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Americans Elect Leader Starts Whispering about 2016 with Reference to Roosevelt

In the leadup to 2008 and 2012, the effort to elect a corporate presidential candidate through a privatized, corporate-controlled election began with a series of planted letters to the editor or op-ed pieces or TV interviews in which “opinion leaders” spoke of supposed “centrist” yearnings in the heartland and their discovery of the exciting new “grassroots” movement called Unity08 (in 2008) or Americans Elect (in 2012). These “opinion leaders” often failed to disclose to their readers that they were in the leadership of or on the payroll of Unity08/Americans Elect (the same organization, right down to sharing the same office space). As the 2016 presidential campaign draws nearer, it’s reasonable to look for evidence that the leaders of Unity08 and Americans Elect are winding up their public relations apparatus again.

And, by gum, the whispers have begun. Kahlil Byrd, who in his time at Americans Elect took on just about every possible leadership title (Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Secretary, Treasurer, Custodian of Records, Party Coordinator, Director and Consultant), has promoted an article featuring interviews with Americans Elect leadership team member Mark McKinnon and its Secretary and Field Director Kellen Arno, explaining how Americans Elect was an idea before its time that only lacked a leader of courage willing to step forward. A leader of courage like who? Like Teddy Roosevelt, that’s who:

For as long as the United States has maintained its two-party system of government, reformers have dreamed of upending the status quo.

From Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party of 1912 to Ross Perot’s 1992 independent run for the White House, a smattering of real contenders in the last century pieced together personality-driven campaigns that threatened to change everything.

Byrd has written his own op-ed piece this month in which he asserts that a wave of activity by political entrepreneurs is gathering for the 2016 presidential election, looking to push forward a rough-riding political surfer just like (you guessed it) Teddy Roosevelt:

Political entrepreneurs are observing this election fermentation extra-close. The next president must be loud enough to be heard above a social media cacophony and the grinding sound of Washington gridlock. Our not-so-secret wish is that the next president be an aggressive, committed political reformer. Whether emerging from the right or left, this man or woman should seek to pattern the creativity, drive, and entrepreneurial spirit of Teddy Roosevelt — and be dedicated to moving beyond the petty incrementalism that currently grips Washington.

Between now and Election Day 2016, an army of creative political entrepreneurs is forming that can bring organization, funding, and implementation to a massive national reform agenda if laid out properly by the new president. And our promise to you Doris Kearns Goodwin is that we will bring more to the fight than just our teddy bears.

Be on the lookout for Americans Elect alums bearing enconiums for Theodore Roosevelt and dreams of 2016.

10 comments to Americans Elect Leader Starts Whispering about 2016 with Reference to Roosevelt

  • J Clifford

    So, Americans Elect now is seeking to align itself with the memory of an anti-peace racist who completely failed in the creation of a third political party.

    Why should we find this approach appealing?

    • Jim Cook

      Or at least its leaders are. Americans Elect as a corporation is gone, but it was a creation of a set of personalities, and those personalities continue to cohere. I am not sure the next iteration will call itself “Americans Elect.”

      • Bill

        If you listen carefully, you can practically hear the ringing battle cry of Byrd’s New Entrepreneurs Movement:

        What do we want?
        More H-1B visas for Indian C++ programmers!!!
        When do we want it?
        Now!!!

    • The Progressive Party started by Theodore Roosevelt came in 2nd in the presidential race, carrying 6 states and beating the Republican ticket. It elected 10 members of Congress. In 1914 it elected the Governor of California. It elected members of congress in 1914 and even as late as 1916. No nationally-organized third party has done so well since then. “Completely failed” is not an accurate description.

  • It is always interesting to deconstruct Byrd’s twirps (sorry, I couldn’t resist, and ‘tweets’ was already taken). Speaking, as he does, as the public face behind which privacy-addicted Wall Street tycoons conspire in the shadows, his words are a great barometer forecasting what our would-be New Overlords have in mind for us this election season. Below we consider not only the one Huffington Post Byrd essay linked to in this article, but also the two preceding ones in that series…Byrd is now busy cranking out these trial balloons at his masters’ behest, throwing buzzwords at the digital wall to see what will stick this election cycle.

