By Lou Aronson
Americans Elect did not fail. The group and its followers launched themselves headlong into the rapidly changing intersection of politics, democracy and technology. Although they fell short of the goal of fielding a candidate in 2012 AE demonstrated some of the potential of how technology can reshape little “d”emocracy.
I recently left the full time practice of law and started Votifi, a technology start-up focused on the political space. I have closely followed a number of new ventures seeking to disrupt the way politics as usual is done in the United States. I have been fortunate to meet and learn about companies like PopVox, ElectNext, Ruck.Us, TurboVote and PolicyMic to name a few. It’s been a fascinating journey.
We came across AE early in its evolution as it attempted to launch a political movement by using the Internet to develop a centrist platform and crowd source the identification of a viable candidate for president. While I am no strong advocate of third party politics, I believe AE is onto something.
Yet when AE announced it was abandoning its nomination process because it was unable to attract enough support for any single candidate, pundits wailed that AE’s failure is yet another sign of the broader, irreparable dysfunction of the American political system.
Their analysis misses the point. Sure, it might be too soon or too difficult to really make a viable third party thrive in the American political system. But I think AE’s real legacy is much more than just testing one theory.