Building the perfect beast

America Elects
By AL DIAMON  |  February 8, 2012

There are a few acceptable reasons for keeping your identity a secret. Such as:

• The mob is looking for you in connection with your grand jury testimony.
• You've just won the lottery, and you have a lot of freeloading relatives.
• You're Batman.

That's about it. Everybody else who deliberately hides behind a cloak of anonymity does so out of a muddled combination of conspiracy and cowardice.

Which brings us to America Elects, a national political party that recently qualified to put its presidential ticket on the Maine ballot.

Except America Elects claims it's not a political party. It says it's just a beneficent non-profit organization that, unlike the Democrats or Republicans, doesn't have to disclose where it gets its money.

Once and future independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler, who's a member of the group's board of directors, has an excuse for that. Cutler told the Bangor Daily News the donors "were afraid of retribution."

From La Cosa Nostra?

From Uncle Ernie?

From the Joker?

Uh, no. Cutler said the source of that retribution would be the established political parties, who don't want anyone else intruding on their turf. The GOP and Dem establishment could make life difficult for the wealthy hedge-fund managers who are alleged to be the financial underpinnings of America Elects by . . . I dunno . . . maybe approving a tax hike on wealthy hedge-fund managers — except for the ones who contribute to Democrats and Republicans.

Yeah, that must be it.

There's one other problem with America Elects. It doesn't actually have a presidential ticket. Those people who are donating money are doing so without a clue as to what sort of candidates they'll be backing.

Actually, that's sort of like being a Mitt Romney supporter.

AE plans to hold an online convention this spring, which will allow participants to choose its nominees. But to deter people like me who might mess up this populist process by casting their ballots for Batman, the choices will be limited to those approved by the official candidate-sorting-out committee of the party — oops, I meant to say the non-profit organization that only incidentally resembles a party.

To date, this group has given no indication as to who'll make the cut, except that the final twosome will have to include one Democrat and one Republican (presumably, not the kind inclined to exact retribution on AE's funding sources) or one Dem and one independent or one member of the GOP and an unenrolled person. In other words, the organization is committed to a ticket that includes two people who disagree with each other on their fundamental approaches to governing.

Which isn't that different from the Obama administration.

Cutler has modestly admitted that he won't be a candidate for either president or vice president, possibly because no sane person has ever expressed any interest in him doing so. Instead, he'll be devoting his time to pretending he's not running for governor again in 2014.

As for why he's messing around with America Elects, Cutler told the MaineToday Media newspapers, "We are seeing an alarming shrinkage in the number of American people who are participating in the political process."

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