden to special interests, we don’t need another one! Yikes.
    @RossinDetroit:

    So this is an attempt by the money side of the Right to scrape off the taint of the TP anarchists? Get back to business as usual with the government keeping the world safe for corporations. And we’re not supposed to see that? I can smell the fresh astroturf from here.

    I’m wondering if this is an opening gesture from from former GOP money guys (CEO? Hedge fund money?) to take away the neglected middle of the Republican party.

  68. 68
    burnspbesq says:

    This is a predictable and entirely rational reaction by the hedge-fund and private-equity communities to their loss of control over the Republican party to the radical Right nut cases. Nothing more, nothing less. If one group of politicians won’t stay bought, buy a different group.

  69. 69
    ABL says:

    you said “taint.”

    hehehe.

  70. 70
    Joel says:

    Clap your hands! Your hands are clapped!

    I think you need to work a Kurtis Blow reference in there, DougJ, and not something easy like “If I Ruled the World”.

  71. 71
    Donut says:

    Ron @ 16:

    I honestly wonder if Friedman even notices or appreciates of the irony in his article.

    I think you know the answer to that. Self-awareness is not his strong suit.

  72. 72

    Hmmm. I see three possibilities:

    It’s exactly what Friedman has always wanted, an attempt to suck uninformed centrist voters into a third party, thus taking them away from the Democrats and ensuring continuing Republican victories. This has about 0% chance of working. Centrists don’t want a third party and are only upset with the Republicans right now.

    It’s an attempt to split the GOP so that the mainstream conservatives can get out from under the thumb of the radicals. Doing so would be devastating to the GOP’s electability. The Democrats’ voting numbers would hardly change, but the conservatives’ would be chopped in half.

    It’s just another scam aimed at the people so dumb that they think they’re not Republicans. Glenn Beck demonstrated very well that those people are eager marks.

  73. 73
    jaleh says:

    I had a ten minute conversation with Friedman on the 4th of July(met him on a hike in Aspen), he is full of shit. I just sent an email and wrote if he even realizes how ridiculous his article is. I doubt if I hear from him, but hey! As Donut #71 said “self-awareness is not his strong suit”.

  74. 74
    Ron says:

    @A Mom Anon: They aren’t going to elect a majority. What happens in places where there are multiple parties is various parties work together to form a majority coalition.

  75. 75
    Heliopause says:

    Allow me to reprint my questions from last night’s open thread:

    I got through a few paragraphs before the knuckle-dragging imbecility of it stopped me dead in my tracks, as is always the case with Friedman. Leaving aside what a tiresome idiot he is, someone please explain to me where this movement is going to find a more determined radical centrist than Barack Obama. Anybody? Seriously, what are these morons looking for? Somebody who does the post-partisan schtick just like Obama but is better at, what exactly? I swear to Christ, Republicans are particle physicists compared to the likes of Friedman.
    *****

    So again, no more vagaries about how President-For-Life Bloomberg will sit everybody down in a room and tell them to cut the bullshit. Policy-wise, what do the Friedmanites want their dreamboat to accomplish? They never say, other than allusions to somehow splitting the difference down the middle. And if that’s what they want then why aren’t they in love with Obama?

  76. 76

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