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Unity '08

Some "centrists" have decided to try again to have a bi-partisan, third-party ticket in the presidential election. This time, they think they are going to be successful because they are using the Internet.

The effort, dubbed Unity08, aims to enlist millions of Americans for an online primary to nominate a centrist, third-party ticket for the 2008 presidential race. Even if you look really hard on the Unity 08 website, I don't think you can find their platform, or even a position on any issue, ranging from the war in Iraq to Social Security to race relations. Their only position was their disdain for partisan politics. Is that enough to mobilize anyone?

See the following article from the LA Times.

Unity08 sponsors contend that they can succeed where others have failed largely because the Internet makes it easier and less expensive to reach and organize potential supporters. "Why now? Because the technology allows it," said another organizer, Angus King, who as an independent served two terms as Maine's governor.

If nothing else, the effort could help answer two questions: Is there a substantial constituency of moderate voters alienated from the highly partisan and polarized politics that defines Washington? And can a centrist political movement be organized through the Internet, which so far has been used more by partisan and ideological voices?

Few analysts doubt the existence of discontent with the Democratic and Republican parties, but many are dubious that the Unity08 initiative can harvest it.

"I call them the unicorn party — it's sheer fantasy," said Michael Cornfield, an expert in online politics at the Pew Internet & American Life Project. "No candidate, no money, no position on Iraq; to me it's escapism."

Similarly, Tom Matzzie, Washington director for MoveOn.org, the online liberal advocacy group, said disaffection with intense partisanship was probably too diffuse a motivation to drive the third-party effort.

"On the Internet side, it is hard to imagine anything getting started in the absence of a charismatic leader or a moment of crisis or urgency," Matzzie said. "Political movements aren't jump-started by consultants who buy ad space on Google."
(LA Times, June 5, 2006).

Also, see the comment sections under the centristcoalition blog. Lots of good points made here I think.

I think its success will depend a lot on the ticket ( McCain & Kerry? McCain & Clinton? McCain & Obama? - can't actually see any of these folks signing on for it), and their positions (Iraq? abortion? gay marriage?) I do, however, think their use of the Internet is the right tool for their group, even if they haven't worked out the incredibly important details.