July 19, 2023

No Labels

“Sen. Joe Manchin III gave few clues about his own 2024 plans during a town hall sponsored by the No Labels organization Monday evening in New Hampshire… The event was billed as the rollout of a new common sense booklet from No Labels, an organization that is seeking to promote centrist political agenda and wants to get ballot access across the country for what No Labels national co-chair and former Gov. Pat McCrory, R-N.C., described before Huntsman and Manchin took the stage as an ‘insurance policy.’” Roll Call

“No Labels signaled on Monday it will present a candidate for a third party presidential ticket by Super Tuesday if it’s clear by then the choices will be former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden — and if the group sees public support for an alternative.” Politico

Both sides criticize No Labels for espousing vague principles rather than concrete policies and argue that it does not have a natural constituency:

The event’s “ostensible purpose was to celebrate the release of a booklet called Common Sense which outlines its platform in, let’s say, broad terms. The page about Social Security concludes that the program’s long-term funding issues should be addressed by having ‘a president and a Congress with the courage to say that Social Security’s impending insolvency is a challenge that we can and must solve together’ and recommends the appointment of an ‘independent bipartisan deficit reduction commission.’…

“Asked on Tuesday what kind of ‘tough calls’ such a commission might recommend to actually reduce the deficit, Huntsman responded that ‘they could figure that out.’ While he did thereafter briefly raise the possibility of means testing Social Security beneficiaries, the group’s booklet also states that one of its guiding ‘commonsense’ principles is that ‘no one in retirement—or close to it—should face any benefit changes.’”
Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate

“No Labels’ principles are so calorie-free that its own leaders seem to have swallowed them without knowing what they’d eaten. Where it does have helpful suggestions — build more housing, stop deficit spending — it struggles to articulate how these goals will be achieved. After all, [it's] running a candidate for president, not proposing a concrete agenda to be passed by Congress…  

“For all its talk about civics, no one in the group seems to have considered that a victorious No Labels president would still have to deal with a Congress elected by a sharply divided country, with members answerable to constituents, not the No Labels board members.”
Andrew Cline, National Review

“The No Labels argument is that America deserves a better choice than Donald Trump or Joe Biden. But what does that mean? Mr. Trump is polling at 53.8% in the Real Clear Politics average. If he secures the GOP nomination, it will be because Republican voters chose him. Ditto for Mr. Biden. He’ll be his party’s nominee if he succeeds in getting more votes than other Democrats…

“In presidential races, third parties typically represent some overriding principle, such as libertarianism or green ideology, that supporters believe is insufficiently represented. In 1992 H. Ross Perot ran on a populist platform of economic nationalism and received almost 19% of the total vote. But when a third party’s defining issue is that [it is] too good for the matchup produced by the other two parties’ voters—in this case, Trump vs. Biden— it can look like virtue signaling. No Labels points to polls showing Americans also prefer a different choice. The problem is that what many of these people really don’t like is the other party’s candidate.”
William McGurn, Wall Street Journal

“Pew polling has shown that the parts of the electorate that are least committed to a party have little in common with each other. They may be dissatisfied with the partisan status quo, but they have wildly divergent views on the economy, social rights and other issues that scatter them across the political spectrum…

“On top of that, they tend to be lower-information voters than most of the electorate, meaning that they aren't going to be nerdy policy wonks who are actively searching for an alternative. The No Labels platform isn’t a natural home for the politically homeless; it’s an odd hodgepodge of positions that functions as a kind of reverse Goldilocks — something in the middle that no substantive community of voters wants.”
Zeeshan Aleem, MSNBC

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

“It’s not absolutely certain that a No Labels candidate would benefit the Republicans more than the Democrats in 2024; No Labels rejects that assumption. But it’s likely. For one thing, if a third-party candidate succeeded at winning any electoral college votes, it could make it impossible for either of the major party candidates to win the needed 270 electoral vote majority. That would throw the race into the House of Representatives, where the GOP dominates…

“Voting for a third-party candidate is an OK strategy if you really don’t see much difference between the major-party candidates and want to register a protest. But… the notion that Biden and Trump are comparable ‘extremists,’ one from the left and one from the right, is an outrageous and dangerous untruth. There can be only one priority in 2024 if Trump is a candidate: making sure the country’s fate is not put back into the hands of a man already proved to be reckless, undemocratic, dishonest, self-dealing and supportive of violence.”

Nicholas Goldberg, Los Angeles Times

From the Right

“For Democrats, the key is to ensure that the 2024 presidential election is widely seen as a binary choice, either for or against Trump, instead of a referendum on the performance of the incumbent. Yes, the electorate thinks Joe Biden is too old and doesn’t like Kamala Harris at all. But no one drives the Democratic Party’s turnout as effectively as Donald Trump does… Democrats are terrified that this group No Labels could come along and screw it all up

“You can see the logic of why No Labels is interested in running another candidate. An astounding 65 percent of voters don’t want Biden to run for another term, and 60 percent of voters don’t want Trump to run again. Among independents, 73 percent don’t want Biden to run again, and 70 percent don’t want Trump to run again… Democrats are so worried about No Labels that they’ve formally established an organization to stop No Labels; instead of the natural name of ‘All Labels,’ its founders chose the name ‘Citizens to Save Our Republic.’”

Jim Geraghty, National Review

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.