Tired of banging his head against a wall he thinks doesn’t exists, former Gov. Buddy Roemer has decided to change strategy in his quest to slay his inner demons. But in doing so, in fact ultimately will he end up contributing to the problem he claims that exists of which he has faith he is part of the solution?
Roemer, plying his trade as a banking owner and executive for much of his post-gubernatorial career, has met the enemy and declared they are us, thereby engaging in a quixotic quest to win the Republican 2012 presidential nomination on a platform that moneyed interests have disproportionate power in politics. That campaign has gone nowhere, as polling of those likely to participate in the primary election process have had little appetite for a Roemer candidacy, where his drawing one percent of their support has been a good day.
Reasons for Roemer’s unpopularity have little to do with the reason Roemer fantasizes causes it. He thinks it’s because of his inability to raise much money because he limits donations to his campaign to $100, and if he had more resources the message that so resonated with the public could get out. In reality, it’s because Roemer’s messenger has little credibility and his message stinks, like a guy who’s a financier can deliver a credible conspiracy-driven rap against money or, better yet, can convince the public he’s the guy to put in charge when he can’t even prevent the likes of jailbirds David Duke and Edwin Edwards from denying him reelection to his last executive branch gig.
But desire to feel relevant after a bright future petered out continues to drive Roemer (summed up by his quote, "I want on the national stage"), and he’s not ready to quit just because Republicans find other candidates far more persuasive and credible. Previous flirtations with the silly Occupy movement and with a group attempting to try to place a non-major party alternative onto presidential ballots now have turned into full-blown courtships, with Roemer giving his best “power to the people” fist pump to the former and making his announcement that he intends to link up with the latter.
The group, Americans Elect, seeks to gain ballot access in all 51 jurisdictions, invite politicians to compete for nomination to fill those spots, and then vet an Internet plebiscite to produce a winning ticket. In fact, of the candidates its leaders already identified, Roemer led the field according to the metric used to establish whether a political figure met the group’s allegedly “moderate” ideology. It publicly argues that it wishes to have a moderate figure and ticket that straddles the major parties, to satisfy the craving that many Americans have to work outside a system where a number of people say they are dissatisfied with the choices provided by the major parties.
However, a number of questions surround the group’s real intentions, which began four years ago but then ran into problems because they incorporated as a political party but hesitated to reveal donor information. From the ashes of that group, the new effort incorporated as a social welfare organization not required by law to list donors. Other than that its main founder, former hedge fund financier Peter Ackerman, gave a substantial sum, nothing is known about who has given what or how much for each.
This has gotten some on the political left, to whom anything that conceivably could be part of a conspiracy despite any evidence to the effect therefore must be, riled up. They claim the secretiveness of the group hides big money interests trying to create a candidacy to peel off voters from Pres. Barack Obama’s reelection bid.
But in applying a more learned and critical perspective to the facts, it appears either these voices act as useful idiots for or have assented to assisting a campaign of disinformation designed to promote the reelection of Obama. Several clues point to this being the real motivation behind the group.
Beginning with the shielded donors, the group has put forth no good reason why this is so crucial to its stated mission. The other of its main organizers, political operative and consultant Kahlil Byrd, has argued secrecy is warranted to protect personal and professional lives. But do those who support “centrism” really face such ostracism? Hidden contributions as a tactic to prevent uncovering the group’s true agenda, through matching higher-profile donors to their pet political causes, seems a more convincing reason.
Certainly a review of its leaders would indicate a leftist tilt. Its officers’ backgrounds tend to the marginally political to Democrats who occasionally dabble in supporting Republicans such as Chief Executive Officer Byrd, to “pragmatic” Republicans. The lean to the left becomes more obvious when considering its Board of Directors, chief among them Ackerman who aligns himself with leftist causes that fellow traveler George Soros also supports and who seems to fit the mold of a more honest Jon Corzine, who as the liberal Democrat governor of New Jersey first drove that state into the ground, then after his defeat for reelection drove the firm MF Global into bankruptcy through questionable dealings. The only member with any real GOP past, another former New Jersey governor in Christine Todd Whitman, certainly cannot be considered ideologically to hold a place on the right.
Also, listed are “leaders,” where a similar leftist slant emerges. A few who could be called moderate or liberal Republicans are thrown in, but, apart from the few with no real identifiable past political leanings, the remainder have had careers supporting Democrats and liberal causes, or whose academic work ends up more on the left than right (which may make them outliers right of center in academia, but not in the real world).
Yet despite these leanings, the candidates identified by the group almost without exception are Republicans, the party of which the left universally bays is too rigid ideologically. Even more interestingly, judged by the issues the group says it prefers, it scores these preferences in a way where Obama’s views are not much different than those of their leading contenders such as Roemer. For a group that claims partisan polarization produces poor policy, it seems odd that if the incumbent president isn’t doing a bad job of representing its views why then it would undertake this cause. And it’s especially curious why a group who historically in the main has backed Democrats seems interested almost exclusively in Republican standard-bearers. Again, this fits more the profile of an outfit designed to pick a candidate to siphon GOP votes than anything else.
This impression only is reinforced by the ballot access issue facing the group. It possibly could overcome the logistics problem of getting a place for it on all 51 ballots with a lot of resources. But it also will encounter legal barriers that it is entirely unlikely to surmount, created precisely because of its legal corporate form to obscure donors’ identities. In a significant minority of states its form will not allow it on the ballot, meaning only long-shot and lengthy legal challenges will work to achieve that.
It seems that if the group was serious about presenting a viable alternative to the major parties it would have put itself in a form that could accomplish that. Instead, by choosing its 501(c)4 form combined with logistical challenges that may get it only on half of all of the ballots, this lends more credence to the belief it exists to play a spoiler role – to the detriment, as other supposition indicates, of the Republicans.
That also appears confirmed by a final observation about past political behavior: voters more likely to favor Republicans also tend to be more likely to respond favorably to dissenting minor candidates. This is precisely because, as noted by the left, of the greater ideologically purity of the party, which bases itself on the coherence and clarity of conservatism. By contrast, saddled with a liberalism discredited by events since the 1980s, Democrats must make appeals much less tied to intellectual content and are more emotive to their mass base, while activists are united over a quest for power.
In short, Democrats (especially with a solid black voting base that will absolve about any Democrat of any ideological heresy) are much more forgiving about their candidates’ lack of ideologically purity than are Republicans, the latter of which presently perfectly is being illustrated by internal criticisms of challengers to Obama. Republican-oriented voters are less pragmatic and less tolerant of candidates seen as “imperfect” ideologically, and therefore would be more open to an appeal from a minor party candidate, than are Democrats (and especially activists for whom a quest for power has become the ideology that replaced flawed liberalism, even as they continue to mouth liberal pieties).
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 11:25