Political scientists point to Ross Perot's folksy "get under the hood" campaign as a major influence on deficit reduction through the rest of the 1990s.
Americans Elect, which is applying in states as a political party but operates legally as a nonprofit 501(c) 4 social welfare organization.
"The only political philosophy we have is that people should be greater than parties," Elliot Ackerman, an Iraq War veteran and centrist who serves as the group's chief operating officer, told the Los Angeles Times.
The group has on its board former CIA chief William Webster, Republican strategist Mark McKinnon and pollster Doug Schoen. In many ways, it is taking a different route than the insurgent tea party movement, which used the Republican primaries as a crowbar to elect a batch of small government conservatives to hold the line on federal spending.
Americans Elect, on the other hand, is more formalized, intending to guide the direction of the country by direct participation as it seeks to build a new coalition and break the two-party monopoly that has dominated Washington since the demise of the Whigs in the mid-19th century.