A few weeks ago I wrote about an effort to put a centrist “third party” candidate on the presidential ballot next year, launched by an organization called Americans Elect. The privately funded group plans to stage a wide-open primary on the Internet, to enable voters to choose a ticket drawn from the middle of the political spectrum. Voters can propose anyone they like, but the process is designed for potential centrist candidates such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
That column provoked a torrent of questions from readers. Some asked: Isn’t this just a Republican plot to seduce independents away from President Obama? Others asked: Isn’t this just a Democratic plot to seduce moderates away from the GOP? These are fair questions in an age in which seemingly benign proposals sometimes conceal hidden agendas. So I did some more digging to find out who is behind Americans Elect and what it’s really after.
The answer will disappoint anyone who likes a good conspiracy. It’s just a collection of dissatisfied moderates, both Republicans and Democrats, who want to shake up the political system — and who don’t really know whether their project will help one side or the other next year.
Americans Elect plans to hold its national primary election in the spring. It envisions several rounds of Internet voting, with nominees from the electorate (candidates can nominate themselves too). Anyone can vote; the group hopes to arrive at a final nominee in June.