Unity08 launch targets the American mainstream

*** A Lullaby Pit exclusive ***

New Political Organization Seeks to Elect Bipartisan “Unity Ticket” in ‘08

– Group headed by prominent Republican and Democratic leaders
– Poll: 85 percent say country so polarized that Washington solve nation’s problems
– Ticket to be chosen via first-ever online convention
– “…everybody we’ve talked to outside the political establishement gets it immediately.”

by Sam Smith
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
8:00 am EDT

Denver, CO – A prominent group of centrist political activists who have become disenchanted with the increasing polarization of American politics today launched a new initiative called Unity ’08. This effort has as its primary mandate to present voters an “alternative ticket…headed by a woman and/or man from each major party, or by an independent who presents a Unity Team from both parties. By electing a Unity Ticket to the White House, Unity08 plans to force the country’s Democratic and Republican leaders to cease their runaway focus on the issues of outlying special-interest groups and once again align with the aspirations and will of average Americans.”

The group’s founding council includes Hamilton Jordan, former White House Chief of Staff in the Carter Administration; Doug Bailey, former GOP political consultant and founder of The Hotline; Angus King, former two-term Independent Governor of Maine; Peter Ackerman, managing director of Rockport Capital and chairman of Freedom House; Janet Kelly, former general counsel at Kellogg and Sara Lee; Tom Collier, partner at Steptoe & Johnson; and Jim Jonas, a one-time political activist who’s now a partner at Peak Creative Media in Denver. The council also includes prominent student leaders from several American universities.

Speaking for the group, Jonas told Lullaby Pit that recent conversations with friends and former colleagues inside the Beltway have convinced him of the importance of Unity08. “They all kind of shook their heads when they heard about the idea and told me I just didn’t ‘get it.’ But absolutely everybody we’ve talked to outside the political establishment gets it immediately. They’ll hear about 10 seconds of what we have to say and then it’s ‘I’m in.’ All they want to know is how they can be involved.

“We think this reaction is typical of how most Americans feel these days.”

Jonas points to the results of a new Princeton Survey Research Associates poll, which found that 85 percent of Americans think the country has become so polarized that Washington can’t make progress on the nation’s problems. It also found that 73 percent would like to have more choices in the 2008 elections than just Republican and Democratic candidates. And 63 percent are interested in a ticket featuring a prominent Republican and a prominent Democrat, he says.

One of the major problems Unity08 sees is the increasing attention each party gives to peripheral issues. Jonas explains that “while issues like gay marriage, abortion and gun control are certainly important to many citizens, they’re not crucial issues. Most Americans realize that we need to focus first on the core issues that are most critical in shaping the nation’s future: education, energy independence, deficit spending, global terrorism, health care, and nuclear proliferation.”

Unity08 isn’t endorsing any particular candidates at this point, and Jonas was adamant in saying that they don’t really have anybody in particular in mind. “This isn’t about putting somebody specific in the White House. It’s simply about forcing our leaders to start paying attention to the concerns of the majority of the country.”

That said, Jonas emphasizes that Unity08 isn’t gearing up for moral victories or spoiler activities. “We have a viable platform and we’re speaking on behalf of millions and millions of voters who feel disenfranchised by two decades of fringe politics. It would be a huge mistake to underestimate what this movement is about.”

Jonas encourages interested citizens to log on to unity08.com for more information.



17 thoughts on “Unity08 launch targets the American mainstream

  1. I don’t see the part in their FAQ that says, “Are you for real?” Clearly this was an accidental omission.
    Seriously, I don’t mean to sound mean. It’s a great idea. If a Unity ticket appears on my ballot in 2008 I might very well vote for it. It would save me from having to hold my nose and crawl into bed with some other candidates I dislike a great deal more.
    But they aren’t electable. I don’t think enough voters would swing to them because there is still far too much of a “you’d be throwing away your vote” mentality (and the big parties encourage it to stay that way). I think we will have to get a LOT more collectively disgruntled before enough people say “What the hell” and vote for something like this. I was hoping that 2008 would be the year we all decide we are fed up to here with the status quo, but now I don’t think it is.
    The way most Americans FEEL and the way most Americans ACT are two widely divergent things.

