Americans Elect, a 501c4 corporation that has refused to share the sources of its funding, is working to arrange the election of its very own presidential and vice presidential candidates in 2012. Americans Elect President and Chairman Peter Ackerman walked away from his 1980s role as assistant to junk bond king Michael Milken with half a billion dollars and has increased his wealth through a series of corporate leveraged buyouts since. Americans Elect will have funding available to accomplish its organizational tasks. All it needs to gain the presidency is a vote. Americans who care about the integrity of our political system ought to be paying close attention to Americans Elect’s activities.
As they prepare a media launch designed to capture Americans’ attention on the news-bereft summer stage, Americans Elect corporate executives and staffers are issuing a series of public statements to reassure Americans that they, not Americans Elect, will choose what sort of candidates they want to be placed on the Americans Elect ballot line.
We’ve designed the technology as a platform of questions that promote thought and discussion—not steer it…. From the beginning, you can expect to ask questions, answer questions, and decide what matters most.
Americans Elect’s “About” Page:
No traditional parties.
No special interests.
No agendas. Really!
… As a Delegate, you will help shape the rules, craft the platform of key questions the candidates must answer, and ultimately choose the nominees.
Americans Elect, “#6 of Six Things to Know“:
Americans Elect is a platform. We have no candidate, issues, or ideology of our own. We are simply a vehicle for a presidential ticket that is more representative of, and more accountable to you, your friends, your family, and your neighbors. You are the drivers.
You are the drivers. Americans Elect won’t be steering. No agendas. No candidate, issues, or ideology of its own.
Dig a bit past promotional material and you’ll find something else:
- Video by Americans Elect promoting the “sensible center” and focusing on fiscal issues from a centrist point of view.
- Blog posts focused on budgetary and fiscal issues from a centrist point of view.
- Selective Americans Elect interviews with citizens who disparage conservatism and liberalism and call for a resurgence of centrist politics.
Position or no position? Agenda or no agenda? Ideology or no ideology? Which version of Americans Elect’s public message accurately reflects the corporation’s nature and intentions?
A document recently submitted to the Nevada Secretary of State provides an indication. As part of the process of registering as a political party and gaining presidential ballot access in the state, Americans Elect is required to submit a copy of its corporate bylaws. Americans Elect’s initial bylaws were received by the Nevada Secretary of State on September 13 2010 and can be read here. On May 11 2011, the Nevada Secretary of State received a new, amended version of Americans Elect bylaws, which you can read here.
There has been more than one change in Americans Elect’s bylaws between September 2010 and May 2011, but one is especially germane to the claim that Americans Elect has no position, agenda or ideology.
Article I of Bylaws, September 13 2010:
Article I: Name
Section 1.01. Name. The corporate name of this organization (hereinafter referred to as the “Corporation”) is Americans Elect.
Article I of Bylaws, May 11 2011:
Article I: Name and Purpose
Section 1.01. Name and Purpose. The corporate name of this organization is Americans Elect. The purpose of Americans Elect is to create a process for the American people by Convention directly to nominate qualified persons for President and Vice President of the United States of America for election by the American people in November 2012. The ticket shall be balanced around centrist principles…
“The ticket shall be balanced around centrist principles.” It’s right there in Americans Elect corporate bylaws. That’s a position. It’s an ideology. It’s an agenda.
Then there’s the front page of the Americans Elect web page. In March of 2011, I was fortunate enough to take a screen capture of the Americans Elect front page. It looked like this:
After a prominent quote from David Brooks reading “[The] centrist movement is completely unrepresented by the two parties…,” Americans Elect declares of itself that “this ticket will bridge the vital center of public opinion.” David Brooks’ promotion of a “strong centrist political establishment” is featured elsewhere on the Americans Elect web page. This all sounds like an agenda. It sounds like an affirmation of a centrist agenda.
As Americans Elect uses words like “democracy,” “choice” and “freedom” in its public rollout this summer, don’t let those words just roll over you. Look for procedural details on how the nomination is to be arranged. Look to see whether the process is steered in order to obtain a result in line with Americans Elect’s centrist ideology and agenda.