And the center not only did not hold, it couldn’t seem to get any attention whatsoever. Americans Elect, a lavishly funded “centrist” group that was supposed to provide an alternative to traditional political parties, has been a ridiculous flop. Basically, about seven people were actually excited about the venture — all of them political pundits. Actual voters couldn’t care less.
So why Americans Elect? Because there exists in America a small class of professional centrists, whose stock in trade is denouncing the extremists in both parties and calling for a middle ground. And this class cannot, as a professional matter, admit that there already is a centrist party in America, the Democrats — that the extremism they decry is all coming from one side of the political fence. Because if they admitted that, they’d just be moderate Democrats, with no holier-than-thou pedestal to stand on.
Americans Elect was created to appeal to this class of professional centrists — which meant that it was doomed to go nowhere.
But without a third party, who will sit Jim DeMint and Sherrod Brown down and tell them to cut the bullshit?
Assuming AE is unlikely to just call the whole thing off, I’d suggest they cut to the chase and nominate their most prominent backer, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, as the nominee. Under AE’s elaborate rules, he’d presumably have to disclose a party affiliation and then choose a running-mate from a different party. But he could certainly self-identify as a member of the Friedman Party, and then choose a running-mate from the Party of Richard Cohen or the Party of Robert Samuelson or the Party of David Brooks. It would be a Very Serious Ticket.
I dunno, I can’t see a movement taking off without a true electoral powerhouse like Erskine Bowles.
And while you’d like to think that nobody paid to write about politics for a living could possibly have taken thus seriously, you’d be wrong.