It’s time to get your Village kaiju fight on. Giant monsters everywhere, and yet this one has seemingly been defeated before it could shoot lasers out of its mouth. Centrist lasers. Paul Krugman mourns today’s putative opponent, Americans Elect.
And the center not only did not hold, it couldn’t seem to get any attention whatsoever. Americans Elect, a lavishly funded “centrist” group that was supposed to provide an alternative to traditional political parties, has been a ridiculous flop. Basically, about seven people were actually excited about the venture — all of them political pundits. Actual voters couldn’t care less.
One of those seven is Krugman’s colleague Mustache Of Understanding Tom Friedman who famously said this:
Thanks to a quiet political start-up that is now ready to show its hand, a viable, centrist, third presidential ticket, elected by an Internet convention, is going to emerge in 2012. I know it sounds gimmicky — an Internet convention — but an impressive group of frustrated Democrats, Republicans and independents, called Americans Elect, is really serious, and they have thought out this process well. In a few days, Americans Elect will formally submit the 1.6 million signatures it has gathered to get on the presidential ballot in California as part of its unfolding national effort to get on the ballots of all 50 states for 2012.
Yeah, how did that work out for you a year later, guys? Millions spent, candidates to show for it? Zero.To his credit, Krugman nails why Americans Elect failed.
What went wrong? Well, there actually is a large constituency in America for a political leader who is willing to take responsible positions — to call for more investment in the nation’s education and infrastructure, to propose bringing down the long-run deficit through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. And there is in fact a political leader ready and willing (maybe too willing) to play that role; his name is Barack Obama.
But of course spending money on education and infrastructure is “unsustainable big government socialism.” And the “centrist” Americans Elect people really are nothing more than our old Austerian friends in disguise, selling the notion that we all have to “sacrifice” in order to make it.
What they mean by sacrifice of course is the end of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and public education as we know it which will be sacrificed for tax cuts for the people rich enough to spend millions on completely daft ideas like Americans Elect. It’s putting a bland, harmless face on buying the government. The only thing saving America from these idiots is the fact that bland doesn’t sell to our short attention span culture.