  2. Their goal isn’t to get elected. I mean, if they do, they’ll take it, I’m sure. Their goal is to influence the process and drag both parties back from the fringes.

  3. I think it’s a great idea as a consensus-making and unifying body–but I’ll have to see how it works. If Unity 08 can focus on the issues–and force candidates to focus on the REAL issues–then I am all for it. But we don’t need any more distractions–we have enough of those. I’ll pay attention and see where it goes.

  4. Good Plan!
    actually anything is better than where we are currently.
    When more peole vote for American Idol than for President we’re in deep trouble.
    Hey! Maybe we should do a reality TV show based on American Idol to elect the next president?
    Jesus…I wrote that as a joke, then I realized that it would actually work…we’re really in trouble here…

  5. Unity08
    Well, I’m in, but, hell, that only means that things are bad enough that I’m willing to give up being the tweedy fringe long enough to try to save the country.

  6. Not a friggin’ prayer!!!
    From J. Stephen O’Brien:
    Let’s start with the facts as I see them:
    1. The US is a new thing in the world — a demagoguery. In ancient Greece, democracies broke down into oligarchies because the demagogues came to control the democracies. In the modern US, the oligarchs control the demagogues and use them to maintain their power. They do this with the money it takes to control the means of conveying messages. The oligogues don’t need to take control of democracies through exercise of coercive force; they simply buy votes the way marketers talk about buying customers.
    2. The oligogues succeed because they understand that fear of loss beats hope of gain any day of the week. So, they focus on those issues that most raise people’s fears: losing their jobs, being attacked by terrorists, being raped by gays, being attacked by a criminal without having a gun handy and what have you. They also play on fears of things that don’t exist, like the fear of having your entire estate of $1.99 eaten up by estate taxes.
    3. In any political battle between those who appeal to the intellect and those who appeal to the emotions, the ones appealing to the emotions win. 50% of Americans are of below average intelligence. You’re not going to get to that 50% talking about the effects of deficits on foreign capital, trade imbalances, interest rates and the like. You’re going to get to that 50% by scaring hell out of them that your opponents are going to lead them into penury, death at the hands of terorists, rape of their children, or having to wear white shoes after Labor Day.
    4. Since the whole system runs on having the money needed to buy media time (or to buy a network like Fox), it doesn’t matter who is running. The candidates will have to raise money, which will obligate them to those with lots of money. In other words, the oligarchs. It’s simply a matter of choosing your oligarchs.
    5. Finally, this is nice in theory, but what will the platform actually look like? Will it call for sacrifice now in order to put the US back into financial order? If so, how will they do that? Higher taxes? On whom? Fewer expenditures? On what? The old Democrats used to use give aways to build coalitions. The new Republicans now use tax cuts. We’ve gone from tax-and-spend liberals to something-for-nothing Republicans. When the actual platform is published, expect all that “in theory” wonderful support to evaporate.
    Sorry to be so cynical. I’d like to believe, but I can’t.

  7. Re: Not a friggin’ prayer!!!
    I don’t feel a real need to be locked and loaded right now. If the two parties actually nominate somebody that represents the views of the American mainstream, then we don’t really need unity08, and they say as much themselves. Right now, what I care about is what can be done to cause the power in this country to start paying attention to something besides the insanely narrow interests of the 10% fringe.
    At this particular moment in time, I’m grateful that experienced people with some savvy about raising resources share my concern.

