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30 May 2006 @ 08:12 pm
Notes from May 30 Unity08 conference call  
I’m not sure who all was on the line, but the major U08 players included:
  • Doug Bailey, Arlington, VA, former political consultant, co-founder The Hotline.
  • Jim Jonas, Denver, CO. Public affairs consultant and Founder/Partner of Peak Creative Media, CEO of Unity08.
  • Hamilton Jordan, Atlanta, GA. Carter White House Chief of Staff, writer, investor; focused on for-profit and non-profit start-ups.
  • Angus King, Brunswick, ME. Former two-term independent Governor of Maine, teacher, businessman, attorney.
  • James Strock, Scottsdale, AZ. Former California Secretary for Environmental Protection, Author of Theodore Roosevelt on Leadership and Reagan on Leadership.
1. Unity08 has a two-tiered criterion for declaring victory. They obviously know they’re up against a huge challenge in trying to win the White House. Bailey noted (I think it was Bailey - the audio wasn’t great at this point) that they recognize the need to get their nominated ticket on all 50 state ballots, and they also recognize that the two major parties have constructed laws in all states that make it extremely difficult for third parties to get in the game. (He didn’t use the word “rigged,” but I will.)

So there’s no shiny happy podium-thumping about the project. They’re going to have to work hard to even get on the ballot, money is an issue, and at present, Bailey said they don’t even think they’re a political party. They have registered as a 527, but have asked the Federal Election Commission for some guidance on what kind of organization they really are.

They say their biggest concern is the direction of the country. Gov. King indicated that their primary goal is to draw attention back to the mainstream voter, who is pretty much unrepresented at the moment. “The process is not working, and we want to open up that process and move it back toward the center.”

2. However, U08 seems to believe that it can win under the right circumstances. King joked that the secret to winning is in carefully selecting your opponent, and Jordan says the group believes that neither major party is likely to nominate a candidate that will inspire enthusiasm among mainstream voters.

Jordan: “We wouldn’t be in it if we thought the parties would nominate centrists, but we don’t think that will happen. Instead, they’re going to promote issues that divide country. We really want to make a difference.”

U08 offered a couple actual third-party cases from history – Ross Perot and Teddy Roosevelt – and Jordan also suggested that the 2000 election posed a potential winning third-party scenario that was never realized. “If you could have put Colin Powell on the ballot in autumn of that year – and that was before he aligned with Bush and supported the war – I think a plurality would have voted for him. There was no enthusiasm for either candidate. We saw the same lack of enthusiasm again in 2004.

“We do think we can win with a bipartisan ticket if we can speak to the great issues being ignored.”

King said “we’re absolutely serious. Our chances of winning depend on which direction the parties go in, and they ignore us at their peril.”

3. U08 feels that past third-party efforts have posted significant results. Jordan noted that in 1992 Perot actually looked like he had a chance after the debates, with some pollsters having him in the lead. His on-again/off-again candidacy (remember his paranoia over the idea that his daughter was being followed?) hurt him, but he still pulled 20 million votes.

Strock offered Theodore Roosevelt as an illustration of how a ticket might win even in defeat. “It’s all about best way to serve the public. In 1912, Roosevelt ran as a Bull Moose against Wilson and Taft. He lost the election, but both parties shifted in his direction, and Wilson wound up enacting most of the policies that Roosevelt proposed.”

4. U08 feels that technology is a major key to the 2008 election. As Jordan observes, “Perot didn’t have the Internet. The Net gives us a chance at pulling it off.”

While many (Lullaby Pit included) have blamed the Net for helping polarize the electorate, Bailey thinks the real culprit has been television. “Gerald Rafshoon and I started a book on TV politics a couple years ago. We thought we were retiring from politics, so now would be a good time to write a book. That’s when we realized that those of us in politics for the last 20 years had allowed TV to run right over us.” He said that only once in his entire career did he ever hear a reporter ask how television might be used to improve democracy.

“This new set of technologies will change things again, and dramatically,” he said. “So the question is, how can we use new technologies to change democracy. One way is to enable people en masse to pick the candidates for president.

“We’re going to hold an online convention where those in middle, not just voters in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina, will be able to decided who the candidates will be.”

5. U08's notion that they might actually be able to beat certain combos of Dem and GOP candidates is more than a little intriguing. Say, hypothetically, both parties go toward the fringe or nominate polarizing candidates – let’s imagine Hillary vs. Frist (or Jeb, or anybody else from the evangelical/ideological wing). And let’s theorize that McCain comes to his damned senses before he crawls any further under the covers with Jerry Falwell.

Now recall, McCain had better numbers among Dems and Independents than he did with Republicans. So he smells the coffee and gives U08 a call. Winds up paired with somebody like John Edwards (who’s a lawyer, to be sure, but a charming one). Or maybe you get somebody like Mark Warner on the ticket with a Rudy Giuliani. (I like this one even better. There are things I admire and respect about McCain, but when I actually think about his positions on issues, his willingness to whore himself to things he can’t possibly believe, and his gutlessness in rolling over for the people who raped his character in a previous election... let’s just say I think I like the romantic idea of McCain a lot better than I would the cold reality).

If this happens, and U08 gets its t’s crossed and i’s dotted, mid- to late-2008 might give us some of the most interesting political theater we’ve seen in awhile.

6. The idea about Perot and the Internet is especially interesting. Given the cowboy character of significant parts of the blogosphere, you have to wonder what kind of hay Perot could have made if he’d access to something like Howard Dean’s Net operation from 2004.

