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Internet-Based Political Party Opens Doors 291

AlamedaStone writes "New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Thomas L. Friedman writes (edited for brevity): 'If [...] idiocy by elected officials [...] leaves you wishing that we had more options today [...] not only are you not alone, but help may be on the way. Thanks to a quiet political start-up that is now ready to show its hand, a viable, centrist, third presidential ticket, elected by an Internet convention, is going to emerge in 2012.' Currently it looks like more liberal-inclined individuals are registering, but it would make for a healthier system if more viewpoints were represented."
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Internet-Based Political Party Opens Doors

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  • Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @09:38AM (#36862262)

    Wake me when the US voting system actually gives a third party a chance to play any role.

    • Wake me up when /. posts a non-NYT ad prompting me to log in.

      And when, if talking about a web-based political party, actually gives the hyperlink for it.

      • Re:Yawn (Score:5, Informative)

        by tagno25 ( 1518033 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @10:10AM (#36862440)

        As the group explains on its Web site, []: “Americans Elect is the first-ever open nominating process. We’re using the Internet to give every single voter — Democrat, Republican or independent — the power to nominate a presidential ticket in 2012. The people will choose the issues. The people will choose the candidates. And in a secure, online convention next June, the people will make history by putting their choice on the ballot in every state.”

      • Wake me up when /. posts a non-NYT ad prompting me to log in.

        I don't know if it's a function of my NoScript or ABP, but I never get prompted for a login to NYT as long as I go in the "front door", so to speak. []
        "A Third Way" is the title, and it's on the right of the page.

        • I just use the provided summary link, but my user agent is set to Googlebot... also running NoScript and ABP.
    • Re:Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MikeURL ( 890801 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @10:55AM (#36862716) Journal

      If you are going to shit on any efforts and will only pay attention when there is a fully reformed electoral system then your wake up call might be a fascist dictatorship.

      Apathy and sarcasm are good ways to unplug from a system that seems too broken to fix. But it is an attitude that assures continued decline. The internet was supposed to transform politics and so far it hasn't really happened. All that the internet has helped raise more money for the same old candidates pushing the same old agenda.

      Will this effort work? I don't know but I'm not just going to throw up my hands in disgust.

      • All that the internet has helped raise more money for the same old candidates pushing the same old agenda.

        Actually, to be fair, w/o the Internet, Obama would not be president right now.

        No, not because McCain would've won, but because w/o the Internet and its organizing power, Hillary Clinton would have likely won the convention, and Obama would have been a footnote. Sure, he had a strong press backing, but so did many other candidates in the field.

        Now honestly? Not a democrat here, and I never supported Obama with a dollar or a vote. OTOH, I am rather impressed how a short-tenure (one or two term?) senator mana

        • by MikeURL ( 890801 )
          So he broke the back of the machine by surrounding himself with wall streeters, lobbyists, and political hacks?
      • It's not the effort that's disgusting, it's the perverse result that will inevitably happen. People voting for a liberal thinking internet party are more likely to be democrats, ergo the republicans will win the election. Sad but true.
        • by Nursie ( 632944 )

          More likely to "be" democrats?
          Are you born with an affiliation stamped on your ass?

          Besides which, allowing the mildly greater of two evils in while you try and actually change something, that seems like a good idea to me.

          • More likely to "be" democrats?

            More likely to have voted democrat if the big two had been the only options.

            Besides which, allowing the mildly greater of two evils in while you try and actually change something, that seems like a good idea to me.

            Good luck with that. By all means get the movement going, but don't actually participate in the elections just yet. Maybe if the movement gathered enough steam, you could push for a more honest election system. Until then, you're basically guaranteeing republican rule for decades to come if you do participate.

    • I disagree. Third parties have played a huge role in several elections in the past. By stealing votes from the democrats and thereby handing the victory to the republicans. Some might even say it was intentional.
      • Re:Yawn (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mdf356 ( 774923 ) <mdf356 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday July 24, 2011 @12:50PM (#36863378) Homepage

        And vice-versa; Clinton won in 1992 partly due to the (R) vote being split between Bush and Perot. Or, more accurately, more people who would have voted for Bush (or not voted) than people who would have voted for Clinton (or not voted) voted for Perot. Maybe. You see how complicated this is? Without Perot in the 1992 election it's impossible to say what would have happened -- would the Perot voters have stayed home, or voted for Clinton, or Bush? Even a survey at the polling locations couldn't tell for sure.