  8. They’re ambitious…but I like it
    Columbina, I respectfully disagree. The numbers clearly indicate otherwise. 85% of Americans think Washington is too polarized, 73% want alternatives, and 63% would like a split ticket…wow. That’s some serious political capital. The only reason the “wasted vote” mentality exists is because no one has ever provided us with something different. If Unity08 can organize their support [which they clearly have] there’s no stoppin em.
    Besides, I’ve always voted for one of the major parties, and frankly, they make me feel as if my vote is wasted.
    Unity 08…they’re ambitious….but I like it. -Gulick

  9. They’ve got more than just a prayer.
    1, 2, 3, and 4 all reasons to support Unity 08. As for number 5, it appears the platform is designed by voters who register online with the group. That’s preferable to the Republican/Democratic platforms contrived, not for the betterment of the country, but to get someone elected. Issues first, personality second, its what the country needs. They’ll need to provide serious online security to ensure an honest platform, but hell, I do my banking online, why cant I elect my president?
    They’re crazy, but I think they’ve got a shot. I’ll be keeping my eye on them.

  10. progressives ought to vote progressive, not create a new party
    “while issues like gay marriage, abortion and gun control are certainly important to many citizens, they’re not crucial issues. Most Americans realize that we need to focus first on the core issues that are most critical in shaping the nation’s future: education, energy independence, deficit spending, global terrorism, health care, and nuclear proliferation.”
    I completely respect and share the viewpoint of the “unity08” people, but it seems to me that its new platform is what democrats such as myself are striving to solidify for this nation’s progressive party. “Gay marriage, abortion and gun control” are all wedge issues that Republican’s have thrown into the mix and distracted us with. The neo-con idealogues running the country are the ones diametrically opposed to what Unity appears to stand for. Progressives consistently push to highlight issues such as “education, energy independence”, sprawling deficits, the world’s need for American diplomatic leadership, universal health care, and nuclear proliferation. These issues are already absolute staples for liberals in this country. Why create a new party when the Dems are already poised to re-take Congress and the White House from those who have single-handedly polarized the discourse?

  11. Re: progressives ought to vote progressive, not create a new party
    I understand your point. And I agree that many of the “wedge” issues have been perpetuated by the right to galvanize support. However, the left has been weak at providing the country with an alternative. When Bush came out with his crazy idea to privatize social security (which many see as progressive) the left opposed without offering a better solution. What happened? The issue died. Thats regressive if you ask me. Bush has created a debacle in Iraq (putting it mildly) and all I hear from the left is that they want a timetable. Fine, but thats not a long term solution to global terrorism. And nothing is happening with health care. The Senate majority leader is an accomplished medical doctor, and yet there’s nothing substantial on the floor addressing the litany of problems with our healthcare system. Thats egregious. Finally, education! I’m a public school teacher in DC. There’s more money allocated per pupil in DC public schools than anywhere else in the country, and yet we rank the lowest for quality education. I’d like to tell the Dems that its not just about raising taxes, and I’d like to tell the Republicans that they should give a damn. In short, the Republicans are crazy, the Democrats are empty, and neither are progressive. Unity 08….count me in.

  12. More Choices
    I would throw away my vote to almost any independent candidate in a heartbeat.
    I no longer see any difference to the 2 parties. I call them the Republicrats. Both parties have strayed so far away from the mainstream that neither does a single thing for the very people that do all of the actual work in this country. There is a good reason that politicians are considered lower on the totem pole than even a used car salesman.
    When you are inherently lazy, well educated, privileged and not so bothered by conscience, politics seem to be just a natural fit.
    There has never been a more urgent time in this countries short life for a shift back to the middle, a shift back to logic and reason is the only way forward.
    At a time when technology is moving at breakneck speed is no time for incompetent or superficial leadership. Mistakes multiply way too fast.

  13. Except
    I agree about the disparity between feeling and acting being the state of things normally (the exception being in states like mine, Maine, or Minnesota, where independents can actually carry the vote–we have independent governors all the time.) But are these normal times? No. Last time everyone felt one way about W and acted another, this happened. SO maybe there’s a chance now.

  14. the polarization poll
    Can someone provide a source for the claim that 85% of americans believe Congress/Washington is too polarized to solve our problems?

  15. Re: the polarization poll
    Not sure I understand the question. The sources is what it says: “the results of a new Princeton Survey Research Associates poll.”

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