SYNDICATED COLUMN: American Select

Wall Street-Backed Third Party Flogs Fake Democracy

For “1984” Orwell conjured up a one-party state so powerful and pervasive that it was forced to create a phony “resistance” movement led by a fiction-within-a-fiction, Emmanuel Goldstein.

This past Sunday’s New York Times op/ed column by Thomas Friedman, the hackiest hack in American mediadom, presents a Goldstein for America 2012: a third party whose candidate would purportedly be chosen by we, the people. “Thanks to a quiet political start-up that is now ready to show its hand,” writes Friedman, “a viable, centrist, third presidential ticket, elected by an Internet convention, is going to emerge in 2012.”

Amend that: rather than being chosen by we the people, whose ideologies span the gamut, this candidate would be picked by a tiny segment of centrists, i.e. the fraction of the electorate whose ideology falls between the Democratic and Republican parties.

Alas, Friedman continues. He always does.

“The goal of Americans Elect is to take a presidential nominating process now monopolized by the Republican and Democratic parties, which are beholden to their special interests, and blow it wide open—guaranteeing that a credible third choice, nominated independently, will not only be on the ballot in every state but be able to take part in every presidential debate and challenge both parties from the middle with the best ideas on how deal with the debt, education and jobs.”

The world may not be flat. Friedman’s prose, on the other hand…

Check it: there were 80 words in that sentence. A typical op/ed column is 650 words. Thomas Friedman could write an entire column in eight sentences.

Maybe the bizarro world of American journalism, in which Friedman deserves Pulitzers and #1 bestsellers while fellow Timesman Paul Krugman can’t get arrested on national TV, is correct. Only a genius could get paid for this.

Like the proles of “1984,” Americans of all political stripes are disgusted with the Democrats and Republicans. Americans Elect offers a tantalizing prospect to a populace starving for representation worthy of them and the problems that face our nation: genuine democracy free of big corporate money.

So who is Americans Elect?

Their website, americanselect.org, reads more like American Select.

There’s good reason for that.

Americans Elect, Friedman writes as though his readers would approve, is based in “swank offices, financed with some serious hedge-fund money, a stone’s throw from the White House.”

Just what we need—another phony Astroturf movement (hello, Tea Party) financed by thieving Wall Street hedge-fund scum.

Americans Elect is run by “Elliot Ackerman, an Iraq war veteran with a Silver Star, who serves as the chief operating officer of Americans Elect, and whose father, Peter, a successful investor, has been a prime engine behind the group.”

Talk about opaque! Elliot Ackerman, all of 30 years old, isn’t even listed on Wikipedia.

Let’s not get into how and where Mr. Zillionaire War Hero scored his Silver Star. Oh, let’s: it was for massacring local Iraqi resistance fighters defending Fallujah from U.S. occupation troops.

Anyway.

Ackerman & Son want to acquire nothing less than the United States of America. First they should probably learn how to name a website. Not to mention build one. Unless you register you get bumped one screen into their “my colors” page, which is supposed to measure where your politics are on the right-to-left-o-meter.

They might have fixed the website before calling Thomas Friedman, but whatever.

The proposed political mechanics of Americans Elect are beyond naïve. They’re so silly that a 7th grade civics student would laugh out loud.

“Any presidential nominee” resulting from the Internet nominations for president, Friedman says, would have to be “considered someone of similar stature to our previous presidents. That means no Lady Gaga allowed.”

In other words, you can vote for anyone you like, as long as it’s an Old White Protestant Male. Nice democracy you got there, Mssrs. Hedge Fund. Why not open things up? Whatever you think of her wardrobe, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta hadn’t destroyed the economy or started pointless wars.

Now for the best bad part. “Each presidential candidate has to pick a running mate outside of their party and reaching across the divide of politics,” sayeth Ackerman the Lesser, He Who Slaughtered the Ragheads of Fallujah.

So old-fashioned party politics do come into it.

Ds can run with Rs, Rs can run with Ds, socialists and libertarians need not apply. Oh, and why would anyone run for president knowing that their Old White Protestant Male running mate would be one heartbeat away from reversing everything you cared about?

Concludes chief cheerleader Friedman: “What Amazon.com did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music, what drugstore.com did to pharmacies, Americans Elect plans to do to the two-party duopoly that has dominated American political life.”

Drugstore.com? Really, Tom?

Big cheese at the Times. Makes high six, more like low seven, figures. Proof that anyone can make it in America, as long as they’re not smart.

“Serious hedge-fund money” aside, Americans Elect doesn’t stand a chance against the billions of corporate dollars lined up behind the Dems and GOP. But that isn’t stopping mainstream media like NPR and the cable news networks from giving them publicity—and thus false hope to a public in dire need of real solutions, not more charlatans.

Just like Emmanuel Goldstein, Americans Elect accomplishes something remarkable. It offers a third-party alternative so phony and disappointing that it can only make Americans more cynical than they are already.

Which makes me wonder. Are these guys the pompous clods they look like, or agents provacateur hastening the Revolution?

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto.” His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2011 TED RALL

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8 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: American Select

  1. 5) Thomas Friedman forgot to write one day and the entire world became smarter and more informed.

