More on Unity08 and Michael Bloomberg

Here’s the text of the e-mail Unity08 just sent out. It pretty much confirms the rumors we’ve been hearing and what we just reported.

One of our principles at the outset of this audacious project was transparency and openness. Too often in our recent political history, what you see has not been what you get.

For this reason, we are writing you today to lay out the current status of Unity08 and its possible paths going forward.

First, however, it’s important to reflect upon what we have accomplished together in shaping the current political discussion and building a sense of what is possible in this crucial election year. Two of our core ideas, the importance of a centrist, bi-partisan approach to the solving of our nation’s problems and the possibility of an independent, unity ticket for the presidency, have already come from far-out to mainstream.

Barack Obama, for example, has made the theme of unity and the necessity of bridging the partisan divide an absolutely central theme of his campaign. And just last week, a group of former and present national office holders comprised of independents, Republicans and Democrats met in Oklahoma for the sole purpose of stating their belief that at the present perilous moment, a unity government is the only hope of solving the nation’s mounting problems. When you find agreement between the likes of former RNC chairman Bill Brock and Gary Hart, you’re onto something.

And, of course, waiting in the wings should the divide persist, is the potential of a serious non-partisan candidacy in the person of the Mayor of New York (two of our founders, Doug Bailey and Gerald Rafshoon, have stepped down from the board and may have more to say about their plans in the near future).

Waiting in the wings, should the divide persist, is the potential of a serious non-partisan candidacy by Mike Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York (two of our founders, Doug Bailey and Gerald Rafshoon, have stepped down from the board and may have more to say about their plans in the near future).

Can Unity08 take full credit for these remarkable developments? Of course not. But through this website, your active involvement, innumerable news stories, op-eds, and public appearances by friends like Sam Waterston, we certainly have helped to bring these ideas to the forefront of the current political discussion.

So in a larger sense, we have accomplished a major portion of what we set out to do. But in the specifics and logistics, we have fallen short.

At the current moment, we don’t have enough members or enough money to take the next step toward achieving ballot access in 50 states, reaching the goal of establishing our online convention, and nominating a Unity ticket for president and vice president this coming fall.

The past year has taught us that it’s tough to rally millions for a process without a candidate or an issue. In the past, third party movements that have broken through the monopoly of the established parties have always been based on a person (Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 or Ross Perot in the last decade) or a burning issue (slavery in the case of the insurgent Republican party in 1860). Motivating people to fix a broken system that drives candidates to the extremes by creating something more inclusive and sensible has proven to be a lot harder than we expected.

And the Federal Election Commission hasn’t helped. The Commission has taken the position that we are subject to their jurisdiction (even though two United States Supreme Court decisions hold exactly opposite) and, therefore, that we are limited to $5000 contributions from individuals (even though the Democratic and Republican Parties are able to receive $25,000 from individuals). Needless to say, this position by the FEC effectively limited our fundraising potential, especially in the crucial early going when we needed substantial money fast to get on with ballot access and the publicity necessary to build our membership.

We were caught in a peculiar catch-22; we wanted to break the dependence on big money by getting lots of small contributions from millions of members, but needed some up-front big money to help generate the millions of members to make the small contributions. And the FEC (in effect, an arm of the parties) didn’t let that happen. We have challenged this ruling in the federal courts, but are still awaiting a decision and time is running out.

And so reluctantly, especially given the volatility of the present situation, we’re forced to scale back, but not cease our operations, and suspend our ballot access project. Our website will become less interactive (it takes staff to answer hundreds of e-mails a day) and we can’t in good faith make the $5 million commitment necessary to make a serious start on ballot access.

But we’re not closing our doors. We believe it is important to see our case against the FEC through (both for Unity08 and any similar movement in the future) and be ready to gear up if (when) we win our case and political circumstances warrant later this spring. Unity is in the air right now, and Mayor Bloomberg seems poised to run on his own campaign (and the fact is that two independent candidacies wouldn’t work) if the parties leave the sensible center open. But all this could change in a matter of weeks.

We still believe strongly that we have the right idea, but it just might (emphasize “might” because who knows what can happen in the next month) not be the right time. In the meantime, a sincere, profound thanks for your help, involvement and support so far and please keep pushing for the simple, but very powerful, idea that solutions to our nation’s problems are going to take ideas and hard work from all Americans, and that a political system whose stock-in-trade is division may well be the biggest problem of all.

Please know that you have already made a difference and are at the forefront of a movement that may yet save the country.

Robert Bingham
Angus King
Peter Ackerman
Zach Clayton
Lindsay Ullman

Board of Directors, Unity08

8 Responses to “More on Unity08 and Michael Bloomberg”

  1. Tom Blanton Says:

    What are they going to save the country from? Differing opinions and ideas?

    I’m glad to see Unity08 scaling back. At a time when America needs to make some radical changes, raging centrists each trying to be more moderate than the next would only empower bureaucrats.

  2. Stephen Tash Says:

    What is so great about a “moderate” ticket when the two sides of this moderation are corporate-run parties which are on the right and far right from a world standpoint? They argue back and forth, but do you see them fail to implement a corporate agenda? No.

    The Democrats complain about the war and how its handled left and right, but then turn around and refuse to take action against the war and Hillary Clinton cosponsored a bill to give Bush full power to go to war against Iran at will, despite constitutional regulations that the Congress shall have full power in declaring war. The republicans are dragging their feet on healthcare, but even the Democratic health bills amount to little less than corporate welfare. Then you want to help them pass this all the faster? Try something moderate on a world scale and we’ll see how that turns out.

  3. Jason C Says:

    I can’t wait unil he goes away. I have a serious question for his supporters. Do any of you particularily enjoy watching him debate? Do you find yourself cringing when he begins answering questions and addressing issues? I’m just curioius if he Partisan Paul crowd see what other see.

    Albeit, some of his rhetoric is pleasing to anyone who is a student of history and the constitution but beyond that, he is really quite miserable to watch. He is so distracting and you find yourself tuning him out because of his whiny voice going in and out and to his jerky, quirky, body language. He is by far the worst debater I think have ever watched.

    I’ve often wondered if he was blessed with a different body and set of vocl chords would he fair better…I still doubt it.

  4. Nick Says:

    I think if he were blessed with a Mitt Romney’s appearance he would be leading by far in the GOP race. His quirkyness and speaking ability is holding him back. I think he knows this but he’s trying anyway. Can’t ask for much more than that. I don’t think he will win but I support him anyway. The longer he lasts, the longer the message is out there. 20 years from now, the fruit of this field may ripen.

  5. Sean Scallon Says:

    If it becomes a McCain-Clinton race, I think we’ll know in a few weeks if it will be, then Bloomberg will run. If Obama is still in it, the he won’t.

  6. Austin Cassidy Says:

    I wonder if they feared that holding an Online Convention would just make it easy for Ron Paul to come along and jump into the ready-made ballot access machine.

  7. paul Says:

    My thoughts exactly.

  8. Tom the Trotskyist Says:

    I will only support Bloomberg if Hillary is the Dem nominee. Otherwise, if Bloomberg runs he will be a traitor to the grand socialist revolution for which Unity 08’s online convention would have been a major start.

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