In the 2008 presidential election cycle, the corporation called Unity08 used its media contacts with DC insiders such as David Broder and shared financial history with publications such as The Hill and Atlantic Monthly to spread word that it would run the first-ever secure online presidential nomination, the end of which would be for the corporation to run its very own candidates for President and Vice President of the United States.
A read through the long history of Unity08 reveals that as it began operations (with its first headquarters inside a Republican public relations firm), it identified the following four reasons for embracing its corporate presidential campaign:
1. Lobbyists were in control of national politics;
2. Big money donations drove presidential elections;
3. Low turnout in party primaries and general elections meant that small numbers of Americans actually chose the president; and
4. A president willing to adopt policies with origins outside his party was needed in the White House.
But through a series of odd pirhouettes, it turned out that Unity08:
1. Was peppered with lobbyists in its leadership (prompting Unity08’s explanation that “you have to have been in it to know what’s wrong with it.”);
2. Was filing lawsuits to obtain the right to break its early small-money pledge and start taking big money campaign contributions of unlimited size;
3. Was faced with an election season in which primary and general election turnout was remarkably high;
4. Faded after failing to attract enough contributors and sending money on to a Draft Bloomberg campaign for which it had obtained a website; and
5. Saw the election of a Democratic President in 2008 who has since adopted Republican positions on domestic surveillance, international wars, faith-based initiatives, executive privilege, freedom of information, the endangered species act and offshore oil drilling, to name just a few policies.
Nevertheless, despite bringing in an income of $0 in 2009 Unity08 somehow managed to maintain an office half a block from the White House and retain a stable of lawyers to argue the case in federal courts that it should be permitted to take big money donations of unlimited size.
On March 2, 2010, Unity08 won its case in federal court. See here for the full text of this decision.
In that decision, it is revealed that the political consultants and lobbyists behind Unity08 had plans to resurrect their organization for the next presidential election (to be renamed “Unity12”) as soon as that corporation won the ability to take big money contributions of unlimited size.
Is Unity08 getting ready to relaunch? It looks like it. The old unity08.com website had reverted to an advertisement for the Republican Peak Creative Media firm that originally launched it. But now unity08.com has erased the Republican P.R. ad and once again features a statement from the Board of Directors of Unity08 [Update: an hour later, the Peak Creative Media advertisement is back. Someone is actively tinkering with that website]. An anonymized person or group has registered the website unity12.com.
But if Unity08 wants to reintroduce itself, it’s going to have company: pre-existing groups named “Unity12” or “Unity2012” include an association of journalists of color, a New Age group of “lightworkers,” a Canadian branch of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, a myspace page, an assisted-living foundation and a website that asks you to send on the big money donations and corporate sponsorships its way instead. With all of these uses, I don’t see how Unity08 can claim a trademark for 2012.
If Unity08 wants to pull anything off for the 2012 election season, it’s going to have to start soon. Watch and wait for what comes next.