- (Photo: AP Images / Julie Jacobson)
Every four years, Americans typically get reminded of the limitations of a two-party political system. Candidates running for either party typically campaign toward the more extreme ideologies, jousting for the title of “most conservative” or “most liberal” candidate of the pact.
However, this leaves a lot of moderate voters feeling disenfranchised about the fact that most candidates do not reflect their middle-of-the-road views. Americans Elect is hoping to change that.
The nonprofit and nonpartisan group became public this summer in July, but the main efforts began in 2008 after a failed effort to provide an alternative in the presidential race.
“In the two-party system we have right now, there’s a lot of barriers just to get to the general election. A candidate must please one of the two parties. It’s hard for someone to run and not be affiliated with one of the parities. Americans Elect is going to open up a lot of opportunities for others to run,” Dagney Leonard, regional press secretary for Americans Elect, told The Christian Post.
The organization has supporters on both sides of the political aisle and, according to The Associated Press, has already raised $22 million. No money from special interest groups is accepted and donations must come from individuals.
So far, ballots have been secured in the states of Florida, Alaska, Nevada, Kansas, Arizona, Ohio and Michigan. It has submitted signatures for certification in California, Utah and Hawaii.
Leonard said that the group’s goal is to put a nonpartisan candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.
“We are going to have an open nominating convention in June. The winner will inherit the Americans Elect ticket to be on the ballot.”
All voting is done online.
Whoever wins the nomination must pick a running mate from the opposite party. For example, if a Republican ends up winning the ticket, he or she must then select a candidate from another party to be the vice presidential nominee. This system will help ensure that the candidates stay in the middle of the political spectrum.
Leonard said that this method of picking the vice president would not create a political roadblock within the ticket.
“The point is that the people who will be running are people who are open minded and willing to reach across the aisle. We don’t anticipate the method being a roadblock but rather an example of how to work together.”
Kellen Arno, the national field director, told The Christian Post that the two established parties weren’t crazy about the idea of another nominating process.
“I don’t think they like us. Competition of the ballot is not a good thing for parties.”
However, Arno explained that support on the ground is strong. The organization has 2,500 people who have signed up to be leaders within the movement and 135 campus leaders across the country.
“We’re just trying to get out there and talk to folks. We have an uphill battle as far as getting the word out, but once people have heard about the idea they have been receptive.”
“The main thing is, it’s unique. Currently, no matter where you go politically you have to compromise something. It’s all about choice.”
However, Will Marshall, one of the group’s leaders and president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist Democratic think tank, told AP that he “approaches the effort with some trepidation,” concerned that a third choice could skew the election results and be a spoiler.
Americans Elect refutes that notion, saying that putting the choice into the hands of registered voters will ensure a fair selection of a qualified nominee.