Reality catching up to, if unacknowledged by, Roemer
As a lens through which to study Louisiana politics, this column takes three critical approaches: it loathes hypocrisy, it disparages self-deception, and it does not suffer gladly the misinformed or ignoramuses who lack self-awareness of these qualities in their argumentation or actions. Which is why it takes such an interest in the presidential candidacy of former Gov. Buddy Roemer, as his quest illuminates elements of all three of these traits studied.
Roemer’s candidacy has produced a cornucopia of them – arguing he’s against politics as usual and big money in it, when his whole professional and political careers he’s participated in them; his stupefaction over how so few people seem to agree with him, but explained away by the conspiracy theory that the very interests he rails against flex their imagined powers to prevent that; and, while claiming to serve as the knight in shining armor to free the people from such oppression, in reality is all about his own sense of ambition and need to rehabilitate his reputation, as evidenced by his running as a Republican until in no longer suited his craving for power and then openly campaigning for the experimental Americans Elect designation to fill state ballot spots it has secured.
The organization desires to present a meaningful alternative to the major party nominees for the presidency this fall, through a vetting process that first presents candidates for nomination by popularity, then who are vetted by the organization to adhere to what they claim are “centrist” political preferences, and finally to have a national primary to select a slate which has the presidential nominee from one party and the vice presidential nominee from another. As what is known about the funders of the group indicates they belong to the center-left of the ideological spectrum, the goal may be to produce a candidate from the center-right that will siphon off enough votes from the Republican nominee to ensure the reelection of Pres. Barack Obama.
But that strategy has been mooted by the apparent impending nomination of perhaps the most center-right candidate for the Republicans, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In part this likely explains why, due to a lack of public participation, the organization recently declared that its decision timetable had been postponed and modified, to account for the fact that, according to its own rules, no candidate even qualifies. To start the winnowing process by Internet voting, candidates that previously held an office such as governor or having been elected to Congress like Roemer needed at the web site 10,000 clicks in support with at least 1,000 in at least ten states, while others needed at least 50,000.
Romney’s apparent elevation no doubt sapped some incentive from the process. However, the main reason why not much has happened on this front is that the Americans Elect underlying rationale for existence – that a significant number of voters are entirely disenchanted with the choices provided by the two major parties and hungry for an alternative – is utterly mistaken. In an America whose political culture disdains ideological extremes, its two broad-based major parties do very well in providing sufficient alternatives for an electorate generally not highly engaged nor deeply informed about many issues, but one that can distinguish between choices on a few big important issues of the day that the parties do provide.
Roemer in this campaign also has engaged in similar self-delusion, unable to understand why his message doesn’t resonate except to join the tinfoil-hat-wearing, black-helicopter-searching crowd in blaming some bogeymen that are powerful and manipulative enough to keep the people from understanding the “truth.” Unlike this space, which values highly Occam’s Razor as a guiding principle in human behavior and reveals the actual reason why Roemer’s message is so unpopular: it’s not a compelling cosmology in the first place, given the perceptions, experiences, and discerning learning of the mass public. It just does not comport to reality, as even those with just a passing interest in politics have figured out.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 10:15