Americans Elect

Yesterday my partner Albert and I sat down with the people behind Americans Elect. For those that don't know, Americans Elect is an online third party movement. In their words, "Pick A President, Not A Party."

Here's how it works (in short):

They are going to get on the ballot in all 50 states this fall. They've already gotten on the ballot in many of the states.

They have created a website where anyone can choose to run and where candidates can be drafted. Here's the current roster of candidates.

Over the summer, they will conduct an online convention and a single candidate will be nominated to run on their ticket.

That's basically it.

There are a number of cool things about the online service they have built. You answer questions about issues and they build an online profile of you. Then they match you with candidates that share your views. If you want to try that out, go sign up and you will be taken through the questions in a few minutes. It's fun to see where you end up even if you have no intention of voting for a third party candidate.

I'm sure a lot of people think this is a nutty idea. But I don't. So many people bitch and moan that they don't like our current system. Yet the do nothing to change it. The people behind Americans Elect have done something about it. That's progress.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    That’s a great example of technology used to potentially disrupt something fundamentally. I’ve always thought the primaries-based US election process is too heavy of a burden & it’s too costly and taxing on the candidates. It tests their campaign abilities more than their presidential ones. One issue about Americans Elect is that even if a President was elected via this method she/he wouldn’t necessarily have the support of the Senate or House to make things happen. A natural follow-on might be Senate Elect & House Elect. Is this the beginning of the end of the 2-party system & decision-making gridlock & consensus driven mediocrity?

    1. Testing


  2. Fernando Gutierrez

    Yes, the idea is nuts… as most great ideas were before being widely adopted. With the current state of technology it’s crazy that electoral systems do not change accordingly.People love to give opinions about things that matter to them, so an internet based system would increase citizen participation an satisfaction a lot. Electing candidates is great, but this should be just a first step.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Even if it just gets people thinking…increases awareness…reduces apathy…even a little…it is a step forward. The idea being nuts is what makes me pay attention.  At least at first.  Then it will have to play itself out in a way that makes sense.Disclosure:  I haven’t looked at the site yet.  

      1. LE

        Donna, as someone in HR  how do you feel about the ability of the “people” to determine who is qualified for a particular job? Do you feel they even know the right things to judge or look for? 

        1. Donna Brewington White

          I will excuse you for calling me HR. ;)It takes skill and understanding to determine whether someone is qualified for a job.  But it starts with first of all determining what qualifications are necessary in the first place.  It doesn’t do any good to hit a target if it is the wrong target.  In most hiring situations, I don’t think that the “people” can make the determination about whether someone is qualified for a job unless they understand the job and have the proper skills to assess a person’s qualifications and fit.  They may be able to give input to the person’s fit in particular categories — such as “culture fit” or “technical know-how”, but not overall. Probably the best answer to your question is — it depends on who the “people” are. While they may muddle through to some extent, if you have the right combination of people, they will probably get at the right fit for the job by pooling their understanding and experience. The problem is that often people don’t know what they don’t know and sometimes don’t know what they DO know.It is not so much about having the answer as it is about asking the right questions.  That is generally where the problem lies.

    2. Michael Elling

      The political/electoral system needs to change at the edge.  If the push comes from the core, great!  There is a little problem in this country called States vs Federal rights, though.  Also, any technological solution would have to be pervasive and include not only internet, but wireless-text (non-browser) and voice (800 dial-ins) to appeal to and be utilized by 100% of the population. Right now these approaches are web-centric, which is not pervasive.  But a good and noble start none-the-less.

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        Regarding solutions not being only internet I agree partially. It’s true that not everyone uses it, but the same can be said of paper votes in a box. Someone who lives in a remote place and can’t drive is very limited with the current situation. If people can participate online and also can go to the place where they would vote nowadays to use a computer there (with someone helping if necessary) you would only increase reach. Anyway, dial-ins and text would also be a huge improvement.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  3. John Revay

    I saw a tweet by Albert last night > I clicked through and got to the Americans Elect site.  The tweet pointed to Mike Bloomberg page.This could be a great way to take the $$$ out of politics.Always hoping there could be a way we use the internet to help select, vote and elect our government leaders.

  4. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    I think Americans Elect is a stupid idea and their website only reinforced my view. All the questions they asked were asinine and mostly useless in determining my personal political preferences. Would not recommend.

    1. William Mougayar

      But aside from the website & questionnaire needing some work, the idea itself has merit, no?

      1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

        I strongly disagree with that too, but that’s another topic altogether.

        1. William Mougayar

          But isn’t “that” the topic of this post?

      2. perfy

        What good is an idea if you can’t execute?

        1. TheVent

          OMG, such defeatism!!!  Everybody dam this is America last i checked where I live..  1st off I don’t care who started wut o.k., the American Elect people just as any group, thinker, humanoid, citizen,  get the point, uh?  R we or R we not in a free country?  The purpose of having a IDEA would B to pursue & attempt to fulfill one’s desire!  Da!  If excuting or not achieving one’s goal is not accomplished weel,  “Back to the drawing board”  as they say. Geez alot of people on here just need to stop, to each their own  ALREADY!   -Theresa

    2. fredwilson

      did you go through all fifty questions?

      1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

        I’d say I went through half of them.The problem is that the answers are too vague and/or the questions leading. “Do you think the government should have less or more a role in healthcare?” for example, to me, is a pointless question. I want the government to have a *different* role in healthcare.

        1. Brandon Marker

          Different is such a *political* answer. You are beating around the bush… just like every big-name candidate. Perhaps a 3rd party candidate just isn’t for you. For the record: I am not going to be voting 3rd party.

          1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

            Political questions should have political anwsers!

          2. Brandon Marker

            hahaha touché 

          3. Modernist

            It’s not so much that his answer was political, as it was intellectual.  The question itself was highly anti-intellectual.  It was in fact a “complex question” asserting that the government could not have a different role in health care.  So rather than support the assumption inherent within the question, Mr. Gobry wanted to give a more thorough answer.

          4. Brandon Marker

            There isn’t a computer in the world that could process human political thought. I don’t think you are getting at anything here, sorry.

          5. Franklyn Jones

            for the record, Americans Elect is NOT a political party but a ballot access and technology organization who will allow the candidate, despite their political affiliation to run on the AE ballot.

        2. Franklyn Jones

          There’s over 240 questions I counted last time I visited the AE site

    3. ShanaC

      So you’re French – how does the French system differ in ways that you would recommend we should change towards?

      1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

        I don’t think the US system should imitate the French system. At all.

        1. ShanaC

          what do you think we should do instead?  I mean the real issue is that we’re running out of options to elect sanity…

          1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

            I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with the US political process.

          2. ShanaC

            and this is how I know you are french :p

    4. kidmercury

      lol, i appreciate the bluntness of this response!

      1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

        Thanks! I try.

    5. Franklyn Jones

      So can you offer an alternative site trying to get some other people on the ballot? I’ll admit the questions are not perfect but they are submitted by us, the american people who have gone to and submitted questions. The questions are voted on and then if they get enough votes, they are pushed up the chain to you being able to answer the questions. It’s not a process that isn’t transparent. It just requires some reading and understanding the website and what American Elect is trying to do. I’m sorry that there isn’t a more glitzy candy coated web site, however they are not operating with a lot of money. Mitt Romney can spend the same amount of total working capital that AE has just in one state…not counting his political packs. If you consider the costs of AE getting on the ballot in 50 states then maybe you should have a better idea about the reality of what the group is dealing with.

      1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

        Lack of money is not an excuse for thoughtlessness. The site is plenty candy-coated as it is—that’s not my beef. And no, I can’t offer an alternative site. That’s not my problem.

  5. KevinMHughes

    The idea does sound crazy; on the other hand, no one can bitch and/or moan with this.  I believe it to be a solid idea and an idea that could change the landscape of the election.

  6. John Revay

    Went through the wizard,  Started flipping through site – got to the page about donating/supporting.They had different funding levels – all branded w/ the presidents faces.The amount for $100,000 was listed as “Give a Wilson”

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      They missed the “Woodrow” :-).

      1. Franklyn Jones

        it’s just the picture on the former 100,000 dollar bill. nothing more.

    2. fredwilson

      woodrow i suppose

      1. John Revay

        I don’t suppose any relation – re: good old Uncle Woodrow#FredWilson2012 🙂

  7. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Is there a possibility that changing the president/party can change the system? It never works that way in my country … whom so ever comes to power just are influenced by the Foreign policy and internal gimmicks and politics.  What they make sure is … they stay in power for the term.

