The group formerly known as Unity08 and briefly renamed the Unity12 Task Force has resurfaced as Americans Elect. Until this week, Americans Elect had remained a private Section 527 organization, registered with the IRS and issuing a variety of mission statements. Late this week, however, Americans Elect made its first public declaration of goals:
Americans Elect 2012
In order for Americans to enjoy the governance they deserve, Americans Elect will organize an Internet-based convention that nominates a presidential ticket for 2012. Every registered voter in America will be eligible to be a delegate. Americans Elect will collect and measure public and delegate views on core national issues and nominate a balanced presidential ticket that will bridge the vital center of American public opinion. The Americans Elect nominees will run on the ballot in all 50 states and will be a competitive alternative to candidates put forth by the Democratic and Republican parties.
This public declaration seems to implicitly confirm a shift away from the emphasis of Unity08 (and very recently Unity12) upon a cross-party ticket with a member of one major party to be President and a member of the other major party to be Vice President. Replacing the old idea is one process that Unity08 emphasized before (an internet-based convention), another process that Unity08 never discussed (the “collection” and “measurement” of public and delegate issue positions), and a new, more amorphous result: a “balanced presidential ticket that will bridge the vital center of American public opinion.”
Beyond technical questions about how a secure internet nomination process could be successfully engineered, this self-introduction by Americans Elect leads me to a number of definitional questions about the basic concept:
1. What is balance? What is meant by a “balanced presidential ticket”? What form of “balance” will Americans Elect offer in its identification of a presidential candidate and a vice presidential candidate?
2. What is the center? Which set of opinion surveys — public or delegate or both — will be used to measure the location of “the vital center,” and what measure (the most common view? an average of all views? the view with the least ideological between all views on a subject?) will be used to determine what a “center” is?
3. Who is “Americans Elect”? When Americans Elect writes that “Americans Elect will… nominate a balanced presidential ticket,” who is meant by “Americans Elect” — the leadership of the Americans Elect organization, or the delegates to the “Americans Elect” convention?
4. Who chooses? What is meant by “nominate”? Will delegates have the power to nominate various possible Americans Elect presidential tickets from which the final ticket will emerge? Will delegates have the power to choose between several alternatives presented to them by the Americans Elect organizational leadership? Or will delegates have the power to simply approve of an Americans Elect organization-selected ticket?
5. What if the processes conflict? What happens if and when delegates’ nominative choice (if any) conflicts with the public and delegate opinion polling to identify “the vital center”? Which determination takes supremacy?
Does Americans Elect’s own description of itself lead you to pose other questions about exactly what the basic concept is? What might they be?
This is not a rhetorical question. Please share any questions you may have about the concept of Americans Elect in the comments section here. If together we can come up with a good set in the near future, I intend to pose such questions directly to Americans Elect leadership. Together let’s take the first step: identifying what we all need to know in order to figure out just what Americans Elect means.