Unity\'08 and Major Strategic Blunders

Despite getting some fairly major props from David Broder recently, it seems that the fledgling political movement, Unity'08 isn't actually doing all that well. For those of you not familiar with the project (and given their numbers, I'd guess that that particular set contains just about everyone), Unity'08 aims to overcome a general disenchantment with the two-party system. To this end, they have set three goals:

1. Goal One is the election of a Unity Ticket for President and Vice-President of the United States in 2008 – headed by a woman and/or man from each major party or by an independent who presents a Unity Team from both parties.
2. Goal Two is for the people themselves to pick that Unity Ticket in the first half of 2008 – via a virtual and secure online convention in which all American voters will be qualified to vote.
3. Goal Three, our minimum goal, is to effect major change and reform in the 2008 national elections by influencing the major parties to adopt the core features of our national agenda. With a group of voters who comprise at least 20% of the national electorate, we feel confident that our voters will decide the 2008 election.

The group set its sights on 10 to 20 million voters at its online convention, reasoning that that sort of support would get its candidate(s) taken seriously. Probably they are right in that assessment. The problem, however, is that so far, they have only 35,000 people signed up. As Whiskey Fire gleefully quips:

Jeez, I bet a smart young advertising professional could get more than 35,000 people to sign an online petition for "Federline '08." Or "Aphids '08." Or the "Dysentery Ticket." Or the "Nigerian Inheritance Party."

Now I could write a well-reasoned analysis of why Unity'08 is such a silly idea. But that would (a) require a lot of effort, and (b) not end up being entirely true. It strikes me that it's at least an interesting idea, one which has the potential to bring together a pair of candidates who manage between them some good fiscal sense, a decent social policy, and some sort of coherent foreign policy. I don't think that there's any chance whatsoever that said candidate(s) could, like, actually win an election. Perhaps more plausibly, however, a run of this sort might help to shift the terms of the debate for '12. That's not enough to make me vote for a Unity'08 candidate, but it's enough for me to support such a run.

Which brings me to my main point: unlike those who write about Unity'08 from a nice lofty pundit's chair, I know the inside scoop -- the real reason why Unity'08 has failed to take off. You see, back in late November, Unity'08 had the chance to hire one of the best young (okay, reasonably young) political writers around. Someone who is widely known for his quick wit, his penetrating intellect, his elegant prose, and his ability to construct pretty parallel sentences. The writer who has convinced NC farm kids that they ought to be vegetarians, the one who has made Anselm intelligible to freshmen, and the one who once convinced a leftist to take Hayek more seriously. The most promising talent since...well, it's really hard to think of a parallel when so few others measure up. And we haven't even gotten to his rugged good looks or his deep appreciation of the relative merits of Laphroaig and Maker's Mark.

So instead of discussing the amazing successes of the Unity'08 project, we'll be left to wonder: What would have happened if they'd picked that guy?

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