Do you miss the audaciously loopy drama of the 2012 political corporation Americans Elect? If so, don’t fret; you’re just going to love “We Need Smith,” a new, mysterious effort to promote political candidates for national office.
Do you miss Americans Elect’s unintentionally self-deprecating PR-talk? You’ll love “We Need Smith.” Leader Patrick Caddell’s case for “Mr. Smith” appears in a recent Huffington Post article:
“Caddell and a team of allies are using the study as a springboard to launch We Need Smith, a populist version of the Americans Elect effort that flopped in its campaign to draw a corporate, centrist presidential candidate into the 2012 election with the promise of tens of millions of dollars in backing. Caddell argues that the Americans Elect approach was wildly out of touch and that popular disaffection with the two parties does not mean that voters crave a bland centrist. What they want, he thinks, is someone in the mold of the Jimmy Stewart character who challenged government corruption in ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.'”
Either the leaders of “We Need Smith” haven’t actually watched “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” or they’re guessing that their targets haven’t watched the film. If you’ve watched the film, you know that Jimmy Stewart’s Jefferson Smith character has no idea what he’s doing, has no idea how the Senate works, signs documents without reading them, is manipulated into serving private moneyed interests, punches reporters who point out his incompetence, is distracted from work to chase after a fellow Senator’s daughter, goes sightseeing instead of working on the Senate floor, and only starts to complain when he is personally threatened. This is what we need more of in national politics?
Do you miss Americans Elect’s patriotic stock photos? Do you miss the references to an “outside” “non-partisan” “movement” written by DC beltway partisans in a corporate office? You’ll love “We Need Smith.”
With its rippling flags, you just know that the We Need Smith splash page is patriotic. It would vote on the shores of Normandy right now if that sort of thing were legal. But is it really “outside the broken Washington system”? Er, not so much; it turns out that the three named leaders of “We Need Smith” are right-leaning Washington, DC insiders. Patrick Caddell has been a presidential aide and pollster, and for his current gig rails against liberalism as a token “Democrat” at Fox News and as a columnist at the conservative Breitbart site. Bob Perkins has held leadership positions in the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee. Scott Miller is an advertising executive who has advised the Bush/Cheney campaign and the National Republican Senate Campaign Committee; this year, he gave money to the Republican National Committee.
Together, they aren’t leading a grassroots social movement; they’re running a company called Armada Publishing, and it is that company which launched “We Need Smith”.
Do you miss Americans Elect’s repeated refusal to name its donors? You’ll love “We Need Smith.” Publicity materials for “We Need Smith” declare of its ideal candidate that he/she would “Require every group that lobbies the government to disclose all of its donors. Smith does not want to limit free speech, but the people have a right to know who is speaking.” Yet “We Need Smith” has failed to disclose any of the sources of the funding for its political operations.
Do you miss the way Americans Elect hid its platform behind vague, meaningless language? You’ll love “We Need Smith.” The following are the “positions” that “Candidate Smith” must hold:
“Candidate Smith says our broken political system is failing all of us. Special interests and lobbyists control the politicians and the politicians keep getting elected because they divide us against each other and make single issue promises to buy our support. Smith says we can’t change anything with the usual politics, and the usual politicians, and the usual interest groups. We need new leaders from mainstream America, like Candidate Smith, who take on the political elites and special interests and put the American people in charge again.”
Look closely: those are no positions at all. But they sure do sound good, just like baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.
If this kind of tricksy political drama gives you the giggles, be sure to follow “We Need Smith.” We can hope for many unintentional laughs from this outfit in the election seasons to come.