        There have been other elections with "independents" where the vote was split in odd ways, like the 2006 gubernatorial election in Texas, where Rick Perry (the incumbent, on the (R) ticket) was up against Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a (R) who skipped the primaries since she couldn't win them, the (D) candidate Chris Bell, a libertarian candidate, the truly independent and famous (in Texas) Kinky Friedman, and a write-in campaign for someone forgettable. The vote broke down as:

        39% Perry (R)
        29.8% Bell (D)
        18% Strayhon
        12.6% Friedman
        0.6% Libertarian

        Now, whose votes did Kinky Friedman "steal"? And whose did Strayhorn? And what would have happened with an IRV system? And how many elections in the U.S. would be different (in ways good and bad) with an IRV election?

    • by kent_eh ( 543303 )
      Here's the cahched version [] for those who can't get in for some reason.
    • Wake me when the US voting system actually gives a third party a chance to play any role.

      The problem is not the US voting system, but the US voter. I am told frequently that a vote for [insert-third-party-candidate] is really a vote for [first-or-second-party-candidate]. Many US voters vote against a candidate (by voting the other party most likely to defeat said candidate) rather than for a candidate. I decided two presidential elections ago that I would vote *for* the candidate of my choice, rather than against the candidate I liked least. If more voters would follow, we'd see the rise of

  • Any presidential nominee must conform to all the Constitutional requirements, as well as be considered someone of similar stature to our previous presidents. That means no Lady Gaga allowed.

    Where would we be without movie star politicians?

    • That doesn't have anything to do with movie star politics. More that Lady Gaga has supporters, is well liked, seems to know how to make a lot of money and have a positive cash flow and how to generate a flock of followers of all trades and areas, aside maybe the die hard ultraconservatives.

      This is by no means in any way "of similar stature" than any previous president I could think of right now.

  • Currently it looks like more liberal-inclined individuals are registering

    Yes, and I wouldn't expect that to change, any more than I expect AM radio to not be dominated by conservatives.

    Granted, this story is written by the guy who was able to bless the world with a unit of time measurement that has since been named after him; Friedman Unit [] He doesn't exactly have a good track record in predicting future events, much less future political events.

  • "We have 87 million members in our party, based on people having to do the equivalent of signing a Facebook petition!"
    "Great! How many of them are going to vote for our candidate?"
    "10. No wait, 11, I forgot our candidate can vote for himself."

  • This isn't very promising:

    Kahlil Byrd, the C.E.O. of Americans Elect, speaking from its swank offices, financed with some serious hedge-fund money, a stone’s throw from the White House.

    [Emphasis mine]

    • by openfrog ( 897716 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @10:37AM (#36862590)

      Check where this initiative originates from, indeed, and observe how it follows a pattern. This is something that we are seeing more and more, like in UK with the creation of the Lib Dems. The creation of new parties, so-called centrists but mostly taking votes on the left, ensuring the election of conservatives, or at least of a coalition government dominated by the conservatives.

      The usual response to this observation is that the targeted party, here the Democrats, is anywhere but on the left. Well, considering where are the Conservatives in your country, way out to lunch, and considering how they are actively taking hostage and destroying the democratic institutions, I would pay some attention before voting for a third party...

      First things first.

      • This is something that we are seeing more and more, like in UK with the creation of the Lib Dems. The creation of new parties, so-called centrists but mostly taking votes on the left, ensuring the election of conservatives, or at least of a coalition government dominated by the conservatives.

        Ah, fascinating sir. Thank you for that bit of insight.

        • Yeah, because there has never been a case of centrists skewing the vote left (Perot etc). /SARCASM

          The left always acts like shit only happens to them.

      • by Nursie ( 632944 )


        Are you trying to say that the creation of the Liberal Democrat party in the UK was created as an attempt to destroy the labour vote? The Lib Dem party is a grand COnservative conspiracy to split the 'left' and let the 'right' in?

        You might want to start taking the medication again.

        I know a lot of people that vote lib dem because they could not in good conscience vote for the incompetent and useless labour party and it's race to the bottom politics, nor do they think the conservative way is best.


      • er the lib dems are a fairly old political party the liberals predate the labour party
    • In following with the usual Slashdot fact checking reaction to anything political, this website seems to at least dig a little more into the people behind the web site and what they are about []. I smell something fishy about this web site...

  • This is a neat idea, but it would suffer from a lack of geographic unity.

    How exactly will an Internet-based political party handle issues like where to build the school in my neighborhood, how high the bridges should be, or what the penalty should be for selling small quantities of marijuana? Wouldn't joining such a party actually harm my ability to influence the laws that actually affect me on a daily basis?

