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Old Americans Elect Video Openly Promotes Centrist Ideology, Contradicting Current Neutrality Claim

Americans Elect is a 501c4 corporation that has registered as a political party in multiple states and plans to run its own candidate for President in 2012. Lately, Americans Elect has been saying that they have no ties to left, right or center, and that they do not promote any ideology. Its current “About” page:

Americans Elect declares We have no ties to any political group—left, right, or center. We don't promote any issues, ideology or candidates.

But in June 2011, Americans Elect distributed a video in which it talks about “those of us in the political middle,” declares that it is “NOT the extreme left or right,” and promotes the “sensible center.” See excerpts of this video with commentary (a “fair use” copyright exception) below:

Go see the full video at ae2012.org, an apparent warehousing website for old Americans Elect materials that have been long since taken down off the official Americans Elect web page.

Americans Elect’s old video contradicts its more recent claims of ideological neutrality. Americans Elect needs to address this contradiction with clarity and completion in order to gain the trust of a wary public.

Update, 8/30/11 4:40 pm:
Americans Elect, in another post made today:

Americans Elect doesn’t have an ideology or agenda, either.

They’re still making the no-ideology, no-agenda claim even when this video shows both. Americans Elect isn’t being straight-up about itself.

28 comments to Old Americans Elect Video Openly Promotes Centrist Ideology, Contradicting Current Neutrality Claim

  • Lee Mortimer

    Jim: Your most recent complaints about Americans Elect come across as really trivial. I wish you would focus some of your zeal on the truly draconian obstacles that Democrats and Republicans have erected to perpetuate no-choice elections in this country.

    From perusing some other blog sites, I learned that it would take 48,000 signatures to get on the ballot in Texas and that anyone who voted in any other party’s primary is ineligible to sign a petition. And anyone who has voted in a primary and then participates in another party’s convention would be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor.

    As I learn more of these draconian measures, I am concluding that AE has to do whatever it takes to overcome them. I would like to see as much transparency and accountability as possible as that will ultimately help AE’s chances on election day. But if AE feels it has to accept money from unidentified contributors in order to raise the needed financial resources to fight the two-party duopoly, then so be it.

    The nature and tone of your questioning probably has a lot to do with why AE has been unresponsive to your inquiries.

    • Lee, thanks for writing. If you poke around here, you’ll notice that we’ve written thousands of articles critical of both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

      I will never deny that at times I may come across as pushy. But I would respond that while my questions may be perceived as impolite by people who wouldn’t like to answer them, they are quite relevant as long as you accept the idea of citizens, not corporations, as the center of privilege in American politics.

      You have decided for yourself that Americans Elect saying it has no ideology and making videos proclaiming ideology is “trivial.” That’s your right. Others may decide that this contradiction is not trivial, and that’s their right.

      You aren’t really suggesting that I shouldn’t be sharing this information with people… are you?

  • Lee Mortimer

    Jim: I guess what I think is that this latest complaint about AE smacks of meaningless semantics. Most people think of “ideological” as meaning a party is on one or the other end of the political spectrum. “Centrism” would seem to be non-ideological by definition. So, I fail to see an issue there.

    If you’re asking for my “suggestion,” it would to take a more balanced approach in what you choose to “share with people.” I can’t believe you would not be outraged about the Texas ballot access rules. Now there’s something worthy of sharing that people can sink their teeth into. I did appreciate your article about the DailyKos ban on third-party discussion.

    • Well, I don’t know anything about the Texas ballot access rules. There’s a huge list of things I don’t know anything about. If you’d like to share what you know about the Texas ballot, go right ahead.

      If you think “Centrism” is non-ideological by definition, then I can see why you would think that . I strongly disagree with you that centrism is non-ideological, although I would agree that it wants to be seen that way.

      Even if I agreed with what you say, which I don’t, Americans Elect is out there saying it is not affiliated with “left, right or center” — which is clearly not true. It is placing its stake at a particular spot in the political spectrum at the same time that it is saying more loudly that it’s not doing that, at the same time that it is organizing a political process to elect the most powerful person on the planet, a process it says won’t be based on the political positions of candidates.

      If you think that kind of twisting about is trivial, I guess I can’t change your mind, Lee. I don’t think it’s trivial.

  • Quick question to everyone out there, just because I’m curious:

    In your judgment, am I being as assholic and trivial as Lee says I am?

    • Kevin Hanna

      Hi Jim,
      I saw a link to this article on a friend’s facebook and thought that the title sounded like something I’d like to read. In fairness to you, I’ve never been on this site before, so I’m not familiar with your usual articles.
      I will say that I thought this article was a bit trivial. I was expecting a sort of “Americans for Prosperity is actually the Koch brothers” sort of realization. Instead, it’s just that a group who claims to have no party affiliation or political affiliation previously claimed to represent the political center. If this is a major contradiction, I fail to see it. If they claimed to be politically centrist, and are now claiming not to be, who are they distancing themselves from? Who are they trying to make it seem like they don’t support when in actuality they do? What bills and laws do they push that non-centrists would be upset about?
      I don’t know, just my two cents, since you asked.

      • Your questions are actually very easy to answer. I share the blogger here’s concerns about them being a secretive Super PAC, like so many others, that doesn’t release their donor info, but he assumes conspiracies in the shadows, whereas I go on what I can actually show.

