“Politics is at its most invigorating when it’s cacophonous and chaotic.”

“Politics is at its most invigorating when it’s cacophonous and chaotic.”


Jonathan Alter in Newsweek writes about the evolutionary confluence of technology and politics, and announces an intriguing new initative to creatively disrupt the 2008 elections. All you need is a modem and a dream.

Bob Schieffer of CBS News made a good point on “The Charlie Rose Show” last week. He said that successful presidents have all skillfully exploited the dominant medium of their times. The Founders were eloquent writers in the age of pamphleteering. Franklin D. Roosevelt restored hope in 1933 by mastering radio. And John F. Kennedy was the first president elected because of his understanding of television.

Will 2008 bring the first Internet president? Last time, Howard Dean and later John Kerry showed that the whole idea of “early money” is now obsolete in presidential politics. The Internet lets candidates who catch fire raise millions in small donations practically overnight. That’s why all the talk of Hillary Clinton’s “war chest” making her the front runner for 2008 is the most hackneyed punditry around.

Alter calls it “open-source politics,” and predicts that it could soon “begin busting up the dumb system we have for selecting presidents,” redesigning the polarized and unrepresentative nominating process from the netroots up:

But there probably won’t be much that’s organized about it. By definition, the Internet strips big shots of their control of the process, which is a good thing. Politics is at its most invigorating when it’s cacophonous and chaotic.

Best of all, it’s already being tried — by the self-described “bunch of old white guys” (and centrists) Hamilton Jordan (who spoke to the National Centrist Meeting in New York last month), Gerald Rafshoon (both helped elect Jimmy Carter), Doug Bailey (did media for Gerald Ford), and Angus King (former Independent governor of Maine). They’re hoping it will catch fire and be taken over by the “collection of idealistic young people” they’ve already got on board.

Their hope: to get even a fraction of the 50 million who voted for the next American Idol to nominate a third-party candidate for president online and use this new army to get him or her on the ballot in all 50 states. [ . . . ]

They’re calling it an “online third party.” Its name is Unity08, and the website launches today.

The Unity08 plan is for an online third-party convention in mid-2008, following the early primaries. Any registered voter could be a delegate; their identities would be confirmed by cross-referencing with voter registration rolls (which would also prevent people from casting more than one ballot). That would likely include a much larger number than the few thousand primary voters who all but nominate the major party candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire. This virtual process will vote on a centrist platform and nominate a bipartisan ticket. The idea is that even if the third-party nominee didn’t win, he would wield serious power in the ’08 election, which will likely be close.

Alter acknowledges that the air will be let out of this initiative if either major party nominates a candidate with centrist appeal, like John McCain or Mark Warner. But perhaps the very existence of such a threat will help to push one or both parties in that direction.

Centrists will want to keep up with this initiative, and possibly join it. Read the article. Check out the Unity08 website. I’m going over there now.

Hat tip: John P. Avlon.

  • http://lullabypit.com Sam Smith

    There’s more here, too: http://www.lullabypit.com/

    I sat in on the group’s conference call today, and it sounds interesting. I’m DEFINITELY down with the idea – have to see about the execution.

    Hopefully I’ll have an item up on the conf call later….

  • DosPeros

    Sam — It is brilliant marketing. Has the Bloom Agency been contracted for Unity08?

  • Joe

    Hey all,
    Come on over to the Independence Party. I am a district chair and it is great to have a different view and not feel that I will be the out cast. I am part Republican on somethings and Democrat on somethings and nothing on the rest.
    We are a very open group meaning that you don’t have to be a card carrying member to join or take part. We want people to express themselves in the tru expression of Democracy. I am in Minnesota. If you are tired of politics as usual and want to make a change. Let’s start doing this now!! It is time we tell Washington we’ve had enough and let’s get this country back on track!! Come on everyone… let’s be Independent!!

  • Guy Hale

    The current inequity in the election process is a systemic problem – by this I mean that the notion of each person’s vote counting the same as any other’s does not apply when the two major parties candidates are selected by 25% of voters in selected states with early primaries. We need a constitutional amendment that abolishes the electoral college and establishes a national primary vote that takes place on the same day in the whole country. I hope the notion of an internet party will wake up the establishment and get these changes done – if not, the internet party may become the major party of the future.

  • Chuck Sullivan

    Politics has always been chaotic. I’m not anymore surprise if there are plenty of fights going on whenever Politics is discussed. Since people have their own opinions regarding the matter. What irks me the most is that due to their nonstop fighting over political matters, normal people are placed in between.

  • Jean Bullington

    @ Chuck. I strongly agree with your comments.What else is new when it comes to politics?

  • Patrice

    Politics is just and ordinary name to the people who heard it . i like this article it more about the politics. regulations.

  • guiller

    Politics is some kind of position that many people want it to have power and do what ever they want.Sad to say most of them are corrupt.