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Jim VandeHei’s Idea for Third Party Possibly Led by Mark Zuckerberg Isn’t Going Over Well

Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei wrote a very well-intentioned column yesterday calling for a third-party alternative for people who like the idea of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, just not the messengers.

“Normal America is right,” he wrote in The Wall Street Journal, “that Establishment America has grown fat, lazy, conventional and deserving of radical disruption. And the best, perhaps only way to disrupt the establishment is by stealing a lot of Donald Trump’s and Bernie Sanders’s tricks and electing a third-party candidate.”

Here’s a brief list of qualities VandeHei thinks such a third-party candidate should embody:

The ideal candidate would write a very specific agenda in normal, conversational language, not whatever nonsensical language today’s political class was taught to speak… and exploit cable TV’s addiction to whatever is hot and new.

Exploit the fear factor. The candidate should be from the military or immediately announce someone with modern-warfare expertise or experience as running mate. People are scared… Do it with very muscular language—there is no market for nuance in the terror debate.

Use the Internet revolution for the greater good. Social media allows us to tweet our every thought, snap our every mood and Facebook our every fantasy, but it hasn’t done much to create shared purpose. We have breathtaking technology to find a ride or a date with the swipe of a screen. Those same innovators could help create a “National App” to match every kid who needs a mentor with a mentor, every person who wants to volunteer with someone or some group in need; every veteran with people and companies who want to reward his or her service with thanks, help or a job.

He proposed “The Innovation Party” as a name for such a movement and suggested it be headed by Mark Zuckerberg or Sheryl Sandberg or Michael Bloomberg.

It didn’t exactly get the best reception:

And here are just a highlight of the headlines people have written in response to the op-ed:

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 3.45.11 PM
(WaPo)

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 3.46.23 PM
(Slate)

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 3.47.22 PM
(HuffPost)

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 3.50.11 PM
(Esquire)

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 3.51.12 PM
(Reason)

And if you want an idea of the kind of specific blowback VandeHei is getting, here’s a highlight from Jason Linkins‘ HuffPost piece:

VandeHei’s vision of a third-party candidate is a Vladimir Putin type who’s fun on Twitter and can hold court at the Aspen Ideas Festival (specifically with Ideas about how to maximize the efficiency of drone killings)…

[He] would build out his third party on the “thinkfluencer” class, who are currently the most overserved and privileged people on the planet, and he’d give this party the permission to toss out the Constitution wherever it saw fit. This would indeed “disrupt” the “establishment,” if by “establishment” we mean democratic norms.

And over at Vox, Dylan Matthews has some questions, including the following:

VandeHei suggests Mark Zuckerberg as a potential leader of the Innovation Party. Is VandeHei aware that Zuckerberg is 31 years old and thus constitutionally ineligible to run for president this year?

What does VandeHei imagine the Innovation Party president doing upon taking office? Why would a Republican or Democratic Congress ever pass his initiatives? Is VandeHei assuming that members of Congress would defect and form an Innovation Party caucus? Why would they do that? How would Congress function with three parties, especially if none of them has a majority? Suppose there are 45 Democratic, 45 Republican, and 10 Innovation Party senators. Wouldn’t that give the Innovation Party a perverse amount of influence over who runs the Senate? Isn’t that undemocratic?

[image via screengrab]

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Follow Josh Feldman on Twitter: @feldmaniac

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