For "1984" Orwell conjured up a one-party state so powerful and pervasive that it was forced to create a phony "resistance" movement led by a fiction-within-a-fiction, Emmanuel Goldstein.
This past Sunday's New York Times op/ed column by Thomas Friedman, the hackiest hack in American mediadom, presents a Goldstein for America 2012: a third party whose candidate would purportedly be chosen by we, the people. "Thanks to a quiet political start-up that is now ready to show its hand," writes Friedman, "a viable, centrist, third presidential ticket, elected by an Internet convention, is going to emerge in 2012."
Amend that: rather than being chosen by we the people, whose ideologies span the gamut, this candidate would be picked by a tiny segment of centrists, i.e. the fraction of the electorate whose ideology falls between the Democratic and Republican parties.
Alas, Friedman continues. He always does.
"The goal of Americans Elect is to take a presidential nominating process now monopolized by the Republican and Democratic parties, which are beholden to their special interests, and blow it wide open -- guaranteeing that a credible third choice, nominated independently, will not only be on the ballot in every state but be able to take part in every presidential debate and challenge both parties from the middle with the best ideas on how deal with the debt, education and jobs."
The world may not be flat. Friedman's prose, on the other hand...
Check it: there were 80 words in that sentence. A typical op/ed column is 650 words. Thomas Friedman could write an entire column in eight sentences.
Maybe the bizarro world of American journalism, in which Friedman deserves Pulitzers and No. 1 bestsellers while fellow Timesman Paul Krugman can't get arrested on national TV, is correct. Only a genius could get paid for this.
Like the proles of "1984," Americans of all political stripes are disgusted with the Democrats and Republicans. Americans Elect offers a tantalizing prospect to a populace starving for representation worthy of them and the problems that face our nation: genuine democracy free of big corporate money.
So who is Americans Elect?
Their website, americanselect.org, reads more like American Select.
There's good reason for that.
Americans Elect, Friedman writes as though his readers would approve, is based in "swank offices, financed with some serious hedge-fund money, a stone's throw from the White House."
Just what we need -- another phony Astroturf movement (hello, Tea Party) financed by thieving Wall Street hedge-fund scum.
Americans Elect is run by "Elliot Ackerman, an Iraq war veteran with a Silver Star, who serves as the chief operating officer of Americans Elect, and whose father, Peter, a successful investor, has been a prime engine behind the group."
Talk about opaque! Elliot Ackerman, all of 30 years old, isn't even listed on Wikipedia.
Let's not get into how and where Mr. Zillionaire War Hero scored his Silver Star.
Oh, let's: it was for massacring local Iraqi resistance fighters defending Fallujah from U.S. occupation troops.
Ackerman & Son want to acquire nothing less than the United States of America. First they should probably learn how to name a website. Not to mention build one. Unless you register you get bumped one screen into their "my colors" page, which is supposed to measure where your politics are on the right-to-left-o-meter.
They might have fixed the website before calling Thomas Friedman, but whatever.
The proposed political mechanics of Americans Elect are beyond naïve. They're so silly that a 7th grade civics student would laugh out loud.
"Any presidential nominee" resulting from the Internet nominations for president, Friedman says, would have to be "considered someone of similar stature to our previous presidents. That means no Lady Gaga allowed."
In other words, you can vote for anyone you like, as long as it's an Old White Protestant Male. Nice democracy you got there, Mssrs. Hedge Fund. Why not open things up? Whatever you think of her wardrobe, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta hadn't destroyed the economy or started pointless wars.
Now for the best bad part. "Each presidential candidate has to pick a running mate outside of their party and reaching across the divide of politics," sayeth Ackerman the Lesser, He Who Slaughtered the Ragheads of Fallujah.
So old-fashioned party politics do come into it.
Ds can run with Rs, Rs can run with Ds, socialists and libertarians need not apply. Oh, and why would anyone run for president knowing that their Old White Protestant Male running mate would be one heartbeat away from reversing everything you cared about?
Concludes chief cheerleader Friedman: "What Amazon.com did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music, what drugstore.com did to pharmacies, Americans Elect plans to do to the two-party duopoly that has dominated American political life."
Drugstore.com? Really, Tom?
Big cheese at the Times. Makes high six, more like low seven, figures. Proof that anyone can make it in America, as long as they're not smart.
"Serious hedge-fund money" aside, Americans Elect doesn't stand a chance against the billions of corporate dollars lined up behind the Dems and GOP. But that isn't stopping mainstream media like NPR and the cable news networks from giving them publicity -- and thus false hope to a public in dire need of real solutions, not more charlatans.
Just like Emmanuel Goldstein, Americans Elect accomplishes something remarkable. It offers a third-party alternative so phony and disappointing that it can only make Americans more cynical than they are already.
Which makes me wonder. Are these guys the pompous clods they look like, or agents provacateur hastening the Revolution?
--(Ted Rall is the author of "The Anti-American Manifesto." His website is tedrall.com.)
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