- Group headed by prominent Republican and Democratic leadersby Sam Smith
- 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."
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.