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Americans (won’t) elect!

By David de la Fuente, Contributing Writer

You’ve seen them on the Colbert Report, you’ve heard them on NPR, you’ve read about them in the New York Times. Americans Electis branding itself as a new way to nominate and eventually elect a nonpartisan ticket for president and vice president of the United States.

Photo by KCZooFan from Flickr

However, no president has ever been elected without his political party being represented in the U.S. Congress after the preceding midterms. While this may seem like a casual fun fact that one would find useful on “Jeopardy!” it actually speaks to a greater truth that one needs a massive coalition to win the Electoral College. It takes ingrained infrastructure, money, history, and foot soldiers to guarantee them the White House every eight years or so.

At the end of the day, Americans Elect will most likely fail due to the fact that it’ll be one Presidential Ticket running against a Democratic and Republican Presidential Tickets that have automatic ballot access in every state, almost assured debate appearances between just themselves, and campaign matching funds from the 2008 elections, not to mention a full slate of candidates running on their labels up and down the ballot. This gives the major party presidential candidates the advantage of having down ballot candidates working just as hard as them to elect the entire ticket.

While supporters point to how Americans Elect has seen success in obtaining ballot access in about a dozen states, this does not equal success in November 2012. For instance the Libertarian Party, which probably has the best infrastructure of any third party, is fairly consistent in obtaining ballot access in nearly every state, but has yet to even come close to obtaining the 5% national popular vote to secure campaign matching funds. Ballot access is great and all, but at the end of the day it doesn’t get a candidate votes.

Another damning tidbit about Americans Elect is that this isn’t these cowboys’ first rodeo. A lot of the people working on Americans Elect were part of an organization four years ago called Unity08 designed to find a consensus candidate to run in 2008 against unsettled Democratic and Republican fields.

The group looked to Independent New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, and former Democratic Senator Sam Nunn to run on their ticket only to be denied every time. With no candidate, and no real political platform other than “we aren’t the two major parties”, the group folded and didn’t see a single vote.

Which brings me to the last and most important reason as to why Americans Elect will fail: the organization tracks who its members are most interested in nominating in 2012, and the results speak to how, despite America’s disdain of Washington’s current antics, they are satisfied enough with the two Major Parties and their current crop of candidates.

The top five in order are Ron Paul, Barack Obama, Jon Huntsman, Buddy Roemer, and Gary Johnson. All are of course running in the Republican primary to challenge President Obama, except obviously Obama himself. It is unlikely that if they fail to secure the Republican nomination any of them would actually accept the Americans Elect banner  rather than run under a more established Third Party with a defined base and ideology (a prospect Johnson and Roemerhave both recently flirted with).

Americans don’t need Americans Elect. You don’t need to fool yourself that you can choose the President on some silly web site like how America chooses winners on American Idol. It may be fun to pretend, but that isn’t how our democracy works. If Americans really want to elect a President that we can believe in, they need to only need to do two things. Register to vote, and show up in the voting booths on November 6, 2012.

David de la Fuente is a contributing writer for GenWhyPress. He is also a senior at Southern Methodist University. For any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to contact David at ddelafuent@mail.smu.edu.

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