I think I can speak for most Millennials when I say that I’m sick of the dialogue in this country. The election is almost a year away and I already wish it was over. The rhetoric is more about who’s to blame about the problems in our country instead of how to solve them.
Until recently, I had all but resigned myself to the fact that whoever I vote for in the general election, I would be voting for the lesser of two evils. However, a new website, americanselect.org, has given me a glimmer of hope that maybe; just maybe, there can be a viable alternative for once. “Americans Elect is a nonpartisan nonprofit whose only mission is to let the American people directly nominate their choice for president,” says the group’s website.
Basically, it lets participants—any American citizens registered to vote—bypass the primary systems to nominate a candidate based on their credentials and stances on the issues, not by their party affiliation. Also, whoever the nominee is will be required to choose a running mate from a different party to help ensure that the ticket is not tied to partisan politics.
Since I’m not a huge fan of President Obama or any of the leading GOP candidates I decided to sign up for Americans Elect, try it out, and write about the process for TNGG.
According to an article on boston.com, a similar effort was attempted for the 2008 elections, but it failed due to lack of funding. This time around, however, the “bipartisan group of activists and political professionals” has raised ten times more money than in 2008—over $20 million.
Americans Elect has over two million signatures; more than half needed to get the ticket on every state ballot. The beginning stages of the process have already begun.
If you sign up, you’ll be asked an extensive list of questions from nine different categories—economy, foreign policy, reform, education, energy, social issues, environment, immigration, and healthcare—and you’ll also be asked to rank those categories according to your priorities.
The website has compiled a list of hundreds of public officials and has listed the top choices based on the results of the survey. Interestingly, all of the top national matches seem to be moderate Republicans. It also lists candidates based on how many people have “tracked” them.
The top officials tracked are Ron Paul, Barack Obama, former Utah Governor Jon Hunstman, former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson in that order. Obviously Obama will be the Democratic nominee and not involved with Americans Elect, but the other candidates are interesting.
They are all Republicans who, with the exception of Paul, have gained little-to-no traction with the GOP, which is increasingly being taken over by the Tea Party and the religious right. For instance, Paul is liberal on abortion and gay rights, Johnson wants to legalize marijuana, Huntsman believes the earth is more than 4,000-years-old, and Roemer used to be a Democrat.
Another component of Americans Elect is shaping the debate. The site lets you come up with questions and then others can either approve or disapprove of them. The most popular ones will be used for a debate.
All of this will culminate in an online convention in June, when the Americans Elect candidate will be nominated to face off against the other candidates in the general election.
Like any new concept, especially one derived from the Internet, there will be a lot of questions concerning the legitimacy of the process, but the website does a good job of answering some of those questions.
One important thing to note is that Americans Elect is not a third party, but a “second way to nominate a president… Our process is open to any qualified candidate and any registered voter—no matter their party. We have no ties to any political group—left, right, or center. We don’t promote any issues, ideology or candidates. None of our funding comes from special interests or lobbyists. Our only goal is to put a directly-nominated ticket on the ballot in 2012,” the website says.
I’m not saying that Americans Elect will necessarily nominate our next president, but I do know we need change in our electoral system. As things stand now, everything in this country is ruled by the two parties, which are themselves ruled by corporations.
It would be refreshing to have a president that could be truly independent because they’re not beholden to the ideologies and politics of one particular party. It will also be cool to be involved in a primary process where each vote counts equally, not depending on how important your state is in the primaries.
At the very least, Americans Elect can start a conversation about the desires of the majority who aren’t driven by far left or far right ideology. At the most, it could change the way we do elections in this country.
What do you think about Americans Elect? Will you be signing up?