    6) Chuck Norris never truly fought the power because he was afraid of what Thomas Friedman would write about him.

    7) Hitler lost because he had Joseph Goebbels instead of Thomas Friedman.

    8) Thomas Friedman once got published in the New York Times by signing his name under the graffiti in a bathroom stall.

    9) Thomas Friedman doesn’t have a mustache; the fuzziness above his upper lip is just the visible effects of his mouth distorting reality.

    10) Under Thomas Friedman’s double chin lies another inescapably trapped chin; under that, the truth.

    11) Thomas Friedman once wrote an entire serialized set of essays on the benefits of globalization while he was on vacation by outsourcing all of the work to India.

    12) Thomas Friedman killed Chuck Norris by explaining to him why life can’t exist, and then resurrected him by explaining to Death why Chuck Norris never existed.

  2. “Thomas Friedman could write an entire column in eight sentences.”

    I still love this line. it is true, but it makes me laugh so hard every time I read it. Except for the fact that it is correct, it sounds like one of those now passe Chuck Noris Jokes as seen immortalized here:

    http://www.chucknorrisfacts.com/

    Someone should start the Tomas Friedman variants thereof. Here I’ll kick it off:

    1) Tomas Friedman can earn a six figure income without doing any work.

    2) Tomas Friedman isn’t just a media hack who maintains the status-quo, the status-quo is just a publicity stunt to maintain Tomas Friedman.

    3) Tomas Friedman once got paid for an op/ed he didn’t even write, and the publisher asked him to do it again.

    4) Tomas Friedman doesn’t write opinion editorials, he writes THE opinion and THE editorial.

    ect…

  3. Ted, I do love this op-ed, and your cynical rage hit some particularly humors bits that really cracked me up and appealed to me. However, my one comment on how it is written, is that to convince others who don’t already share your perspective you may need make your delightfully cynical and mocking wrath a little more subtle. People listen to Friedmen because he does not cross a key threshold of sounding too emotional or personal making him appear to be what Paul Krugman refers to as a “Very Serious Person” even though he is, as you correctly and most amusingly surmised, “the hackiest hack in American mediadom.”

    Don’t get me wrong, I love your rage and antagonism. Impassioned writing makes for the best reading and you have it mastered. But to appeal to and convince the broadest possible audience you may need to adopt some of the more muted mannerisms of the “Very Serious People” on occation. A hard line to walk to be sure.

    On another note, personally I like the thought of this “new and independent” third party that is really anything but. It helps in a number of subtle ways.

    1) it divides up the votes of all the shameful ignorant American masses who are dumb enough to take hacks like Friedman seriously and who have been destroying this nation with their two party faithful vote thus causing the voting for legitimate third parties to get a larger % of the vote relative to the two main parties. Once legitimate third parties start getting vote percentages closer to that of the main parties, it will: a) encourage more people to vote for legitimate third parties because the closer voting percentages increase the perception that they could win with just a bit more interest and support. b) It forces the candidates of the main parties (and the fake third party) to start addressing some of the issues championed by the more prominent third party candidates because that is the only way to prevent more voters from fleeing to the more prominent legitimate third parties.

    2) Currently much of the debates and campaigning are wasted on personal attacks or near equivalents. When their are only two (visible) candidates this is the most effective way to campaign as negative feelings about the only viable opponent are a more effective means to obtain votes then meaningful debates on issues that may force you to take a populous stand on something or more visibly betray the people once elected thus resulting in more negative consequences for doing so. Thus even a third puppet candidate should force an increase in more meaningful campaigning and debate, if only slightly.

    3) The democrats automatically count on obtaining their liberal base votes and thus simply do things to appeal to the so called “center”. If the center is no longer a viable source of obtaining votes for them as it has been gobbled up by a fake third party, then the democrats may be forced to start looking left again to obtain more votes. The left becomes the only direction they can hope to expand with two parties gobbling up main stream votes to their right.

    4) There become more potentially electable candidates meaning their are more candidates corporations have to divide there bribe funds between to get their corporate agenda addressed. As such the amount of bribes per politician theoretically decreases by about 1/3 on average when going from two electable to three potentially electable candidates. This could make politicians slightly less corrupt relative to the hypothetical alternative where they are getting more corporate bribe money when the large bribe funds are only divided two ways instead of three.

  4. In a nutshell, democracy only works with an informed and concerned populace. It is too easy for ruling classes to distort and thereby divide and conquer. Democracy also allows the government to endlessly cycle blame around; without accountability, there is no government for the people. Therefore it is unlikely democracy will ever ‘work.’

  5. The duopoly is maintained because people are afraid to waste their votes, so I would like to see a system where no vote is wasted. We can all vote for our favorite Kuciniches, Naders, Perots, Bachmanns, etc. and if no one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, things get interesting. A subset of the candidates then has to form a better-than-50% coalition to thereby elect a mutually agreed upon person. If they can’t get their act together in time, we have a do over. Things would be even more interesting if the 50% thresholds were raised to, say, 70%.

  6. Pingback: Proverbs 26:11 – “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.” | Laughing Tom Paine

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