    Also, why is it every new political party seems to charge right for the presidency? Why not state

    • How is "the penalty for selling small quantities of marijuana", a local issue, give that it should be universally legal, and yet most governments fail on this point?

      • How is "the penalty for selling small quantities of marijuana", a local issue, give that it should be universally legal, and yet most governments fail on this point?

        I live in Oregon, where it is perfectly legal to grow and sell the stuff to medically-licensed individuals in small quantities (the sale price can only be to cover costs, however, and not for profit). There is no penalty for doing so here. This is an example of states doing what they feel best for their population, and is actually protected by the US Constitution.

        Now in New York OTOH, selling small quantities of marijuana would likely get you a ticket to Rikers Island.

        That's why it is currently a 'local' is

      • Because your local cops are the ones who actually arrest people for possessing small quantities of pot - it's usually not the state police or the FBI.
      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by hedwards ( 940851 )

        It shouldn't be legal until it is demonstrated to be safe through rigorous research. Things like that are dangerous until proven safe. Same goes for anything else that you put in your body.

        As for this regardless of ones viewpoints, this is definitely a federal issue as that's where the current law banning it was passed.

        • It shouldn't be legal until it is demonstrated to be safe through rigorous research.

          Wait... what? It is irrefutable that pot is not only less toxic than alcohol, it is effectively impossible to die from it. In fact, it's even less toxic and less addictive than coffee, the American drug of choice. I wouldn't dispute that it can have deleterious mid- to long-term effects, but the only correlation of violent crime related to marijuana seems to be drug cartel behavior (and jackbooted Feds, although I suppose that doesn't qualify as "crime" under the literal definition) which would be reduced,

    • They seem to be solely after the president, so the local stuff doesn't really matter.

      In a lot of places in the US, there aren't Republicans and Democrats running in the most local races anyhow - it's the "North Haverbrook First" and the "North Haverbrook United" parties.

      They probably charge for the presidency because it's a big target but it's just one target. One race, one candidate. A lot easier to manage than enough to take Congress. And if they take the presidency it gives them the legitimacy they need

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      what the penalty should be for selling small quantities of marijuana?

      That is not a local issue but one of essential liberty.

      • Depends - what if he replaced the word "marijuana" with "heroin" ?

        Personally, I believe that the government has no right at all to ban drugs as a chattel item, but I do believe they have the right to intervene and regulate when the use/manufacture of it interferes with public safety (e.g. driving while under influence, creating a demonstrably toxic chemical environment, etc). OTOH, I can at least recognize that the issues are a lot more subtle than calling the sale/consumption of drugs an essential liberty.

        • I can at least recognize that the issues are a lot more subtle than calling the sale/consumption of drugs an essential liberty.

          They sure didn't seem to agree with you in 1933 when the 21st Amendment [] made it into the Constitution. I don't think all drugs should be legal, but one which is demonstrably safer than alcohol (let alone coffee or aspirin) seems like a pretty damn good candidate.

  • by Scareduck ( 177470 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @09:50AM (#36862338) Homepage Journal

    It is really difficult to have enough contempt for this man; Glenn Greenwald's "The Tom Friedman Disease" [] is a good example of the kind of half-digested pap he routinely emits. Instead of looking at this gimmick and calling it a gimmick, he pats himself on the back with this unbearably asinine summary:

    What did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music, what did to pharmacies, Americans Elect plans to do to the two-party duopoly that has dominated American political life — remove the barriers to real competition, flatten the incumbents and let the people in. Watch out.

    So, um, Tom, shall we ask a few slightly important questions, such as, how does this party hope to get candidates on the ballot when they aren't even registered as a party in the many states? Politics are nothing like distributing books or drugs. The fact that he glosses over this entirely is why I hold the man in such low esteem.

    He is a thirteenth-rate thinker who, for reasons that are entirely unclear, has been drastically wrong about a very great deal and yet continues to hold his position on the New York Times' opinion pages.

    • Presumably registering a party is just paperwork? Hardly seems like an insurmountable hurdle. A greater concern should be getting funding and recruiting members, figuring out what this party is going to offer and how to promote those ideas is the real challenge here.
      • It isn't "just paperwork" or the ballots would look like encyclopedias.

        It takes something different from state to state, but typically it's a large number of signatures, or, in those states where political party is tracked for registered voters, possibly a number of real members.

        In California, for example, you need 1% of the people who voted in the last gubernatorial election as members, or 10% as signatures.