  8. Conrad Ross Schulman

    Very innovative idea. This kind of idea may seem drastic at first, but it’s exactly what the American people need. #realchangeThe user interface is professionally done & that impresses me more than anything. 

  9. jared14

    This is a great idea. We need new leaders who aren’t owned by special interests. But who is funding this?

      1. jared14

        Thanks, I’d asked the question because I’d read that they are not completely transparent about their donors, which that link confirms. I’d also read that they reserve the right to veto any candidate elected through their primary. Those two factors are disappointing. But, this is still a great thing.

        1. Franklyn Jones

          Yes, if Charles Manson were to win the primary, they would not allow him. In addition the person that wins the primary has to agree to choose a running mate from the opposite political ideology. If they do not then they don’t get in either. And just for your information, an elector of your state is NOT required to vote on who the state has chosen either. What do ya think of them apples…

          1. TheVent

            Apples good.

  10. BillSeitz

    Good idea, but their survey tool is totally horrible. They should partner with VoteSmart. 

  11. falicon

    Awesome…if we can get Fred drafted as a candidate…even just a VP candidate…then I’m totally going to push this service!  Only prob. is that AVC might have to change to AVP 😉

    1. Michael Elling

      Hear hear!  I second that and said as much back on the 15% tax post.

      1. Shawn Cohen

        If you missed the 15% post, here’s the link:…

    2. fredwilson

      i’ve written my opinions here every day for almost a decade#unelectable

      1. falicon

        That’s exactly the type of thing that seems backwards to me…If anything, publicly expressing your opinion for years should be a REQUIREMENT for running for office!

      2. NicolasVDB

        Fred, I asked this question on your previous political post: can you tell me why you put Mike Bloomberg in the same category as you – “unelectable” for President?

        1. fredwilson

          i’d like to be proven wrong. but i think he has done the calculus and has determined he can’t do it.

          1. Prokofy

             Too old, need someone new, you should be working on this instead of president because you’ll lose on the president.

    3. ShanaC

      More of our politicians should blog.  It would get us some clarity about what happens in the potomac hype machine….

    4. Testing


      1. falicon


  12. panterosa,

    Online dating for president. Love the disruptiveness of it!

    1. John Revay

      I was thinking some think like American Idol – as a frame of reference….when you think about all of the people who try out..and then we get down to say the top 50 people and people get voted off.What is it 40M votes get casted – granted there are issues w/ people calling in  or txt…Still has to be a better more modern way

  13. aanwar

    Mindblowingly simple.

  14. Michael Elling

    At first I thought, “what a noble pursuit.”  Then I started filling out the profile and thought, “hmmh, 2 sides to every issue, questions/profile appear left leaning, not differentiating between cause and effect, etc….”  Maybe instead of trying to ask subjectively developed questions about broader issues, their questions should go to the heart of what’s wrong today with the political process, namely lobbying and citizens united, pork-barrel politics, gerrymandering, and lack of legislative (fiscal) accountability.   How we elect the guy at the top has nothing to do with the aforementioned.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s interesting. the CEO of this project is a Republican

      1. Michael Elling

        Yes, saw that.  The questions tended towards current, sensationalist, media-driven issues; not the core issues of what’s wrong with the political system.  As the media is broadly labeled leftist, I used the term.  On a related front, former US Rep Michael McMahon of (D-Staten Island; voted most centrist politician based on his record) has some very interesting views on the dangers of partisanship and the electioneering process and the inability of Washington to deal with really important issues.  From the day he entered office he spent 30-40% of his time raising money for the next election instead of doing what he was elected to do.  AE and other grassroots sites should focus the electorate on politicians who want to change the political system.  It’s the money game (Moneyball without payroll limits) that’s hurting all of us.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. kidmercury

            mandatory voting leads to rich people buying poor people’s votes. 

          2. Michael Elling

            Broadband could be free (or nearly free) by natural market forces.  800, VPN and calling card accounted for more than 70% of LD volumes before Bell Dinosaurs (with help from Feds in 96 Act) shut down competition.  Free internet is misnomer; internet layers 1-2 borne of Bell Dino reactions to competitive WAN 1986-89 expanding LATAs enabling unlimited dial-up ISPs.  Fast forward 20+ years and competition is extinct.  Bandwidth prices rising, not falling, relative to true cost.  Price arbitrage between commodity and retail biggest since 1984.  I’m against govt led “free” anything.  We have that with universal service fund (USF), which is one of biggest taxes and scams out there.  Markets can develop innovative solutions which match communications event with commercial transaction so that 80-90% of edge is centrally procured. My concern is that lack of low-cost broadband (wired or wireless) retards upper layer growth as it did in late 1990s, exacerbating first bubble collapse. Real problems will begin to show with popularity of LTE devices, particularly iPhone5. Can anyone spell Light^2?

        2. jason wright

          The media as ‘leftist’ is classic spin by…the media. 

    2. perfy

      Agreed.  The site looks nothing like what I expected based on Fred’s post.  The top tracked candidates on the site are Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama.

      1. John Revay

        YUP – kind of where I ended up re: top tracked candidates.Follow by Steve Cobert and Jon Stewart

    3. Modernist

      I agree that the questions are biased, but I think they’re libertarian-leaning.As I began answering the questions, it felt suspicious, reminiscent of….  Sure enough, when I completed the core questions, it was suggested that I vote for Ron Paul.  Sorry, I’d rather vote for Obama, or any other pragmatic socialist.That said, too often political issues are framed in absolutes, so it is progress that they make us articulate our priorities.

    4. Franklyn Jones

      the questions were formulated by the people involved in the process. If you don’t like the questions or have better ones PLEASE participate with We need your input.

  15. jason wright

    “Americans Elect is a nonprofit that is not affiliated with any candidate or candidate committee. © 2012 Americans Elect”.This appears at the foot of the website home page, but is so ‘obscure’. Why be so reticent on this important point?

    1. Franklyn Jones

      thanks Jason for helping to spread the word. That is the point. Americans Elect is NOT a political party.

  16. Elia Freedman

    I have been a delegate since they started having delegates and tried to get involved in this process early. I applaud them for trying something new.I think the challenge is that politics is really about money and I am not certain that this deals with that problem. Whomever gets nominated, assuming they even accept the nomination, would still need to run for president and that takes big bucks. Those donors are putting money in to gain influence and then we have the same problems all over again, just with a third-party.Given that, I would love to see an independent platform and party. I wonder if this would be best served in connection with Lessig’s work on a constitutional convention.

    1. ShanaC

      what’s it like to be a delegate?

      1. Elia Freedman

        Everyone is a delegate if you sign up and walk through their steps. I was able to pick a few people I like for candidates, although the ones I like all said they weren’t running. Not much so far as they haven’t gone through the “pick the candidate” process yet.

