The secret that unlocked the computer revolution is a thing called binary code.
Binary basically means “two numbers.” Zero and one. All numbers and words can be expressed in binary code. That’s how computer chips work. They toggle from on to off, from positive to negative from zero to one at instantaneous speeds.
Here’s what my name, Thomas Brennan, looks like in binary:
So what has this to do with politics?
Logic. Binary is the basic expression of logic. Everything either is or it isn’t. All human decision making boils down to the ayes and the nays.
Either you do or you don’t.
That’s why we have two political parties in the United States. There’s nothing official about it. Nothing in the Constitution or laws limiting political activity to two parties. It’s just that every decision eventually comes down to doing or not doing.
In a democracy where the majority rules, you have to have a majority to do anything. “No” votes don’t have to agree with each other. If the majority votes “no,” it doesn’t happen.
The same is true in Presidential politics. The Constitution requires that the office of President goes to the candidate receiving a majority of the electoral votes.
If no candidate garners a majority of the Electoral College, the decision must be made by the House of Representatives. In the House, each state’s delegation has one vote.
As a result of its strong showing in the off year election of 2010, the Republican party controls a majority of 33 state delegations, while the Democrats control only 17, including the delegation from the District of Columbia. One state, Minnesota, has a divided delegation.
Enter Peter Ackerman.
Interesting fellow. Graduate of Colgate University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
He apparently made a lot of money as an investment banker with Drexel Burnham Lambert because he has had a lot of time to devote to idealistic causes.
Founding Chair of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. Chairman of the Board of Freedom House, a non governmental research and advocacy organization founded by Wendell Willke and Eleanor Roosevelt. Board Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a non-partisan, non-profit, foreign policy think tank.
In 1990, he went to England as a visiting scholar at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, after which he co-authored a couple of books and helped produce some television documentaries about non-violent political activity .
About a year ago, Ackerman plunked down five million dollars to launch Americans Elect, an effort to create a third political party in the United States which would draft its platform and nominate its candidate for President on the Internet.
It has a very sophisticated web site at www.americanselect.org.
Americans Elect has announced the goal of qualifying to place its candidates on the ballot in all fifty states, and they are well on the way.
Perhaps, just perhaps, Peter Ackerman will succeed where Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, George Wallace and Strom Thurman failed.
If Americans Elect can win enough electoral votes to deny a majority to either the Republican or Democratic candidate, the next President of the United States will be chosen by the Republicans in the House of Representatives.
Or, perhaps by a coalition of non-Tea party Republicans and Democrats.
Or, maybe, a coalition of Tea Party Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats.
Whatever the realignment of American politics, the irrefutable fact is that it takes a majority to govern. There are only two choices. Either you win or you lose.
Just like the Super Bowl.