It’s probably clear that I’m on board with the Unity08 concept, and time will tell how the reality plays out. Meanwhile, Jordan himself made the salient point of the day: “It’s easy for people to get in – just sign up. You can leave if you don’t like what we’re doing. And you can leave and go back to the Democrats or Republicans if they nominate a candidate you like. We’re building a platform for discussion, for debate, and ultimately to select a person who will address our problems. This is THE question we have to address to be viable in next 12-18 months.”

Now Playing: Sex Is Not The Enemy by Garbage
ultimate_seekerultimate_seeker on May 30th, 2006 06:19 pm (UTC)
Well, as usual, you have infected my mind with something worth while. U08 has my support. After reading the info on the website, I have decided that this is where all the under-represented voters in this country should go. Wish I could have been online to hear the comments myself.

Had to do an interview for work. Oh well, I'm sure there'll be more.

In the Dharma.
islandstorm on May 30th, 2006 08:43 pm (UTC)
Added you to me F-list.
Samlullabypit on May 31st, 2006 04:09 am (UTC)
Back at you.
cwmackowskicwmackowski on May 30th, 2006 11:47 pm (UTC)
I had the chance to cover Angus's first gubenatorial campaign. I had a big coverage area in a rural part of the state, and a huge share of the listeners in the market, so Angus's campaign worked my station pretty hard. I can say from experience that he's a shrewd politician, a great grass-roots campaigner, and a likeable guy.

I'd love to learn more about U08. I feel like one of those middle-of-the-road voters who has no party to represent him and who felt lukewarm about the candidates in each of the past two elections.
Samlullabypit on May 31st, 2006 04:10 am (UTC)
Hit their Web site and stay tuned here. I'll be posting whatever I can get my hands on.
(Anonymous) on May 31st, 2006 01:01 pm (UTC)
About Hillary
Since when is Hillary, whose signature issue is health care, by the way, not a moderate? She was present at the creation the DLC which was founded for the purpose of making the Democratic party less liberal. She is cut from the same cloth as Edwards and Warner, who are also DLC members. Dean, for that matter, governed Vermont as a moderate, indeed, as a conservative Democrat, intensely focused on bread and butter issues like health care; his gay rights bill that attracted a great deal of attention came only as a result of a direct order from the state supreme court. There are people in the Democratic party who are coherently left wing: Feingold and Kennedy come to mind. Hillary Clinton is just not one of them.

The notion that McCain and Edwards, or Warner and Guiliani would agree on anything policy wise, or agree to part ways with their parties to form tickets like that is also laughable. McCain specifically scorned such talk in 2004.

Also, Roosevelt wasn't a bipartisan moderate. While he had views not strictly in line with either party, he put himself at the helm of a well developed coherent ideological movement, the Progressive movement, that already existed, and in support of its ideas was, if anything, an extremist.
Samlullabypit on May 31st, 2006 01:06 pm (UTC)
Re: About Hillary
I'm less worried about whether the term "moderate" applies to Hil. At some level, you could probably apply the term to somebody who was communist on five issues and fascist on the other five, making them middle of the road on average.

I'm more concerned about a couple issues where Hil is acting like a fringe righty. She voted for the war and she thinks Grand Theft Auto is a policy issue.

Priot to that, I was really hoping she might be the next president. Now I'm hoping she goes away before she elects Jeb Bush.
JenForUnityjenforunity on October 1st, 2006 03:37 am (UTC)
Yay for serendipitous Google searches!
I was googling around trying to find "citable leftist criticisms of Unity08" for the wikipedia article on Unity08 and instead ran across something way cooler: this summary :-)

I've been trying to set up a "Unity08 Wiki" to serve as a clearing house for Unity08 info and a place to do political coordination when things kick into high gear for the 2008 elections that's the ultimate target.

Do you mind if I copy and paste this into the Unity Wiki article on this teleconference? Or would you be willing to do it? The idea would be to let anyone who heard the teleconference write up a summary of it that they all agreed on... the teleconference after this one already has a write up because I actually heard that one and took notes... this would be a nice match to it.
Samlullabypit on October 1st, 2006 12:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Yay for serendipitous Google searches!
Sure - go for it. Just give me credit and all is cool.

There was another guy who did a review, too, and now I'm damned if I can remember who he was. He's written about U08 a couple times since that I know of. If it comes to me I'll let you know.

Are you part of the U08 team?
JenForUnityjenforunity on October 2nd, 2006 09:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Yay for serendipitous Google searches!
Thanks :-) And I'm not one of the "Unity08 insiders" or whatever.

I just got enthusiastic about the potential of the thing if it ever takes off and gets "out of control and revolutionary".

I'm sorta official in having put some actual effort into starting some genuine "netroots" webpages to balance the controlled and top down unity08 site itself. There's a livejournal community (with no members because I'm totally not tapped into the LJ scene), a unity supporters web forum with a core group of like 5 posters and 90 other "swing bys", and the Unity Wiki I mentioned above. I took a "if you build it they will come" approach and it's not like a mad rush but there's a definite trickle of people. I'm hoping it works sorta exponentially, in ones and twos for now, in tens and twenties later, in thousands and millions by 2008. Or something :-)

So... committed to *actually doing stuff* but not official.

Samlullabypit on October 2nd, 2006 10:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Yay for serendipitous Google searches!
I see. I like that spirit.

If you decide you'd like to link in with the U08 folks let me know (e-mail sam at lullabypit dot com). The organization's president is a good friend, and I know they want to support people like however they can.
(Anonymous) on February 9th, 2007 04:32 pm (UTC)
It's realy great thing! You only think a some - you can get everything only by clicking pictures - all thet is inet! And i'm glad that your site is part of this massive all the world network!
Samlullabypit on February 9th, 2007 04:33 pm (UTC)
Re: hello
Thanks. We do our best.
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