        1. ShanaC

          hmm, thanks

  17. sigmaalgebra

    To take their ‘matching’ algorithm seriously, one should know more about how it works.Quite broadly, an ‘algorithm’ to do something, e.g., match, recommend, detect, should not be taken very seriously without a lot more information about how it works. Bluntly just that there is an ‘algorithm’ should be taken as meaning next to nothing. Yes, I will concede that discussing the properties of such algorithms can involve prerequisites not commonly covered in K-12!I’m all for much more and especially much better content, especially on-line, on national problems and ideas for doing better. Indeed my view is that, quite literally and seriously, the worst problem facing the US and civilization is the news media that nearly totally fails to provide the content — information and ideas — citizens need to be well informed. E.g., I believe that if we had been informed about what Fannie and Freddie were doing and why, then there is no chance we would have had the housing bubble or The Great Recession. I hope that a lot of the content citizens need actually is on the Internet now and that more is coming along (my project is in part on better means to find such content).But, although I’m concerned about national issues, I can’t be for third parties because, first, they essentially can’t win the White House; second, if one did win, then, with nearly no one in their party in Congress or the rest of the country, they couldn’t govern effectively; third, they can throw elections so that, say, a liberal third party candidate could make a liberal Democrat candidate lose; and, fourth, currently I see no need for a third party.For this last, need, sure, I’m not thrilled by the choices for President this year, but it also seems to me that what we have now is from quite a list of Republican candidates in this election and quite a list of Republican and Democrat candidates from the last election. We’ve had a lot of candidates to pick from. Apparently there has been plenty of opportunity for good candidates to run, get on the stage in the debates, raise some funds, and make an effort. So, there’s been plenty of opportunity; it’s just that we’d like better candidates.But I believe that the core problem of better government actually isn’t better candidates but much better voters: At times we’ve had some bright candidates who can understand the information and ideas, but such a candidate has a debilitating problem: If they say very much about how to solve the problems, then parts of the media, due to bias, whatever, or their efforts to get eyeballs by grabbing people by the heart, the gut, or below the belt, deliberately, outrageously distort what was said; the goal of the media may be to create drama, controversy, and headlines, but the result is destruction of any real meaning in the content. Then the voters put up with this deliberate nonsense, this pouring sewage into the soup, turning any excellent Bisque de Homard into something toxic.Sure, I’d like to know more about the currently pressing issues in the economy, finance, energy, technology, foreign affairs, and more, but, e.g., what I saw on the news yesterday was a lot — as I surfed the channels, one after another, trying to get away from it — about some pop singer who died of drug abuse.I’m sorry someone died of drug abuse, but that sad situation is old and not really important news information for me. Apparently the media expected me to identify with that singer, but I just will NOT for even a pico second do that: So, yesterday some news programs got switched off. She was a pop singer and died of drug abuse; done; maybe once a year, with quite low priority, we could have some summary, descriptive statistics about such cases (which we don’t get), but the individual cases do not concern me; I will not, Not, NOT watch that stuff.So, if the voters are paying attention to some drug abuser instead of the economy, finance, energy, technology, foreign affairs, and more, then no wonder our country is messed up, and it’s from tough down to impossible for a single candidate for President to do much to solve the problems.We can guess that the voters just care more about some drug abusing singer than 25 million US citizens wanting to work but unable to find jobs, a shrinking GDP, oil at over $100 a barrel, a messed up US financial system, threats of nuclear war, little things like those.I used to yell and scream at the deliberately brain-dead content of the news media, but the screaming just gave me a sore throat, and the media didn’t improve. The screaming was just a waste of time.When people click away from stories about the failings of celebrities and the media notices, just quits pushing such nonsense, and starts providing important content, then I will pay attention.We can see in movies from the 1930s that the news media was a disaster then. Not much has changed. The old remark holds: “The news is always the same; only the names change.”. The Internet can be the source of major progress (and was for the PIPA/SOPA issue) but has a long way to go.E.g., for that $15 trillion US national debt, where is that held? For those mortgages underwater,, where are those held and with what funds? Little questions like that.Sometimes, as here, I voice my concerns, but my real solution is just to make by business successful and to give low priority to the suffering of people who want to pay attention nonsense instead of crucial issues.

    1. ShanaC

      There was a feature in the NYTimes recently about how most conservative voters are now coming from areas where they use more government services, so I don’t buy that voters aren’t educated, except in the ways washington prevents them from being educated. 

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Some voters do get well educated on some issues, and a good example was the tech community and PIPA/SOPA. Here the Internet was a great help.Where people are sucking high butter fat from under the bra of the Federal Government? Here’s a list:Fromhttp://www.businessinsider….is”Where The One Percent Live: The 15 Richest Counties In America”by median income according to the 2010 Census:(1) The richest county in America: Loudoun County, Va.Median household income: $119,540(2) 2nd richest: Fairfax County, Va.Median household income: $103,010(3) 3rd richest: Howard County, Md.Median household income: $101,771(4) 4th richest: Hunterdon County, N.J.Median household income: $97,874(5) 5th richest: Arlington County, Va.Median household income: $94,986(6) 6h richest: Douglas County, Colo.Median household income: $94,909(7) 7th richest: Stafford County, Va.Median household income: $94,317(8) 8th richest: Somerset County, N.J.Median household income: $94,270(9) 9th richest: Prince William County, Va.Median household income: $92,655(10) 10th richest: Morris County, N.J.Median household income: $91,469(11) 11th richest: Nassau County, N.Y.Median household income: $91,104(12) 12th richest: Montgomery County, Md.Median household income: $89,155(13) 13th richest: Calvert County, Md.Median household income: $88,862(14) 14th richest: St. Mary’s County, Md.Median household income: $88,444(15) 15th richest: Charles County, Md.Median household income: $87,007See a lot of MD and VA there? Wonder where their money comes from? See NY or CA in there?But I mentioned the messes of our economy, financial system, energy supply, and GDP growth rate, and for those I put the blame directly on the backs of uninterested, uninformed, misinformed voters. These messes are just huge (are reducing US power and security in the world; are likely significantly increasing substance abuse, clinical depression, miscarriages, violent crime, divorce rates, fatal diseases, and suicides and squandering financial, social, and psychological capital); the causes were mostly some really dumb government; and no one both interested and informed would have acted so stupidly. So, we have not had informed citizens guiding their government.E.g., the NYT, in both their news and opinion pieces, has long been working as hard as they could to scare people about ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’, to get a stream of continuing stories easy to write that gets eyeballs, and to pass out total nonsense.E.g., their Tom Friedman tried to explain the greenhouse effect by saying that CO2 absorbs sunlight. No it doesn’t: If it did, then CO2 would be visible but it’s not. Instead CO2 absorbs infrared in three narrow bands, one for each of bending, stretching, and twisting of the molecule, and the infrared comes from Planck black body radiation from the surface of the earth warmed by light from the sun. Sorry, Tom: I guess that day in freshman physics you skipped class to read poetry.E.g., from the graph on page 2 of the 2006 NAS studySurface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Yearsavailable at…in 2006 as far as we could tell (1) the temperature of the earth was exactly the same as in the year 1000 just before we entered the Little Ice Age (with two years of crop failures just before the French Revolution, Washington crossing the Delaware with ice in the river, Napoleon’s army freezing on their way back from Moscow) and (2) the increase in temperature from 1906 to 2006 was just like that from year 900 to year 1000. Moreover, since 2006 we’ve had essentially no increase in temperature. Maybe Tom Friedman, the NYT, Saint Laureate Al Guru, and his devoted acolyte Sister Laurie want to measure temperature by looking at pictures of polar bears, but I prefer to use degrees F, C, or K.But, with such nonsense, during the last presidential campaign, then Senator Obama in his interview with the San Francisco Chronicle on 1/17/2008, with parts on and/or off on YouTube (from which once I typed in a full transcript) said that he was for ratcheting up the restrictions on CO2 emissions by coal fired electric generating plants so high that, with carbon cap and trade, they would be “bankrupt” and that electric rates would “skyrocket”. Since then his DoE made loan guarantees, in line for big losses, to various safe, clean, pure, pristine, sustainable, renewable projects, e.g., Solyndra, that also happen to help Democrat campaign fund raising. Recently he refused to sign the bill permitting the Keystone pipeline that would have brought crude oil from Canadian tar sands (there may be more oil in the Canadian tar sands than in Saudi Arabia, and the last number I heard was that Canada can put that oil into a pipeline for $10 a barrel) to Houston for refining, and since then Canada signed an agreement to sell oil to China. Also have the EPA claim that CO2 is a “pollutant” so that they can regulate it.So, scare people with nonsense as bad as the Mayans who killed people to pour their blood on a rock to keep the sun moving across the sky; build a collection of voters just paranoid about hurting the 100% all-natural, pure, pristine, precious, delicate earth; let a politician make really dumb decisions to please those voters; and shoot the US energy supply, energy security, national security, economy, economic growth, and jobs in the gut. Dumb. Really dumb. Beyond all reason dumb. Suicidally dumb.I blame the voters for not insisting, in ways both Rupert Murdock and Art Sulzberger along with the heads of LAT, WaPo, Time-Warner, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and PBS would quickly see, that the content get up to at least the level of term papers in high school science and civics. As the PIPA/SOPA affair showed, when enough voters are informed, Congress hears the message clearly; with good information to the voters, this dumb stuff wouldn’t happen. So I continue to blame the voters.

        1. Richard

          Great numbers are va, dc and md wealth.

        2. ShanaC

          FYI, I know a climate scientist – the issue isn’t the actual temperatures per say, its the rate of change. Even with the little ice age, the rate of change was slower.

    2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

       “The news is always the same; only the names change.”.Very funny you are. “World  is the same only the Alpha and Zigma (sigma) changes”.

