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.