        It's an intriguing idea, but their web site leaves out the very important facts of who is behind it,

        • Given that Friedman's article is probably the first major press this has had, I'd say that it just means that the NY Times' readership is a good bit more liberal than you are. I tried to take their quiz, but it wanted me to sign up, so the hell with it.
        • Around here it's just paperwork. We've more or less abolished political parties for all intents and purposes following the Democrats and the GOP throwing out our at large primary system. Ultimately, it's gotten to the point where for state elections the candidates can choose whatever party they like and the voters can continue to vote for whomever they like.

          The main issue is one of funding, but that's less about paperwork and more about getting enough votes to get funding.

  • Centrist? (Score:4, Informative)

    by jo7hs2 ( 884069 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @09:58AM (#36862378) Homepage
    Let me get this straight...a party where mostly liberals are signing up so far is centrist...because they say so? And they are viable...because TFA says so? Anybody else see the problem here?
    • How about, instead of everyone crying about the leaning of the site, you REGISTER and GIVE your opinion. They are very good at setting the questions in a way that reflects left, right AND center. Its percentages reflect those opinions of those who register.

      Right now, this is the best "third option." Do you think you will affect things just by sitting at home and crying like a 3 year old, not doing anything to change what's been going on the past hundred and fifty years, with two sides basically flipping

    • I took their full positions survey - dozens of multiple choice questions. After each question they give the answers thus far (percentage who selected for each multiple choice answer.)

      If I recall correctly (there doesn't seem to be a way to go back and review it) the people who have done the positions survey definitely want government-run health care, are very concerned about the environment, and think abortion should be legal. They don't necessarily want to make every illegal immigrant a citizen, don't like

      • Over 70% of the electorate supported the public option. About 2/3rds are pro-choice. Over 3/4ths support environmental conservation. (I don't the breakdown for immigration, school vouchers or teacher tenure.) But a majority also self-identify as moderate-to-conservative. Go figure.

        • Re:Centrist? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @12:01PM (#36863122) Homepage Journal
          The "public option" polled well because it was ill-defined. Many people think that abortion shouldn't be totally illegal but also don't think that late-second-trimester abortions should be legal. And "environmental conservation" is such a nebulous phrase that people will say "sure, yeah, I like that." IOW, if you choose your phrasing well, you can make it seem like your side's opinions are mom and apple pie, but when it comes down to the actual specifics the electorate may not agree with you. Works for both parties.
        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          Over 3/4ths support environmental conservation. But a majority also self-identify as moderate-to-conservative. Go figure.

          If you ask "Do you want to conserve or destroy the environment?" then very few people will go for "destroy". The question is when it comes to concrete things like are you willing to support measures that'll be a public expense and implicitly lead to higher taxes, lead to higher prices on certain goods, ban environmentally harmful products even though this leads to lower quality or worse products or reduce your own consumption and environmental footprint. Most people will accept some small sacrifices and say

    • The truth appears much worse. Here's an article at Capitol Weekly about this group: []. Of note:

      “They’re very secretive,” said Richard Winger, the long-time publisher of Ballot Access News. “I found out about their petition drive independent of them.”

      Why be secretive? I went to the official website and looked at the "about" page trying to see who the founders were and what political positions they might have taken in

      • Sorry to self-reply but I see I got the group name wrong towards the end there. I thought I checked for that!
    • You forgot to mention that they are supported by Thomas Friedman of the NYT. That's sort of like an "opposition" party being formed in the old Soviet Union and being promoted by a columnist for Pravda.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 24, 2011 @10:08AM (#36862420)

    Full disclosure: I work in the Agora Ciudadana [] Voting System.

    In Spain we have created a "tool" political party which doesn't have and will never have any any ideals called Partido de Internet []. The idea behind it is that its elected representatives will always vote in the representative chambers proportionally to what the people previously voted via Internet, with support for vote delegation so that you don't need to vote in all votings (6600 only in spanish congress per year or about one per hour). This is what is called liquid democracy [] = direct democracy + delegation. Using this together With legislative initiative, the people can execute 100% their legislative power through this liquid democracy setting.

    The vote will be secret and secure, we will use our electronic national identity cards for authentication (hey, they are good for some things =), and the votings will be universally verifiable, we're using elgamal encryption based anonymization mixnets via Verificatum []. The software is not finished yet, mind you. We're in contact with security researchers to make it as secure as possible, the secret of the vote is subject to a set of athorities in charge of the votings, who create a combined ElGamal encryption key for the votations. There's a good overview in a well known spanish security web site, Security by Default [], but unfortunately it's in spanish, maybe you can read it translated with Google Translate.

    I'll tell the people in PDI (Partido de Internet) contact with this other USA party, because AFAIK spanish Internet Party was the first such as a party in the world. It'll be nice if the idea spreads out through all the world. Will it work? I don't know, but we'll never know we don't try.

