Americans Elect Shows That Voters Are Ready for Bipartisanship
by Taylor Nye | University of Wisconsin- Madison
A new initiative will bring independents to the Wisconsin ballot, as Americans Elect turned over 17,666 signatures to the Government Accountability Board office in Madison, the Badger Herald reports. The existence of groups like Americans Elect serves as a zeitgeist that reflects the increasing fractionalization of the U.S.’s partisan politics. And its popularity shows that for many Americans, the two-party system is getting old.
Gary Filipp, president of the Madison, Wis., chapter of Americans Elect, says the organization’s purpose is to turn the nominating process to a grassroots viewpoint and get more people involved than would normally participate in the political system. By logging on to the site, americanselect.org, visitors can electronically support candidates who match up with their viewpoints, regardless of affiliated party. Don’t know who you should support? A portion of the site guides you to candidates who might represent what you stand for through a questionnaire.
The site itself makes no qualms about its purpose. Under the “About” section it reads, “You have the power to help break gridlock and change politics as usual.” It also says that the group is planning to put a candidate chosen through direct democracy on the ballot in all 50 states for the first time in history. Supporters can voice their approval of candidates through the Internet, and those with the most votes move on to two further rounds to narrow the pool. The organization has already collected 2.4 million signatures.
Americans Elect is a unique organization in today’s political climate, and it clearly reflects a value shift in the public’s attitude toward political discourse. There’s the “democracy in the digital world” aspect, as the group calls it. With the Kony 2012 campaign, as well as the Tunisia and Egyptian uprisings in mind, Americans Elect further validates cyberactivism as a way to effect political change.
But even more so, Americans Elect’s credo shows that a large subsection of the American electorate is dissatisfied with the political system. In a world of pundits and mudslinging, some are saying they’ve had enough, and they’re making their voices heard through groups that try to put third-party candidates in the public eye. Recent events in Wisconsin, such as last year’s collective bargaining uprising, and national issues, like the schism in the current legislative session, are making Americans realize that politics have never been so divided, and we’re not O.K. with it.
Americans Elect is not only a bottom-up engine of change. It offers social media as a method for political outreach and participation. And it’s 2.4 million people throwing up their hands, fed up with the legislative factionalism that plagues our government now.Taylor Nye is a University of Wisconsin-Madison junior majoring in human evolutionary biology, archaeology, and Latin American studies. She works at the Badger Herald, where she is a columnist, Opinion Section content editor and Editorial Board member.