  18. Harry DeMott

    Teh $ are going to remain in politics – the question is where are they spent and how does that spending get us a more involved electorate – rather than one that sits at home most Election Day’s.This might work well.When you watch the coverage every night of the Republican primary, you realize what debasement these candidates have to go through to get elected. It’s not a question of who will be the best president, or even who is the best campaigner – it’s really about who is willing to suffer the greatest humiliation and still keep on smiling.Imagine if corporate leaders were elected this way!This may not be the ultimate iteration, but it is a step in the right direction.American’s elect should check out, a service founded by a few friends of mine which seeks to use technology to activate a voter base. also a cool service.

  19. Scott Barnett

    This is an interesting idea, but it has a way to go.  I thought the questions were much too high level, so I wouldn’t necessarily agree that the “candidates” necessarily share my thoughts.  This was confirmed when I finished the questionnaire and it brought up some pretty well known (and diverse!) candidates that “matched” my profile – Barack Obama, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, and Bernie Sanders!  Quite a diverse group to “match” my own interests…If there is a way to extend this to take the “cost” out of politics so everybody gets a fair shake, that would be awesome.  These super PAC’s are ridiculous and we aren’t being governed by the people’s choice, but rather the funder’s choice.

  20. jason wright

    I don’t want to judge a book by its cover, but Americans Elect’s Chief Legal Counsel reads like a quintessential political insider to me.I hope this isn’t another Mullen Company.  

  21. Richard

    Why not start at the state level/local level with this concept? Test…iterate..implement.

    1. LE

      There may be a different agenda or end game. Similar (in concept) to a candidate that runs knowing he won’t win in order to gain some future say, power, or decision over issues that are important to them by delivering their votes.I’m not saying this is happening. I am just offering a response to your question which makes a good point.

      1. Richard

        VC <- respectable way to make money..DC <- cowardly way to make money.

    2. Rise of the Center

      From what I understand, once they get on the ballot, the plan is to expand the platform so people can run on their ticket for senate and congress in 2014. They don’t have the time to build the system out to accomodate so many races in this cycle. So, in a way, you could see this as a sort of beta testing for bigger and better things on down the line.

  22. Mike Kijewski

    Some classmates of mine at Wharton recently launched . They’re focusing on algorithms that match voters to candidates that agree with them on key issues. It’s an interesting idea to actually draft and support a third-party candidate using a similar system though. 

      1. Mike Kijewski

        Really glad to hear that. Keya is a badass.

  23. ErikSchwartz

    I have a friend who did some work for them and has a different perspective. I like the idea, the execution seems sketchier.

  24. Robert Thuston

    May not change the system, but with support, sends a signal to the market saying change is possible.

  25. RV

    This is an awesome concept!  I’m definitely going to sign up and dig in. 

  26. ShanaC

    I’m less concerned about the nuttiness. We’ve had three parties at times in the US at times, with usually one of the two big parties absorbing the platform of the smallest one, causing changes in US policy.I’m more concerned about the fact that despite us lurching from crisis to crisix, both parties seem to be sceloric in such a way that we need new parties.I’m also concerned that because of this lack of thought going into the Washington hype machine, I don’t find myself easily fitting into the party system.  It used to be people like me would pin political buttons on backpacks, but no more….

  27. Jan Schultink

    This both a great and a scary development at the same time. Scary, because a platform like this could propel a populist candidate that attracts “I will vote #3 because I do not like #2 and #1” votes. In Europe, you see populist parties becoming very popular now. I do not know which Greek philosopher said that democracy is best left to the elite… In short, it would be great if this platform could create a credible alternative, not a protest-vote-magnet.

    1. JamesHRH

      Jan, Michael Lewis give voice to that sentiment in Boomerang. He basically says that Arnold Schwarzenegger put smart proposals in front of the electorate and they got voted down because, unless it is a crisis, voters want something for nothing.

      1. Tom Labus

        California is our Greece. Greece created two “new months” in order to pay bureaucrats additional salary.

        1. JamesHRH

          Not too many people come off looking good, except for the fire chief of the bankrupt town in NoCal.German, Icelandic, Irish, Greek, Cali – all savaged.

  28. Digikist

    This is genius on so many levels.  Thanks for spreading the word Fred.

  29. Luke Chamberlin

    Strange to me that after their tagline “pick a president, not a party” they would prominently feature Republican or Democrat watermarks over the faces of every candidate on their site.

  30. Guest

    American’s Elect is a secretive “alternative” associated with the know “astro-turfers” at Arno Political Consultants (“Kellen Arno is the National Field Director for Americans Elect[50] and his father, Michael Arno, is Ballot Access Advisor for Americans Elect.[44] Michael Arno is the president of the controversial Arno Political Consultants with his son, Kellen, assisting as vice president.[51][52]”).Best guess is they are trying to sneak in a Democratic spoiler candidate ala Nader.”The group has been criticized for failure to fully disclose its funding.[47] Elliot Ackerman said that it is up to donors to determine whether they want to be identified and defended the group saying, “I think that’s an unfortunate testament to the status of our political landscape that people feel uncomfortable about disclosing the fact that they’re supporting an open nominating process.” However, Fred Wertheimer, known for his work on campaign finance reform, said, “They must be trying to hide from the public who their donors are. This is a very strange way for a group to act that is complaining about the state of American politics”.[6]”Due diligence please.

    1. Anon

      I worked for them. The assertion that Americans Elect is AstroTurf is eerily accurate. Think twice before endorsing them or giving them money.

      1. LE

        It’s interesting that your comment and the comment that you replied to are both “anonymous” and against this idea.Why not identify yourself?

        1. ShanaC

          welcome to politics and government,  I have yet to see people from there online on the record.

      2. Drew

         Fascinating claim Mr. Anon…My name is Drew Hazouri and I work as one of the Regional Field Directors for Americans Elect. Would you mind disclosing your identity so we can verify your claim?Thanks.

        1. Douglas Crets

          That’s really “liberty” and “democracy” of you, Drew. You don’t need to unmask someone in order to verify a claim. Wow.  As any journalist can tell you, there are multiple reasons why someone would want to be anonymous. There may be only one reason, in this case, why you would want them not to be. 

          1. Rise of the Center

            That’s just it, you can’t verify this claim. I’ve interviewed and talked to staff and volunteers from lowly brand new supporter, all the way up to Eliot Ackerman himself, and there is zero evidence of astroturfing. This is just your standard conspiracy theory BS.Same lame argument can be said about the donors. They don’t have to show their donors to prove they’re about what they say they’re about. They need to go out and do it. So far they have. They’d be much easier to trust if they didn’t hide donors, but what they do is ultimately how they’ll be judged.

          2. Douglas Crets

            You have a point, well taken. But if it’s utter BS, then direct the audience to the ascertained quality information that disputes. No need to unmask. It’s tricky territory. It makes the organization look bad. 

          3. Rise of the Center

            I can’t seem to make a nested reply to the comment below this… but this is a response to Douglas Crets’ comment directly below this one.Hiding the funders DOES look bad.You can’t verify a negative. As I said, I’ve talked to volunteers and staff, bottom to the top. I read just about everything AE puts out, I’ve been to a training they put on, etc…Astroturfing means you’re presenting yourself as grassroots, while being otherwise. As I said in a comment above, they’ve never hidden the fact that the signature gatherers are paid, or that they don’t have paid staff in various parts of the country. There is both a grassroots side of the equation, with state and local AE chapters run by volunteers, as well as staff run side of the coin.Someone calling them astroturf either doesn’t know what that means, hasn’t actually looked at them closely, or is just trying to get a cheap dig in.

          4. Drew

            I agree that thereare a wide variety of reasons why someone might want to remain anonymous, butit’s a weak stance when making an argument as an “inside source.” Mr. Anon hasgiven a blanket statement and weighed his/her credibility solely on a claim ofbeing employed by the organization.  Mypoint here, is simply this: broad statements by anonymous people on theinternet are not credible.I don’t care who the person is, ex-employee or not. I am merely challenging their credibility as a source

          5. LE

            “You don’t need to unmask someone in order to verify a claim. “I agree with that.In the case of my comment (which you weren’t replying to) the thing that raised red flags as to the authenticity of either one or both of the comments was specifically the following:1) “Best guess is they are trying to sneak in a Democratic spoiler candidate ala Nader.”2) “Due diligence please.”3) “I worked for them.”4) “Think twice before endorsing them or giving them money.”None of these statement alone mean much but together in two close and anonymous comments raised a red flag (and note I’ve made some negative comments on the idea here..)