  • How am I supposed to trust Americans Elect 2012 when they illegally embed fonts onto their website (eg. this page [], this font [])? I'm not trying to be a troll, but if they're not doing their homework for a freaking website (or hiring the right web design firm to do it for them), how do I know they're going to succeed in the political landscape?
  • by SirAstral ( 1349985 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @11:05AM (#36862782)

    This will turn out to be just another problem party.

    Go and read George Washington's farewell address. He predicted the civil war and basically said that everyone should consider that they are Americans first and stop dividing themselves according to geography and party lines.

    How about instead, we create a law that legally prevents the formation of any political party of any kind. Lets make people actually have to learn about who they are voting for instead of just looking for the D or the R on the ballot. At the rate things are going, we will probably choose the better candidate on accident than we ever will intentionally!

    • I (I'm sure a lot of people) have considered this too, but I didn't see a way to outlaw political parties without outlawing the right to assemble, free speech, etc. Do you have any ideas?

    • by sco08y ( 615665 )

      How about instead, we create a law that legally prevents the formation of any political party of any kind.

      You'd have to completely gut the first amendment. You'd also have to outlaw caucuses within Congress.

      And who would be your most enthusiastic supporters, as have been with all political "reforms"? The major parties. Because they'd write the rules, and they'd write them so that business as usual would continue with a new set of hats.

      You want people to think? You're going to have to come up with a message that will make them think. And right now, you can't. Just try it. You will run afoul of the FEC, and they

  • As a political party (for lack of a better word), I think Americans Elect is doomed to failure. I took the survey that was offered upon sign-up and I found the answers to the questions to be very limiting and, in some cases, black and white when few issues are as such. For example, the immigration issue had no answer that really matched my feelings so I had to answer Unsure. Also, when it came to renewable energy, the survey used the fad buzzwords like wind and solar. Wind and solar are, at best, ineffi
  • Our current system will not ever have more than 2 viable parties. We have a winner take all system that will never result in a proportional representation of the views of the populous.

    The best we can do with a third party is weaken an existing one temporarily, or replace it entirely. But everything will still end up with two parties with a huge swath of the population having nobody in congress coming close to sharing their views.

    We would need a fresh constitution based on proportional representation in a

  • The last effort I remember seeing like this was the genesis of the Tea Party and we discovered later it was funded by the Koch family through FreedomWorks (they are no longer aligned).

    I'm looking over their site, not seeing any information on where the money comes from. I like the idea, but I'm vaguely concerned this is an effort to split the Democrats vote.

    We need something like this, even at the risk of aiding the scumbag Republicans.

    • it was funded by the Koch family through FreedomWorks (they are no longer aligned).

      Who's no longer aligned? Tea Party / Kochs? Kochs / Freedomworks? Tea Party / Kochs? What makes you think that any of them aren't still "aligned" (mutually coordinated)?

      • What makes you think that any of them aren't still "aligned" (mutually coordinated)?

        Both organizations have indicated they no longer are affiliated with one another. There were rumors there were divisions over priorities. Still loosely aligned, certainly. Mutually coordinated, likely only to the extent they're getting talking points and messaging from the same core group.

  • I was hoping that Americans Elect would be more for issue-dependent voters like myself. The questions on the survey were still geared towards Blue and Red. I believe that the rug should be pulled out from under the Health Insurance companies, abolishing pre-existing conditions clauses and lifetime caps. I believe in the right to own firearms. I believe the government has no business regulating natural drugs like marijuana. I believe in deporting illegal immigrants (with notable exception of political a
    • our country was founded on legal immigration.

      Our country was founded on the backs of colonial empires who wanted the resources of the new world and weren't afraid to take them from the natives.

  • The questions they ask and the available answers are fucking bullshit.

    When you think about America’s energy needs, which of the following solutions come closest to your opinion?

    • Strong investment in renewable energy like wind and solar
    • More drilling than investment in renewables (mix of both solutions)
    • More investment in renewable than drilling (mix of both solutions)
    • Strong focus on offshore drilling and allowing drilling in federal lands including wildlife reserves
    • Unsure
  • Friedman's already got his "third party": the "Tea Party" that's not a party. It's just the most extreme Republicans - still voting Republican.

    Now he's demanding a new third (not really) party also be Republican.

    Thomas Friedman is the guy who spent the first 5+ years of the Iraq Jr War seeing victory "within the next 6 months", for all those years, until he just stopped begging for it. He's never right about anything except the obvious. Why listen to him?

  • "Internet-based political party can only find jobs as doormen"

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye