Americans Elect?

Tom Friedman’s piece nudged me to click on Americanselect .  A little bit more political competition can’t be a bad thing?  Can the Internet reduce the barriers to entry and the power of “smoke filled rooms”?    Will incumbent politicians change their policy positions in response to this new competition?

Author: Matthew E. Kahn

Professor of Economics at UCLA.

15 thoughts on “Americans Elect?”

  1. I thought that was yet another willfully naive Friedman column. A viable “radical center” effort such as Americanselect would be a disastrous response to our current difficulties. It does not address the two major threats to our current politics–Right-wing Republican nihilism and the legislative pathologies rooted in our overly polarized House and our sclerotic Senate structures. The two-party system frustrates because it pushes both parties towards the political center. Since the median voter is often wrong about many social justice and economic issues, this brings real costs. In the long-run, though, the two-party duopoly provides a valuable safeguard against a Ross Perot or worse seizing political power. In seeking to empower the “radical center” we might further empower the radical right and left. I think this would be unwise, though I myself locate fairly left on specific issues. Many voices, one clear binary choice.

  2. This isn’t Nader. Right and left insurgent candidates are one thing. This is a bunch of self-important people deciding that if it wasn’t for all those politicians with their silly policy disagreements and having to deal with actual people we could all get along and elect Micheal Bloomberg dictator for life and be happy.

  3. You want to study comparative election systems, and cogitate on what might be better for future generations of Americans, I am with you. With a long enough time frame, anything is possible. However, for the next generation, let alone the 2012 election cycle, the chance of dislodging the duopoly in this country is infinitesimal. Plan your political activism accordingly.

  4. I don’t know. People love to bemoan politicians, especially for not being able to get things done. But when there isn’t consensus in the public, there isn’t going to be one in government. How many issues exist where a large majority of the public is opposed by a large group of politicians? It seems to me that much of the actual unwillingness to compromise right now comes from the right, where the tea party movement was built around a determination to not give in on a strict set of principles. It remains to be seen whether this sort of intransigency will be punished by voters at the polls, or whether they will even disapprove of the results.

  5. It would get taken over by (if it was not in fact initiated by) knowledgeable shills for corporations or other special interests, exploiting the naivete of those who think they’re actually getting in on a grass-roots movement. Just like the Tea Party.

    The real problem is that the structure of the Congress, especially Senate representation, allows for (1) gridlock and (2) takeover by special interests.

    Sometimes I think about a Parliamentary system …

  6. Sometimes I think about a Parliamentary system …

    The secret is US has a parliamentary system -modeled after the British 18th century one. The wonderful advantage of the British largely unwritten constitution was that it continued to evolve as the importance of govt doing thing became more desirable than blocking change. What US needs is a constitutional convention, to come up with a constitution designed for at least the 20th century.

  7. Remember Diebold. We can’t go handing over our elections to the machines or their owners.

    Plus, have you ever seen the Action Forum at moveon? Everything that’s wrong with the Left in one handy location.

  8. J Canuck, do go on, I’d like to hear more. Would it be wonderful for a ruling coalition to go out of power if they can’t get a consensus on a major vote?

    How does that work? I only know what I know from reading Anthony Trollope novels. I would like a better framework for understanding.

  9. This is Nader!!!! Peru’s recent election is evidence of that. All Americans must stand together against the far-right. We cannot afford to splinter the field in the upcoming election. The far-right will lie, cheat, and steal their way into the White House. This election is actually far more important than the last one. Too many progressives and centrists are spending too much time whining and are unable to see that the far-right is capable of remaking America in their image. The danger is truly there this time and we have to stand together. Whether Obama is perfect or imperfect is no longer the issue. He has to be our man this time around or America could be a very different country in a short period of time. Every one of my friends thought I was mad when I predicted a full 12 months before the election that Bush would beat Gore. The far-right is counting on the center and the left to be utterly and completely disorganized, disengaged, and unwilling to fight dirty. Just like in 2000.
    The Koch brothers are counting on it. They are actually betting on it. It is part of their plan. It is tragic for so many Americans to be a foregone conclusion.

  10. thanks amer.elect i am fed up with no one taking the reign here this government have become a circus seriously with both parties afraid of the tea party the dems are pitiful i picture them in the corner with the dunce hat on saying i dont know you tell me afraid to do anything this deficit bill pass without raising taxes on the rich if saving the wealthier on their taxes created jobs where are they where are all those jobs at cause that loophole has been going on for the last ten yrs

  11. Americans Elect

    Who funded this organization? Who are the directors of the organization?

    The idea is good. But the fact that the organization is deliberately not mentioning the founders, shows bad faith. Transparency should be paramount for an internet based initiative.

    I have a very strong feeling that we are being played for chumps for someone with an vested interest in influencing the upcoming 2012 election towards one party or another. Without transparency, it is a reasonable assumption.

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