“Americans Elect” Presidential Alternative

Fearing that Republicans will fail to deliver such a candidate, a small section of the capitalist class, many supposedly linked with the Republican Party, have launched an independent route to picking a presidential candidate called Americans Elect. Americans Elect’s website will allow “the public” to participate in an online “convention” in June to pick a presidential candidate to run in the 2012 race. Writing in the British Guardian on December 9, Paul Harris reports that the group has already raised $50 million and is well on the way to getting their organization on the ballot in all 50 states. By that time, he says, “more than 300,000 people had registered online to become Americans Elect delegates and so get a vote in the group’s June convention.”

He writes: “The original funding for the project has come from 50 or so wealthy individuals, including Ackerman’s father, Peter Ackerman, the head of wealth management firm Rockport Capital. Other known backers, such as Kirk Rostron and Melvin Andrews, are often also from the world of finance, especially hedge funds. Another backer is Jim Holbrook, president of a trade association that lobbies for the marketing industry. Many other backers remain a secret due to the group having registered itself as a non-profit and thus having no obligation to reveal donors.” (www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/09/americans-elect-group-gaining-steam)

While the group will attempt to present itself as above “politics as usual,” it is clearly corporate-backed and linked to mainstream, corporate politicians. Under its rules, if the presidential candidate is picked from one major party, the vice presidential candidate must be picked from the other party. Also, Paul Harris states: “There is … a proviso that if the emerging candidate is not seen as balanced enough then a committee within Americans Elect can veto it, subject only to overturn by two thirds of delegates.” This clearly limits the kind of democracy that will be allowed in this process.

The corporate funders behind Americans Elect are trying to play on general dissatisfaction with both parties; they will attempt to present a clean warrior to ride in and clean up the political mess in Washington. This is not unlike the role Ross Perot tried to play as an independent in 1992, when at one point he had over 30% support in the polls. Perot’s entry into the race forced both major parties to address more fully the mounting budget deficit. We can’t rule out Americans Elect having a similar kind of effect and a possible Americans Elect candidate getting quite high numbers of supporters, especially from independents.