      3. Rise of the Center

        Astroturf would imply that they’re pretending that they’re an entirely grassroots organization, when they’ve been very clear that they’re paying signiture gatherers and have paid organizers around the country.I don’t like the hiding of the donors either. Just like so many other organizations, and it blunts the level of support I give them, but so far they’ve done exactly what they said they would do. Proof is in the pudding.

      4. fredwilson

        nothing like politics to bring out the knifes. it’s really amazing.

      5. Alexpatico

         Interesting that the detractors tend to be “nameless” posters….hmmmm…

      6. Franklyn Jones

        Hey Anon, could you be a little more specific with the term “I worked for them.” Americans Elect has many volunteers that “work” for nothing and believe in the cause.

      7. ShanaC

        well, what did you see.

    2. Jeffrey Proud

      This is not the point. The reason for Americans Elect is the general lack of confidence in the Republicans and Democrats. This is a chance for Americans to make their own choice.

    3. artberkowitz

      My best guess is that “Guest” is an operative of the Democratic Party trying to discredit an organization that threatens his/her monopoly and pocketbook.Objection #1 – Guilt by Association – Why would I care if someone who agrees that the present political system is unresponsive happens to be someone I don’t agree with on other issues. Do you agree with Louis Farrakhan?Objection #2 – Spoiler candidate – If AE is trying to sneak in a Democratic spoiler candidate like Ralph Nader, why are the Republicans objecting just as loudly as the Democrats and why are the leading candidates mostly Republicans?Objection #3 – Secrecy – This is the biggest joke of all. Both the Republican and Democratic campaigns are primarily funded through Super Pacs where the donors do not have to be disclosed. So why is Americans Elect the villian when they are not even promoting or supporting any individual candidate – just a system where you and I can nominate who we want – not the party bosses?The purpose behind your post is clearly transparent – you want to protect your priviliged position.

    4. fredwilson

      i’ve encouraged them to do an AMA at Reddit to address all of these questions

    5. Alexpatico

       Diligence is definitely due, no doubt.  But since the top candidate so far (in terms of number of supporters among the AE group) seems to be Ron Paul, it’s a little difficult to see how the whole scheme is designed to be a spoiler for the Democratic side of the equation.  The questions each candidate must answer are being developed by the delegates (I have submitted a couple myself and I’m watching how they fare as other delegates judge them “up” or “down”).  The candidate is required to “cross the aisle” in picking his running mate, if he wants to be the AE nominee.  Yes, let’s keep a close eye on all the details (where the devil is found, as they say), but so far, I’m not getting a big “conspiracy to defeat X” impression…

      1. dwinkle

         The only hope the Democrats have in the next election is a right wing interception by a third party Ron Paul type. If any candidate can skim 3% of the Republicans off the tracks it will be a win for the Democrats.

    6. Franklyn Jones

      Are you kidding me? Nader? I’d go for the Ron Paul angle as he isn’t going to make the Republican cut, however the group is run by it’s members. You can be a member if you want. Just go to and judge for yourselves.

  31. Brad

    The problem is not how they are elected it is the way they are bought after elections. I believe that with all the technology we have, the people should determine where their money goes. If I want it to go to paying down the debt and not NPR, then that is where it should go.http://peoplestaxplan.blogs

    1. Tom Labus

      Counter weight to special interests would be interesting.

      1. Brad

        I would like to know why we couldn’t just allocate our money the way we want. The special interests would then pay more attention to us and not the politicians.Imagine the amount of waste that would be ended.

        1. Rise of the Center

          You’re really in la la land if you think the American people understand how government works enough to appropriately allocate funds. I have a degree in political science, I write about politics for a living, and have been deeply involved for years… and I’m not so egotistical to think that even I would be very good at doing that.This isn’t a knock on the American people, it’s basic logic. Your average person would ruin my websites if given the opportunity to decide how to run them, and running my websites is a tiny fraction as complicated as deciding how to appropriately allocate funds the government. This is why representative government works… the idea is you send people who represent the will of the people, who then put the time in to learn the ins and outs of managing government.The problem is that the people sent to Washington DON’T represent us. So what we need to do is build an opposition to the two major parties, so we can send people to Washington that DO. Americans Elect is an avenue for people who do represent us better to potentially get on the ballot.

          1. Brad

            Yes, La la land is good.Obviously the representatives are doing so well allocating money and determining where the money goes we should not question what they do.Our Senate has not passed a budget for almost three years and our President feels that a trillion dollar deficit is okay.My only point is that our representatives do not understand the bureaucracy and it keeps growing along with deficits and back door deals. Just trying to think outside the box and hold them accountable to us.I will have to read your website, looks interesting.

          2. Rise of the Center

            Are you responding to someone else? This doesn’t have anything to do with what I said… I very clearly said, well, this:”The problem is that the people sent to Washington DON’T represent us.”

          3. Brad

            In my browser it says you asked if I was in la la land. Maybe a disqus glitch?

          4. Rise of the Center

            No, I said you’re in la la land IF you think the American people understand our government enough to get into the minutia of where money goes, and then that the problem was that the people who are supposed to represent us in Washington don’t.You responded by ignoring that second part, and making a childishly snide comment about how they’re “doing so well allocating money” RIGHT after I had just said them not represnting us was the very problem.If you’re going to respond to someone, at the very least you should respond to what they actually say. Representative government works, but you have to have representatives that actually represent the will of the people, not like we have now where the folks in Washington only represent a smaller and smaller band of people on the left and right.

          5. Brad

            My only point, which we may be arguing minutia, is that currently they are not doing a good job. They need to be more accountable to us and not to lobby groups or party.

          6. Rise of the Center

            “My only point, which we may be arguing minutia, is that currently they are not doing a good job. They need to be more accountable to us and not to lobby groups or party.”I generally is better to actually say what you mean, and not something totally different, haha

    2. matthughes

      Many are bought even before the elections. 

      1. Brad

        The sad part is that they all start with good intentions, but it all falls apart after that.

        1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          Let me repeat. Politics is not about polls.  Look at international policies …good luck … I see very clearly Obama is the next President of U.S.A.

    3. JLM

      Politicians cannot really be bought, they can only be rented.The rent is always going up.

      1. fredwilson

        great line JLM

  32. kidmercury

    1. i liked the video. 2. i doubt this idea is going to get the necessary traction, which is quite a significant amount. 3. as noble as the intentions are, third parties are not new. the two party system is so entrenched i think a better strategy is to work within them (although this too most likely fail). as we will see the real solution is non-violent revolution. but these things take time, and usually take a degree of desperation that only poverty can bring. we’re getting poorer as a nation and a world, but not quite at the acceptance phase, still in the bargaining phase of the crisis. 4. striving for a brokered convention within the rethuglican party is well within reach, if people focus on and work with that as a goal in mind. there is only one candidate who has the name recognition, awareness of the political reality, still in the running for the republican party nomination, and a non-violent grassroots militia already working to make this happen. 5. more importantly, though, the nation-state model as a whole is no longer appropriate for governing our world. there are lots of transofrmations going on; consider, for instance, the abundance of natural gas and oil fields we are now able to access thanks to fracking (textbook disruptive innovation). the problem is now getting pipelines built to move this all around and to export it as well. getting this process done with the current federal nation-state system is an unnecessarily difficult challenge. a new system is needed as this one has become too complex, and is designed for a world in which resources are more scarce than our world actually is. for the internet folks, i believe the best first step is to start working on an alternate DNS system, so to that domain seizures have no impact. sort of like a new domain registry. then this new domain registry creates a hosts file that anyone can put on their computer. that’s step one, then we get our own computers and our own mesh networks. this idea probably needs to start on a very niche level where the current DNS system cannot reach.  

    1. matthughes

      Any good recommendations for reading up on fracking?

      1. kidmercury

        robert bryce’s blog and books for the big picture on energy, especially his latest book “power hungry”; casey research energy report ($40 per year at for monthly updates on energy as a whole, although that is very investment-oriented — i find it very educational but the primary purpose is investment ideas/stock selection.

        1. matthughes

          Thanks, I’ll check it out. 

    2. Michael Elling

      Agree with DNS, but wasn’t the current system established outside of the government and therefore undermines some of your premises?  Patents and (inter)networking issues are also significant and messed up right now.  Smartphone legal wrangles highlight a broken IP (intellectual property) system that is a tax on all of us.  The recent FCC move to bill and keep is a much bigger and more insidious issue than anyone realizes.  The IP (internet protocol) world may be beginning to realize that a balanced settlement system is important for new service creation in an internetworked world.  I will read your treatise to see if you touch on this.