    First, there’s this whole “entrepreneur” thing…Byrd’s byline at HuffPo brands him a “Political Entrepreneur” (as does his recently refreshed LinkedIn profile), and text analysis of Byrd’s growing HuffPo corpus reveals that variations on the word ‘entrepreneur’ comprise the single most frequent buzzword in his new lexicon. First, this is hilarious. Having been professionally active in the start-up technology world for decades now, we always have to suppress rueful smiles when we hear someone refer to himself as a ‘serial entrepreneur,’ since this almost always means “I’ve led more than one depressingly unsuccessful endeavor now lost in the mists of time after burning through mountains of other people’s money, and I never seem to learn.” Certainly this is true of Byrd, who followed his disastrous role as Wall Street tycoon Pete Ackerman’s front-man at the aborted Americans Elect Corporation (which Byrd’s LinkedIn profile touts as “our success”…with successes like that, who needs failures?) with a reprise as president of Wall Street shill Michelle Rhee’s union-busting and charter school-promoting StudentsFirst organization. Byrd’s tenure at that helm lasted all of six and a half months, sacrificed as he was at the altar of the organization’s embarrassing ‘Don’t Say Gay’ PR fiasco. With two successive expensive and embarrassing failures under his leadership belt, Byrd does indeed now qualify as a serial entrepreneur.

    But we digress. What is Byrd now trying to tell us with this incessant flinging of the word ‘entrepreneur’ at HuffPo readers’ screens? Simply this: that he and his masters have learned at least one lesson from the Americans Elect Corporation debacle. Gone is the old AECorp focus on the expansive demographic best characterized as the unwashed masses of internet-savvy youth, most of whom have travelled too far down the Occupy Trail to be redeemable at this point, and who, anyway, proved to be as hard to herd as a passel of squirrels, and certainly didn’t prove to be generous donors. AE 2.0 (to give Ackerman’s new initiative a useful handle) will now adopt a laser-like focus on youth with bucks. This is a much more cohesive affinity group, whose major interest (personal wealth and unhindered access to ever more of the same) coheres naturally with that of AE 2′s tycoon puppet masters. That, plus the fact that young entrepreneurs live or die by the availability of Wall Street financiers’ seed funding. If they know what’s good for them, they’ll STFU and fall in line.

    The other major buzzword in Byrd’s new lexicon is ‘reform.’ Nothing new here; that was Unity08′s shtick, too, as well as AECorp’s, and StudentsFirst’s, and AE’s old fellow-traveller, No Labels (which earns special mention in Byrd’s column). What sort</em of reforms? Don't even ask. When we want you to know, we'll tell you. Enticingly, Byrd cites advances in "the Freedom to Marry movement, Fiscal Reform, Campaign Finance Reform, Education, Health Care, and Guns." Now this is interesting, since AECorp assiduously shunned ‘social’ issues, but AE 2.0 now moves these to the fore. Indeed, one of Byrd’s three essays focuses almost exclusively on lessons learned from the “Freedom to Marry Movement” (God forbid we should call it ‘Gay Rights!’). AE 2.0, unlike its forefather, knows which way the wind is blowing. You want gay rights? You got ‘em. Pity the poor buffalo? Byrd will happily sing the praises of Teddy Roosevelt’s creation of the National Park system. Now let’s talk more about ‘campaign finance reform’ (i.e., we want to spend even more dark money with even less visibility). Instead of pretending that social issues are ‘divisive,’ as the old AECorp did, AE 2.0 will tell young well-off progressives whatever they want to hear about social issues, then cut right back to what counts: buying compliant pols who will advance Wall Street’s financial concerns. In short, AE 2.0 will attempt to build a political force centered on socially progressive, fiscally conservative well-heeled young entrepreneurs, who think the freedom to love whom you will is just fine, provided we kill Social Security and Medicare, axe all other discretionary federal spending, abolish the estate tax, slash the corporate tax rate, and enable tax-free repatriation of off-shore profits.

    Who’s your daddy?

    • Jim Cook

      More evidence that Byrd hasn’t left behind interest in Americans Elect: he’s following your Twitter account, AETransparency.

      • Just as I’m sure he’s reading every word you write here about AE 2.0. With the Hydra writhing once again, we’re fixin’ to light back up both our Twitter feed and our AETransparency blog. See if maybe, between you and us, we can once again manage to negate another $35 million or so of Pete Ackerman’s and his clubhouse chums’ cold dark cash. Woot! Good times!

  • Tom

    Great! We can call it the Bull Shit Party.

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