It had such a bright future.

It enjoyed luminous media coverage, from such equally luminous visionaries (or is it visionless luminaries?) as Tom Friedman, and news organizations like Nice Polite Republicans (NPR).

But in the end, Americans Elect – the supposed online “movement” toward a centrist third party – became exactly what it deserved to become, and, I contend, what its founders always meant for it to become: Dead.

Maybe it’s because the Democrats readily fill the need for a centrist party.

Maybe it’s because Nutty McNutt nuts like Ron Paul and Buddy Roemer were among those drawing most of what precious little interest AE’s “nominating process” was attracting.

Or maybe it’s because the shady organization refused to reveal its funders.

Of course, AE mentions none of this in its online death notice:

“Americans Elect, from the outset, has been a rules-based process…”

Yeah – so rules-based, the founders made damn sure it was set up to legally avoid fiscal disclosure.

As the autopsies roll in, what I find most striking is what’s not being said: That it is entirely possible – nay, likely – that AE was never intended by its founders as anything but Internet-enabled veal-penning.

Think about it. If you’re a one-percenter – say, a junk-bond financier bent on protecting your liveilhood, like AE founder Peter Ackerman – what better way to maintain the status quo than to get a few friends together and pitch $35 million into a carefully orchestrated strategy for doing so? In the grand scheme of things, isn’t that a small small price to pay in ensuring the happy continuance of politics as usual? Sure it is.

And guess what?

It worked.

Despite its claims that participation in its online “nominating process” never reached the thresholds AE established, the organization claims about 4 million Americans chimed in on their Web site in one way or another since its founding. Even if this number is inflated – and given this “rules-based” organization’s aversion to disclosure, it likely is – it was worth their funders’ investment.

AE’s “failure” after all, has surely convinced many who visited the site a year ago, at the height of its hype – brimming with enthusiasm and that four-letter word (hope) – that resistance to the corporate parties is just plain futile, darn it all!

How sad is that, in terms of Americans’ political intelligence?

Those who believed AE would even put forth a candidate in the first place apparently never considered that people with $35 million to pour into such a dog-and-pony show could also afford research and surveys. Research and surveys which were crucial in ensuring the organization set a participation threshold that could not be met – even if we leap off the cliff and believe the numbers AE reported were real.

So, where does AE go from here?

Who the hell cares?

What matters is whether the carp who took their bait have learned from the experience.

Learned what? you might ask.

It’s simple, really: The last thing America needs is more centrism. We are already, and quite literally, too centrist for our people’s own good.

As the Occupy movement shows, Americans are responding in greater and greater numbers to the plight of real people – a plight created almost entirely by venture capitalists and financial industry types like those who set up AE.

The notion that an electoral effort – let alone a self-described “centrist” one – created by the vulture class would have any positive impact for working people at all was laughable when AE’s media onslaught first hit.

It is – but for the early AE enthusiasts who are now even more hopeless about creating an alternative to our corporate UniParty – all the more laughable now.

The model we need to follow is easy enough to find: Canada’s NDP has shown us the way.

Yes, it’s a huge mountain to climb, and that runs strongly counter to our immediate-gratification mindset.

But if we refuse to follow the trail the NDP has blazed, we have only ourselves to blame.

Anthony Noel is facilitator of the New Progressive Alliance.