Tribalism's Triumph

« May 2012 »


As much as I decry tribalism in American politics, I hate centrism more. And the two aren't mutually exclusive. Tribalism is the blind following of one political party regardless of what they do, how they behave, or how their stated policies affect you personally. It's deciding that one side is your "team", and that whatever they do, you have to defend it, because if you don't, your team won't win.

Centrism, on the other hand, is the automatic assumption that anyone who DOES follow a political party because of what they do, how they behave, or how their stated policies affect them personally will end up somewhere between the positions of the two political parties, requiring some sort of "best of both worlds" difference-splitting candidate or party bringing them together.

Both these positions are fucking stupid. I don't have to blindly agree with everything Democrats in order to believe that pretty much every single Republican idea is repugnant. I don't need Michael Bloomberg to save me from the dual and totally equal dangers of rampant homophobia and Muslim college students. And I don't need Americans Elect trying to sell me a hundred million dollar version of a Which Centrist White Douchebag Are You online poll as the future of politics.

If you haven't heard about Americans Elect, you clearly don't surf the web. They've spent... well, I don't know how much they've spent because I don't know how much online ads cost. But even if they cost a penny apiece, Amercans Elect have clearly spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars trying to convince people to vote online for a third candidate to run against Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. How'd that work out?

Well, 9300 people voted for Ron Paul. What the fuck? Running an online poll and getting fewer than 10,000 people to vote for Ron Paul is like putting a cat video up on YouTube and getting less than 10,000 views. Paulites have a gland where their frontal lobes should be. This gland allows them to detect when Ron Paul is competing in something - physically or virtually, near them, or halfway around the globe. It's a power that is, unfortunately, impossible to use for good, but it should have drawn them to Americans Elect in much higher numbers. Paul still won, of course. I mean, ONLINE POLL.

In second place, Buddy Roemer, with just under 6,000 votes, which are the same 6,000 people who voted for Buddy Roemer in the entire Republican primary. Roemer tried to run based on the twin principles of honesty and no money, which served him only slightly better in the Fake Centrist movement than it did in the GOP.

Third place, with under 4,000 votes, was Jon Huntsman, because why the fuck not? Fourth place, with slightly fewer votes than Jon Huntsman, was Rocky Anderson, who got all his votes from name recognition. Not his name - Rocky Balboa and Dwayne Johnson's names, but still, an admirable feat. Bernie Sanders got 2,700 votes despite not being a centrist. Michealine Risley got 2,200 votes. And it's all, if you can even believe it, downhill from there.

Were this process to have actually been a success, all the qualifying nominees would have been distilled down through a series of other online polls which they, delucionally, called caucuses. Unfortunately, Americans Elect set a bar of 10,000 (for people with political experience, because that's what finding a new way is all about) or 50,000 (for random schlubs) support clicks in order to even make it into the caucuses. They were, in fact, nearly 700 people away from being forced to, under their own rules, automatically put Ron Paul's name on all the state ballots they've spent millions of dollars trying to get on.

Having covered themselves with their own pee, Americans Elect CEO Khalil Byrd opted not to convince us that it was rain, and instead opted to convince us that the sun was shining, his clothes were completely dry, and we didn't smell any ammonia.

Americans Elect has focused on achieving three clear goals: Gaining nationwide ballot access for a third presidential ticket to compete in the 2012 race, holding the first ever nonpartisan secure national online primary at, and fielding a credible, balanced, unaffiliated ticket for the 2012 presidential race.

The first didn't happen. The most recent news item on their site says they got on the ballot in Maryland, and touts the fact that now they're on enough ballots that their candidate can receive 270 electoral votes. This was put up YESTERDAY. So yesterday, they got on enough state ballots that if their candidate somehow won every single one of those states and got all the electoral votes from those states, they'd just barely manage to take the presidency. That's only "nationwide" ballot access if they're calling t "at least one state on each coast". And if they got a state on the West Coast.

The second didn't happen. I mean, they sort of started it, but since holding a national online primary is the entire point of their organization, successfully starting that and not finishing it is not terribly impressive. It'd be like me saying my goal was to create a long-running series of columns on the Internet and then stopping at ten.

And the third? Utter fail. They are fielding no ticket. Almost none of their top vote-getters are even unaffiliated. Balanced would somehow require them finding TWO people, and they couldn't even find one. And none of these fuckers are credible. But this didn't stop Byrd from following this immediately with:

"Through the efforts of thousands of staffers, volunteers, and leadership, Americans Elect has achieved every stated operational goal."

Well, no. No, you didn't. Not even by the loosest possible definition of your operational goal. Not even if you throw out your incredibly generous rules, replace them with something that'll allow you to pretty much appoint a couple of people to the ticket (not Paul, obviously) and call them your "ticket".

Americans Elect did provide one valuable service, though. They serve as a guidepost and example. You know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that anyone who takes them seriously and thinks they're a great idea is an utter fuckhead, and you can feel free to disregard anything else they say. Or, as it's more commonly known in layman's terms, "stop watching Dylan Ratigan".