      1. kidmercury

        the DNS system is operated by ICANN, which for all practical purposes is a part of the US government, as illustrated by the ease with which domain names are seized. i would prefer to move to a world where the US government cannot seize domain names in a meaningful way. if the hosts file on a computer is instructed to associate domains with a specific IP address rather than query the domain name against the ICANN directory, i think that is a big start.the legal system is thoroughly broken, with the biggest problem being 15.3 trillion in debt and rising. a country with such a debt burden, like a person with such a debt burden, is effectively a slave that will experience great difficulty lifting itself up until the debt is removed. this government shows no signs of doing that voluntarily and the population at large shows insufficient attention in addressing this economic reality.

        1. Michael Elling

          Thanks for clarifying ICANN. 13-14 years ago we had a chance to begin to pay down the deficit, then Wall Street said that would kill the fixed income market. Was it the govt or the private market that got us into this mess?

          1. kidmercury

            both, although i don’t make much of a distinction between the government and wall st. for all practical purposes, goldman sachs is the government. 

        2. LE

          And if they block the IP address?

          1. kidmercury

            if who blocks the IP address? you mean the internet service provider? for that reason, we need to develop mesh networks that can serve as a P2P internet service provider. at least in the beginning; if this movement matures we can proceed with more robust infrastructure. eventually the feds will raid data centers too, so the data needs to be distributed and host files will need the ability to be updated on the fly. but, i think the first step is defending against domain name seizures.

          2. LE

            “we need to develop mesh networks that can serve as a P2P internet service provider”Look if you’re talking about some way to serve a small portion of the users of the internet out there of course something can be done.But you’re not going to get some mass changeover that hit’s a tipping point. And what’s the utility in a solution that doesn’t provide a wide range of content?And in any case any network still runs over physical wires (at some point).  And someone controls those wires.Lastly, the general public simply doesn’t care about a rogue domain getting seized here or there. Go out on the street wherever you live and do a survey. 

          3. kidmercury

            it has to start small so it can evolve and grow organically from there. any type of real political change is not going to happen with ten million signatures and a national campaign — or rather if that is teh avenue one wants to pursue, they are better off trying to go the conventional route of getting in debates and getting a nomination or a brokered convention or all the normal games. the revolution has to start with a fringe crowd, off the radar and one that no one cares about.the point i like to emphasize is that the internet and government are both headed towards brokenness. there’s a spectrum crisis that needs to be resolved and a government that is flat broke and thus will increasingly find itself unable to fund its operations. how society deals with that is something we’ll get to find out, although i think the best route starts with niche communities using private internets that are essentially their own governments.

    3. Otto

      We should be trying to get rid of political parties and move into independent voting with independent candidates, not waste time trying to reform the irredeemable big two brand names or start third parties.

      1. kidmercury

        well, i think the entire system is beyond repair: the political parties, the federal system, the vote counting system, the various branches of government…..the whole thing. however, to the extent that one still believes in this system, i think playing within the two party world and the rules they setup is the best option. too many people are vested in it and will defend it from an attack. that is why i think dropping out and starting anew is the only viable option in the long run.

      2. TheVent

        I agree

    4. DaveGoulden

      I signed up for this a few months back.  The most attractive thing for me is that it’s really not a party, it’s a direct online selection process.   It will most likely not get full traction this time around, but if enough of us participate, it opens the door for this process down the road.

  33. Tom Labus

    Do the questions evolve with answers?As a way to balance “special interest” it could grow into something interesting.

  34. Richard

    When it comes to politicians we need less “rock stars” and more “rocket scientists”. Rock stars like to build castles (have u been to dc latley?), while rocket scientists like to solve problems.

    1. LE

      I agree but part of the problem is that to be a politician you also need charisma and the ability to convince and sell others. Those that can connect are the ones that get elected. It’s never been about the most qualified for a job (see my question to @donnawhite:disqus  )Look at what Fred has said about Mitt Romney (sorry I don’t have a link). 

      1. Richard

        Yep. I agree. This is in part so because we are dealing with a politcal industrial complex. Incumbent politics is a huge business in dc. Think the military is hard to downsize…, try messing with the livelihoods of dc et al.

  35. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    What does this mean … Ron Paul with most supporters and trackers will win?I think politics is beyond polls.

  36. JamesHRH

    I think this is interesting.Another post said start at the state level – I like the idea of revolutionizing Congress this way.

  37. chernevik

    The deficit is scrutiny of candidates, not candidates.  And it’s on us to provide it — we’ve all been too willing to hear what we want to hear.

  38. Steven Deal

    How do we address the electoral college issues?  It seems as though there need to be a discussion about why surrogate voters are required before we can meaningfully support the best person.

  39. Otto

    1. Get rid of voting by state or geographic district. Instead, we have representatives who are from an alphabetic group. A rep for people with last names starting with A – Ad, Ae – Ag, etc.This would get rid of pork barrel politics and make it far less predictable to corporate or bureaucratic rent seekers looking to exploit the process. Also, it would bring an end to block party voting in some regions and no more red state/blue state garbage.2. The legislature should not meet more than once every four years.One of our problems is that we’re over-litigated because politicians are always in DC or state capitols “doing something”. Also, we spend more time talking about these jerks than we should and too much time reacting to every piece of crap bill in the pipeline. This robs us of our productivity and happiness.I know this was a post about the Presidential election but our biggest problem right now is a corrupt and inept legislature.

  40. Esayas Gebremedhin

    The architecture of the internet with it’s ever connected users suggests such kind of project that empowers individuals. A nightmare for all conservative traditionalist, but the new game that will inevitably define the way countries and even the whole world is going to be governed.Kevin Kelly about Distributed Governance:”It’s an election hall of idiots, for idiots, and by idiots, and it works marvelously. This is the true nature of democracy and of all distributed governance.At the close of the curtain, by the choice of the citizens, the swarm takes the queen and thunders off in the direction indicated by mob vote. The queen who follows, does so humbly. If she could think, she would remember that she is but a mere peasant girl, blood sister of the very nurse bee instructed (by whom?) to select her larva, an ordinary larva, and raise it on a diet of royal jelly, transforming Cinderella into the queen.By what karma is the larva for a princess chosen? And who chooses the chooser? “The hive chooses,” is the disarming answer of William Morton Wheeler”The beauty of life inspired design is that it’s success is always guaranteed.

  41. Guest

    Meant as a reply to Kid Mercury:We should be trying to get rid of political parties and move into independent voting with independent candidates, not waste time trying to reform the irredeemable big two brand names or start third parties. Down with ideological organizations.

  42. Douglas Crets

    For all of you have not read Fred’s earlier posts on the matter, please go out at once and buy “Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital.” It is complete and utter finance geekery, but I feel like this voter platform idea is part of this evolution. The same catalyst here — the opening up of many channels that reveal just how much we have missed by depending on singular forms of media — is the same catalyst that is helping me to launch education technology meetups in Asia, parts of Africa, many cities across the US, and in India’s tech and government hubs — New Delhi and Bangalore, Mumbai. If you have not signed up for our NYC Ed Tech Entrepreneurs Meetup, please do so. By the way, Fred, we’ve doubled our registered attendees in just two weeks and need a new space. Is Meetup’s office available? :)… 

  43. Brent Logan

    They want name, birth date, address, security questions answered, and last four of social. Should I just send them my bank account to simplify the process of getting fleeced?

    1. jason wright

      Don’t they ask for a photo of your tonsils too somewhere?

    2. Franklyn Jones

      no Brent, they want just everybody voting, even Chinese Nationals. How the f*$k are they supposed to verify you identity?

  44. celestus

    The problem with the American political system isn’t the absence of competent candidates.  It’s that the competent candidates lose to people like Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

    1. Rise of the Center

      The only potentially decent candidates that I can think of that have run since I was in college have been Bill Bradley and Weseley Clark. The problem is not one or the other, it’s both. Neither party represents the will of the people anymore, AND good candidates don’t have a way to get nominated by the hard core partisans that run the nomination process on both sides.

