Two months and nine days left are left until the last day of the year, December 31 2007. That’s the date by which 88,991 Californians will have to register as members of a Unity08 Party in order for Unity08 to grab a spot for its presumptive presidential ticket on the November 2008 ballot. The other ballot access strategy for California would be for Unity08 to skip party registration and instead obtain 889,906 petition signatures directly, clearly a goal that Unity08 will find hard to achieve. Indeed, Unity08 seems to have agreed that the lower number is more achievable, and has registered itself as a “Political Body Attempting to Qualify” for party status in California.
So how are things going for Unity08 in gaining access to the ballot in California? Well, the California Secretary of State has just released reports of voter registrations in California as of September 4, 2007. The reports show that one person in Sacramento County has registered as a member of the Unity08 Party. Also, one person in Santa Barbara County has registered as a member of the Unity08 party. One plus one equals two. Two people in the entire state of California have registered to vote as members of the Unity08 Party. Unity08 has reached 0.0022% of its ballot access goal. That’s twenty-two millionths of its goal, a goal that must be reached within just two months and nine days.
Two registrants. Two. Two registrants in a state that made Arnold Schwarzenegger Governor. Two registrants in a state with 38 million inhabitants.
To put this stunning lack of success in further perspective, let’s consider that according to the same report, even the Superhappy Evolution Neuroscience Party managed to get one individual registered as a member in the state of California. And did the Superhappy Evolution Neuroscience Party go on the Colbert Report twice? I don’t think so. Other political parties that outpaced Unity08 in California registrations include the Equal Justice Party, the God Truth and Love Party, the New World Party, the No More Black Holocaust and Reparations for Origians Now Party, the Socialist Action Party, the United Conscious American-Africans for Peace Success and Fairness Party, and the United Conscious Builders of All Americans Equal Dream Party. The Reform Party has garnered 28,735 registrations as of September 4, indicating that for an actual grassroots organization with a real base of support, ballot access in California is possible.
Don’t let Unity08 try to spin its miserable performance into a critique of the system. The Draft Gore and Ron Paul phenomena of this year show that organizations that start out as economically bereft shoestring efforts can quickly grow in numbers of adherents and in dollars of contributions if they are appealing at the grassroots level. Unity08’s failure both in terms of dollars and in terms of numbers is an indication that the plan the public relations operation has drawn up is not appealing to the grassroots of America. Unity08 can hire someone to make spiffy web graphics. Unity08 can engineer multiple appearances on dozens of cable and broadcast channels. But it is comforting to know that Unity08 cannot buy political success. Unity08’s dismal ballot access failure in California shows us that we’re not all suckers, and that even in this era of stage-managed PR campaigns there is still a place for genuine grassroots activism.