Publicly, the big money backers of Americans Elect merely want to provide a “second way” of nominating a presidential candidate. They’re a new process, not a political party, they say. They also claim to have no ideology, no platform, and no partisan goals.
If you believe that hedge fund millionaires are willing to hand over $30 million to fund Americans Elect without some guarantee of a return on their investment, I’ve got a portfolio of credit default swaps I’d like to sell you.
Over the past week, we’ve investigated the money behind the group, its anti-democratic bylaws, and its efforts to become a political party in Oregon. The evidence is abundantly clear that Americans Elect is not a grassroots organization, and that the millionaires who’ve funded it don’t really want open democracy.
So what do they want? Given how resistant they’ve been to disclosure and honest political discussion, we can only speculate. However, it’s a safe assumption that Americans Elect’s backers want to see the winner of the 2012 presidential election be someone who will be friendly to rich people and the financial industry.
As we’ve pointed out, Americans Elect’s own internal rules allow for the Board of Directors to game the system in order to put up their favored candidate, regardless of what a majority of Americans Elect delegates think. One way they could insure a victory for Wall Street is by nominating a candidate that pulls enough votes away from President Obama to give the election to the GOP candidate.
Judging by the makeup of the existing members of Americans Elect, this is a real possibility. When members sign up, they are asked to take a questionnaire that examines political beliefs. Members can then see the aggregated responses from around the country. In nearly every subject, wide majorities or strong pluralities of current members support the progressive position.
–79% of members support full same-sex marriage rights.
–68% think the federal government should have a major or sole role in providing health care
–55% think we should solve the US budget deficit by raising taxes alone or by more tax increases than spending cuts
–And 71% think the government should impose additional regulations on businesses
Despite the claims by the founders of Americans Elect that they’re pushing for a centrist, “moderate” middle, a majority of their members so far hold progressive beliefs.
Perhaps that’s by design, or perhaps it’s a function of the type of voter who is attracted to supposedly grassroots democracy. Or, perhaps, this has been the strategic plan of Americans Elect’s founders all along.
The results, however, could end up putting the nation much closer to electing a president who puts the needs of corporations and the rich ahead of the needs of working families.