    2. kidmercury


  45. JLM

    Beware the law of unintended consequences.  In 1992, Ross Perot delivered the country into the hands of a candidate who did not get a majority of the votes.Just for the record, in 1992:Bill C — 44,909,806 votes, 43% of the popular vote, 370 electors, 32 states and DCGeorge HW Bush — 39,104,550 votes, 37.5% of the popular vote, 168 electors, 18 statesRoss Perot — 19,743,821 votes, 18.9% of the popular vote, 0 electors, 0 statesThe anti-Clinton vote — 58,848,371 votes, 58% of the popular voteNo Ross Perot, George HW Bush is elected President, history turns out a bit different, perhaps.You have to ask yourself with some objective humility — is this course of action going to actually elect someone or does it have the potential to play a “spoiler’s” role of siphoning off enough votes to doom one candidate or the other.The central issue with our elections is really not the candidates, it is voter turnout.  Particularly in the primaries.Huh?  Have you gone mad, JLM?Consider the following:Colorado held its Republican primary on 7 Feb 2012 (my birthday BTW) and how many voters determined the outcome of that vote?Colorado “eligible” voters: 3,603,764.  Votes cast: 65,535.  A total of less than 1.5% of the eligible voters determined the outcome of the Colorado Republican primary.That’s where the real battleground lies.  Voter participation in primary elections.  When only 1.5% of Coloradoans vote, then this is not a democratic outcome.America Elects is a clever idea but it is not addressing the nexus upon which change will come — that nexus is voter participation.  We are a very “lazy” electorate as compared to the first Polish elections after the fall of Communism when the voter participation rate was almost 100%.Maybe we need some “trailer park” summer camp to wake up?This lack of interest is fundamentally why we keep electing stooges, we do no homework and we believe any nonsense candidates tell us.  I hope that changes.

    1. kidmercury

      looks like your birthday was last week — happy 21st!

      1. JamesHRH

        too funny

    2. JamesHRH

      apathy is the issue – not just in the USA.people don’t tend to the least the US has a history of spasmodically doing so.

      1. Franklyn Jones

        I made this chart a few years ago which helps explain the system we are locked into with our two party only players in an electoral process which gives 100% of the win for 51% or more of the vote in each state.

        1. JLM

          Well played!  Indeed.

    3. William Mougayar

      Don’t you think the primaries election process drags out too long? Do you need 9 months to determine that? Why can’t there be a one-day nation-wide primaries election after 2-3 months of campaigning? I think the outcome won’t change that much, but you will have saved a ton of money and people’s times.

      1. kidmercury

        some states like to have their primaries first because they know that the candidates who get the early lead tend to get everyone else to follow along. iowa is the worst, they want all these corn subsidies and so they have their caucus first, and all the candidates come out pro corn subsidy to win iowa so they can get momentum going into the other states. the whole system is broken beyond repair. 

        1. Franklyn Jones

          and the biggest argument FOR Americans Elect is that a broader spectrum is choosing the eventual nominee, not just the first few states.

      2. JLM

        The ritualized nonsense of allowing Iowa and New Hampshire to exercise disproportionate power over the nominating process has got to stop.I like the idea of a 90-day period and then the general election 90 days later.It will never happen unfortunately.

    4. TheVent

      Like the “trailer park” comment! Great!  😉

  46. jason wright

    Is this approach designed to bring forth candidates without the need for huge and subjective financial backing? Money with strings equals candidates as puppets with masters without democratic accountability whatsoever.It’s a disturbing thought, at least to me, that a political process could be in some small measure determined by an algorithm. Could a Panda-like tweak mischievously distort the outcome?At present the entire democratic process is a mass distortion (mass media and PR and corporate injections contaminating the hell out of the electorate’s ability to make their own personal subjective choices in favor of said holy trinity’s agenda for their own subjective outcome).The US is too big. Yvon Chouinard said that. I happen to agree with him. India is a bigger democracy, but that nation is regionally divided on religious, language, and cultural lines. What the US attempts to do is beyond good governance. Keep the overarching requirements of defense et.c., but divide the land mass and create three distinct economic zones with unilateral ability to set economic policy and parameters that match the needs of those zones. Devolution could work. With the rise of China something new needs to happen, and not just in the US. The EU is slowly melting.

  47. LE

    The current system is broken, sure.But I’m not in favor of any system in which people elect someone based on what is important to them as opposed to what is good for everyone or what is necessary to achieve some other goal that may benefit future generations. And that assumes people even have the intellect to make good choices given the available information. Guess what, they don’t. The lead story on the evening news the other night was that Whitney Houston died. The lead story. The second story was that  Supreme Court justice Breyer got robbed in Nevis.…Ask yourself why the lead story was about Whitney Houston. Because that is the mentality of the public who watch the evening news. And those are the more intelligent members of our society.One of the problems we have now is that the elected officials do care about the issues that the general public thinks are important instead of what is important for the greater good. How much political capital is spent and time wasted over the years with the abortion issue because a significant voting block feels either way about that issue? That’s what happens when enough people decide that something is important to them to the exclusion of the rest of the country.

    1. kidmercury

      unfortunately your comment is too accurate……if you watch mainstream news you’d think abortion was the only political issue and that whitney houston was the most important person in human history

    2. JamesHRH

      LE – its only broken if you don’t believe that you should disseminate information based on popularity, not importance.Thinking Fast & Slow pretty much nails it – most people are scanning & skimming. the hard work of thinking is neither natural nor enjoyable.Whitney catches most people’s attention. Reform does not.

    3. Modernist

      That’s why every revolutionary should be building education apps.  Jeffrey Sachs essentially comes to this conclusion in “The Price of Civilization”

    4. TheVent

      Selfishness not good!

  48. G. Bruce Hedlund

    Thanks for your piece on AE. I beg to differ, though, on your descriptive of online, third “party” movement. AE is not a party. Rather it is a portal that allows ordinary voters to become delegates who participate in the nomination of a third choice on the ballot. The nominee’s only obligation is to pick a running mate from another political party. This heretofore unheard of combination of candidates may well serve to inject a force that disrupts the status quo enjoyed by Republicans and Democrats alike. And, if so, the American citizen stands to gain the most. Nutty? Perhaps…like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Galileo, Columbus, Edison, et al.

    1. Rise of the Center

      You’re right. It isn’t a party. It’s a 501(c)4, which people call Super PACs

      1. Franklyn Jones

        501(c)(4)’s are Social Welfare Organizations, Homeowners’ and Tenants’ Associations, Veterans’ Organizations, Organizations Supported by Government, “Social Welfare” and “Charity”, Social and Recreational Activities, Business Activities, Police and Firefighters’ Relief Organizations, Health Care Organizations, Local Associations of Employees… 

    2. fredwilson

      you are right

  49. Bloggerrogr

    I am an everyday citizen who is involved with Americans Elect. Everything that a person needs to know is on their website, including the backers and those in administrative positions. I find it most interesting that there are people from both political parties, Republican and Democratic, people who are very familiar with the way that politics works from the inside out. It takes that insider knowledge to develop strategies to counteract the sickness that infects our political process the way it currently exists.Do your own research, folks. Contact their people and ask all the questions you have, and if, after all that, you are not convinced, then perhaps Americans Elect is not for you.

  50. artberkowitz

    It seems that the primary objection being raised to Americans Elect is that many of its donors choose to remain anonymous. What a lark! This is nothing more than a attempt to divert the attention of the readers from the main issue – how the American people have been shut out of a nominating system that does not even attempt to comply with the principles of democracy. As far as donor secrecy, does that mean that every one of you who object are refusing to vote for either of the two major party candidates. The very essence of the Super Pacs is so that the donors do not have to be disclosed – talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Now that President Obama and the Democrats have joined the Republicans in seeking to fund their campaigns through the use of non disclosure donors, this is totally a NON ISSUE. At least the donors to Americans Elect had a legitimate reason for wanting not to be disclosed since many are also financial supporters of one or the other of the two parties. So let’s get back to the main issue, does the nominating process initiated by Americans Elect offer you and the American people a system superior to the one being offered by the two major parties? Are you happy with your two choices. Do you wish you had another choice – one where you actually had a say in who gets nominated? Then sign up as a delegate with Americans Elect. You don’t have to leave your party. You don’t even have to vote in November for the Americans Elect candidate if he or she is not someone you can support. But don’t throw out false and irrelevant objections to those of us who believe the present system needs improvement.

    1. Rise of the Center

      It is NOT a lark to have a problem with Americans Elect keeping donor information secret.Polls show the American people are staunchly against the practice of secret funding of political organizations, and I am but one among many people I’ve talked to who support Americans Elect who’s support is blunted by the secret money. I may have applied to work for AE had they not taken this route, and would have for sure donated hundreds, applied to be a delegate and state central committee if they were open with their funding.You may not have a problem with it, but most people who know about it do, and to call it a lark is BULLSHIT. It’s a completely valid problem to have with ANY organization. Parties have to disclose donors, and Americans Elect should have to also.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Why is it important that donors be disclosed?  I’m not asking in order to be combative; I just want to know why you think this. Since I wondered whether I was just being obtuse, I searched through the comments for the word “donor” and “fund” (which also brings up the word with a suffix added). Very few of the commenters have mentioned this as an issue.