        Every indication was they were aiming to be a more overtly centrist targeted group early on, but made a decision that they would go nonpartisan instead.

        In their system, whoever gets the most delegates to vote for them will get on the ballot in the states they get qualified. I got a direct answer from their COO, Elliot Ackerman, on this when I talked to him a few weeks ago. They don’t think it is likely, but if some fringe candidate was able to convince millions of supporters to join up, and there weren’t a whole lot more more mainstream delegates, they could indeed take the ticket.

        They take no stands on issues, nor are they pushing any particular bills. The closest thing to this is that delegates will decide on a series of questions that all potential candidates will have to answer.

        Personally, I wish they’d kept the centrist tack they had early on, but that’s not the direction they went.

        Solomon Kleinsmith
        Rise of the Center

    • tiradefaction

      Assholic, I don’t think so. Trivial, not really, though you may be stretching it a bit. Still, I share your suspicion that Americans Elect is beyond any “ideology”. This to me is usually a bad sign when any organized political group (especially financed with high finance) starts claiming such a mantle.

      I might just note that in my experience, those who use the term “centrist” to describe themselves tend to often have a rather narrow and rigid approach to politics as badly as the “wingnuts” they rage against on a regular basis. That’s been my experience over the years at least, not with all of them of course, but a great majority.

    • Of course I think you are not being an asshole. You are using rational and specific language about relevant political issues. I’m sure both you at Irregular times and they at AmericanSElect get plenty of truly vile and slanderous emails that could be posted as examples of talking assholes.

      I continue to hope that AmercanSelectUnityWhenever continues to be have as trivial impact on future elections as it has in the past. However the issues raised on this blog are non-trivial matters for a political party to address.

      For my part, I favor transparency and honesty over unity. If they get to put someone on the ballot, may it be a Republican so that side that gets split to ensure Obama re-election. However, based on the R candidates so far, O should be make it in a 1-on-1.

      • edit…I hope that AmercanSelectUnityWhenever continues to have as trivial impact…

      • Final clarification, I would prefer a progressive challenger to Obama, but I wouldn’t bet on such candidate coming from AE or getting much attention, so O is probably as good as it will get.

        • Jim

          If Americans Elect is a reliable process, then I definitely believe it could produce a real liberal candidate.

        • The only thing they do reliably is stonewall, right?

        • Well, I don’t know. I’m trying to keep an open (but skeptical) mind and say “wait and see.” There must be a revision of bylaws for Americans Elect to be what its promotional materials say it’s going to be. If there is such a revision of bylaws, then who knows? Maybe Americans Elect could live up to its hype. I always remind myself of the example of Carnegie Libraries: sometimes ultra-wealthy people who have built their fortunes off of manipulating others turn around and do something useful.

          Then again, we could get another Unity08 undemocratic, sneaky and secretive debacle, except with a ticket actually on the ballot.

          Time will tell, as long as we keep poking around. Otherwise time will be mute.

        • I checked out the intro process, and it shows the percentage of people who agree with you on each point in the survey of their issues. I must say there was a strong majority of agreement with my liberal votes favoring taxes to help people here and not harm people abroad, etc.

          They have a lot of questions like Do you favor or oppose X? where X is the sort of thing you might invest $50 Billion in research for only a 50% chance of success. Sure I’ll favor it if you tell me it’s a guaranteed option.

  • Americans Elect, today:

    Americans Elect doesn’t have an ideology or agenda, either.

    If you believe that “centrism” has no ideology, then you might believe that. But go tell me that Americans Elect doesn’t have an agenda after you watch the entire video I excerpted above at ae2012.org

    … oh, wait. You can’t. Today, Americans Elect promptly yanked ae2012.org down. Go try to load it. You can’t. It’s turned off. Somebody didn’t want you to see that video.

  • Your obsession over these people is creepy. Get a life man. Seriously.

    I wish they were openly centrist, and I saw all of the early indications that they might be, but they made the choice to pull back from that and be more nonpartisan and put the power into the hands of the delegates. If the delegates have all of the power, it doesn’t matter what the founders think. Whoever nets the most votes wins.

    • Felicia

      They “put the power into the hands of the delegates”?!? Are you kidding? Us little people are having our comments deleted by Americans Elect, who keeps us in the dark about what the organization is really up to. How on earth is this putting power into the hands of anyone but the corporate elites who run this sham? Americans Elect is a crock.

    • Got a life. Check. Married, kids, work, dog, happy. No goldfish, though. Maybe I should get a goldfish.

      Got an active media checking on the details of the talking points churned out over and over again by Elliot Ackerman. Check? Um, no. I think that’s kind of creepy, don’t you?

      Solomon, you were granted the privilege of an interview with Americans Elect some weeks ago. You haven’t posted the full text yet, have you? Would you do that? When are you going to do that?

      Finally, your declaration that “if the delegates have all of the power, it doesn’t matter what the founders think…” starts with “if the delegates have all of the power.” Read the Bylaws of Americans Elect, Solomon. The delegates do not have all of the power. Not by a longshot.

  • haha, asked whether Names of all political campaign donors should be published and donations should be limited, americanselect pseudo-delegates strongly agree they should. These questions will confirm what more scientific polls have told them about normal folks opinion over the years. They know what we want. We may get to hear it again (like in 2008), but I won’t expect it to be given.

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