        1. Rise of the Center

          I was only responding in this manner because he was calling the concern a lark. Would not have construed your comment as combative at all.Flip it around for a second. Do you think that political parties and campaigns should have to disclose donor information? I do, and I don’t think it makes sense to say that those political organizations should have to disclose their donors, and these others shouldn’t. Like most people, I think that ALL organizations that spend money in politics should have to disclose their donors.And if you don’t think it’s much of an issue, then search “Americans Elect & hidden” or “Americans Elect & money” (or some derivation) on Google. For most of the people I’ve talked to about this, they’ve given up pressing Americans Elect, and have either dropped out of supporting them, or just grown resigned to the lack of transparency. I want AE to succeed, and I think this is weighing them down, so I wont stop prodding.

      2. jason wright

        It’s critical that the sources of funding be disclosed. Democracy without transparency?When one looks at the issue of SOPA and PIPA as an example of the ‘repositioning’ of liberties in the age of the web by the powers that be one must be more than a little concerned about the authenticity of any group that attempts to ‘reform’ the electoral process in this way if it is not disclosing its funding sources. As I’ve already said, AE’s Chief Legal Counsel is an ‘insider’, with close professional links to already well established political figures and networks. Could AE be land grabbing new political territory on behalf of the vested interest against the possibility of occupancy by the disenfranchised?Mullen Company was a classic example of ‘management’ of the democratic process by unseen agents of the state.

        1. Franklyn Jones

          By this argument, you can therefore vote for no one using a PAC and therefore you can vote for no one. 

        2. Rise of the Center

          There is no new political territory. Perhaps what you mean is territory that is freeing up because the two parties are becoming ideologically pure / narrower and narrower and leaving more of the center unrepresented?If that was what you were meaning to say… I wish it were true. Americans Elect would be much better off had they taken an overt stance on being an organization for centrists and moderates. They’re scaring off a lot of people with the very likely possibility that Ron Paul will run away with the nomination. This is the second major reason why I couldn’t accept being a delegete for AE – it requires that you vote for who wins the nomination, and I’d NEVER vote for extremists like Ron Paul, under any circumstance.

      3. Franklyn Jones


        1. Rise of the Center

          Are you being puposefully dense? Did I say they were?PACs have to release donor info. 527 groups have to give out donor info. Parties have to give out donor info. Candidate campaigns have to give our donor info. Even most Super PACs release donor info.It’s only this narrow band of a certain twisted way that SOME Super PACs set themselves up that allows for them to keep their donors secret. As I said – the vast majority of the country thinks it’s wrong – because it is. NOBODY should be able to spend a penny on politics without disclosing their donors. Me being a fan of Americans Elect doesn’t give them a pass.

          1. TheVent

            Right, right i somewhat agree, because who knows who could B funding anyone ch*! for all we know the donators could B terrorists, fanatics, bigots etc. !  lol  not to mention the saying ” To Thy Ownself Be True”,  why hide when in reality wo really gives a F%*0 what antone does, as stated B4 this is america.  Why hide??

    2. Modernist

      When did the American people ever have more opportunity to elect a President than today?

  51. johnhain49

    Crowd-sourcing as a means of formulating public policies and crafting legislative actions is on the horizon.  Join Americans Elect, participate, and help it evolve toward a revolutionary form of direct democracy.  Far better to get involved in AE than to sit passively, hopeless and powerless, as the two major parties sell us out once again.

  52. stephanieveronica80

    After Viewing the Republican primaries, who could possibly think that the system is not rigged. First primary state Iowa is very conservative Christian, Second state N.H. may be the smallest state in the union, Third state South Carolina is very conservative Christian Baptist, Fourth state Florida is all conservative old people — the ones who think their social security and medicare are not a form of socialist.  Rigged, rigged, rigged.  Not one of these states represent the mainstream.  And for all those severely conservative people who carry their constitution in their pockets, tell them to look up political parties in it and let me know where they find it.  Political Parties are unconstitutional!!!!!   I hope Americans Elect is the beginning of the end of political parties.  AE is where I am taking my independent not affiliated vote.  40 percent of the registered voters are independent and cannot vote in the primaries in most states.  Americans Elect is the only place for us.  

  53. Mordy Kaplinsky

    I personally love the concept but the fact that its mostly existing politicians shows me that this is just another cynical establishment play.  I like that people are at least frustrated enough that the talk of this is feasible, but if you think for one second that this is going to truly represent the 99% and solve America’s issues I hate to say it but think again.  I know this sounds snarky but from its earliest days this has been another “movement” created by the same old people who are simply looking for a new platform.

    1. Franklyn Jones

      Why the hell would the “establishment” want to muck up what they got going? Lets hear this great conspiracy theory…

      1. Mordy Kaplinsky

        Because they can claim to represent a new breed of representative politics while staking a more powerful position for self-serving goals.Make no mistake. I fully support the concept, but the difficulty is in its application.Thanks for the cynicism though 🙂

  54. Jess Bachman

    I’ve got an idea for a startup that could put more power into the hands of the electorate.We only get one vote per election cycle, and can only use it once every 2-6 years.  What if there was a system to vote early, and retract your vote if you choose.  Make that vote work all year round.Anyone care to hear more?  I’ve got enough on my plate, this one is up for grabs.

  55. AamAdmi

    The problem is not that we need a “third” person in the government, there can be no guarantees that we won’t need a “fourth” or the “fifth”. What we need is a “less need for government”.

  56. Vincent Lacey

    As a delegate from Arizona, I am aware of the difficulties we face. But, we cannot mope about who, what, where, and when. WE are the American people and the voters who must make a difference. Americans Elect requires our participants to challenge the status quo in even, upbeat, strong, and positive ways. Our opinions matter.  Those of you who have access to the media where there is an audience must be positive, not always defensive.  

  57. Richard

    Is there a difference between search and discovery? For me search is when you know what you are looking for, discovery is when you are looking for something to add to your life. What do I want? I call it searchface. I want to know where a VC spends his time on the internet. Where Francis Collins spends his time? Where Leonardo Dicaprio spends his time? Etc? Couldn’t this be done on a opt in format? ( a searchface button? ) 

  58. Kenyan

    I’m not American, but I follow politics a little and signed up for fun….the alternative system I have experienced in my life is the Kenyan political system – there you just go for your tribal leader! Although I guess that is what is happening in USA to an extent – the 2 major tribes butting heads.

  59. dwinkle

    Quaint concept, but if it gains any traction, it will be usurped by the parties. It’s easy to  come up with someone who knows the right answers to the right questions.

  60. Lucas Dailey

    The problem isn’t lack of good 3rd party candidates, the problem is the voting system.As long as we have a First Past the Post voting system, it’s in peoples interests to vote strategically (such as only for candidates they perceive as “viable”, even if they prefer someone else). See Duverger’s Law.We need a preference voting system.  I recenty wrote about the issue: The Revolution we Need Isn’t At The Ballot Box, it’s To The Ballot Box. http://happyemergency.tumbl

  61. Dsterling9

    I ask again….WHO ARE THEY?????  Need names and such!So far you have not shown me much!

    1. fredwilson

      they are going to do an AMA on Reddit. that should address all of these issues.

  62. Bobadams86

    We can change anything we choose to change…It’s the outcome that we’re not always happy with. 🙂

  63. Prokofy

    I joined this ages ago. Where were you?!  But it really exhausted me, all those questions. And I felt it was scraping, scraping, scraping data from me parsing everything a zillion ways, and I wasn’t getting the candidate.It would be great if they would come up with a less extreme Democrat than Obama, and then got that candidate on the ballot except…I’m not sure but this isn’t yet another form of Bolshevism that is destroying our democratic institutions. So now that you’ve shown up, it might become a) better (more normal, if business savvy and tech savvy is applied to it or b) more extreme, if you just apply your technocommunist politics to it.Try to think of it as for everybody!

  64. Alice Marshall

    It looks like the fix is in…I don’t think a top-down organization is going to fix what is wrong with our country.

  65. Susan Barsy

    Commenters may be interested in reading “A President Without A Party? Americans Elect” on my website OUR POLITY.