On Monday, organizers for the nascent centrist/bipartisan group No Labels
expected a thousand Democrats, Republicans and Independents to gather
in New York City to decry hyper-partisanship and listen to a
star-studded line-up of speakers including New York Mayor Michael
Bloomberg, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Florida Governor
Charlie Crist and many others. The movement says it is not a
think-tank, a third party, or any "stalking horse
" for any centrist candidate to get elected. It also eschews endorsing a single issue
, preferring to say that it seeks "common sense," "less ideological"
approaches to governing. Since No Labels is abstaining from any position
other than noting that it would like to get away from
"hyper-partisanship," pundits are speculating what, exactly, the purpose of the
movement is, and how it will work.
- Bloomberg Gets His Presidential Platform, Even
If He Won't Admit It Yet Although the mayor has repeatedly said he will
not run for president, David Usborne
at U.K.'s The Independent notes that if he so chooses, "he could
certainly expect the support of the No Labels group, in the same way
that MoveOn.org rallies behind whomever the Democrats put forward and
that the Tea Party has sprung up to give grassroots backing to the
conservative wing of the Republican Party." The conventional wisdom
surrounding a Bloomberg bid, Usborne figures, is that he would run if he
feels the main party candidates "would worsen" the polarization of
American politics (He gives the example of a Obama vs. Palin vs.
Bloomberg match-up. A hypothetical case study is played out here).
- It's a Bland Trojan Horse for Generic Liberal Politics figures Slate's David Weigel,
who's full name for the movement is "the most important post-partisan
trojan horse for generic liberal politics since either Unity08 or
HotSoup.com." Mocking "No Labels," he concedes, is "easy." What strikes
Weigel is that the come-togetherness of the event feels identical to the
Glenn Beck 9/12 movement. But, "the comparison is actually a little
unfair to Beck. The Fox News host, at least, is intellectually clear and
consistent about how he wants Americans and politicians to act, and
what policies would work in the long term, when the crises come."
Plenty of Heavyweight Political Strategists Behind the Scenes
"Looking at the political backgrounds of the organizers of No Labels,
there is an inescapable connection to the Clintons, writes Luisita Lopez Torregrosa
at Politics Daily. "Several worked in Bill Clinton's presidential
campaigns and in his administration. Some also worked in Hillary
Clinton's presidential campaign." No Labels
plans to organize meetings in "every district" across the nation. "For a
fledging political group operating on a shoe string, it certainly
trumpets a far-reaching vision," Torregrosa observes.
- 'Good Luck' Electing Centrist Candidates While National Journal's Beth Reinhard
notes that the group is aiming for to be "something big" that can
attract "Americans fed up with traditional party labels and partisan
gridlock," she also notes that is a much harder proposition than it seems.
"Flame-fanning media outlets, gerrymandered voting districts, and
primary elections tilted toward candidates at the extremes are just
tributaries to the flood that No Labels is trying to stanch," she
writes. Moderates in both parties are an "endangered species" and
politicians who compromise are swiftly "shown the door." Reinhard
concludes: With $1 million dollars in seed money, activists in all 435
congressional districts, and 20,000 Facebook followers, "No Labels is one
of a few signs nationwide of pushback" against hyper-partisanship.
- It's About Moving Away from Hyper-partisanship In an opinion contribution to CNN.com, three of the group's high-profile backers--Evan Bayh,David Walker and Christine Todd Whitman--explain the message of No Labels by venting their frustration at the
"dysfunctional state of our current political system." The House has
become "ideologically driven" to an unproductive degree and only "about
70 seats in the house are really contested." As a result of this
polarization "the political fringes of each party have an undue
influence on how over 365 of the 435 seats are decided." No Labels will
commit to provide "public support for those elected officials who seek
solutions to our problems and who are willing to work across the
political aisle and bridge the ideological divide to make progress." The final line of the article may be the most revealing about the
ideology of No Labels: "Together we can achieve fiscal responsibility
with social justice."
- Whatever It Is, No One Seems To Care In a succinct post for Commentary magazine, John Podhoretz
notes that--at the time he was watching the live feed of the No Labels
rally--"a grand total of 508 people are watching the webcast." Also, he
can't quite figure out what it's all about except that there's some
politicians saying "there's too much partisanship and polarization and
we need to work together to get things done." For good measure,
Podhoretz notes that "bipartisanship" doesn't exactly mean good
Do they mean things like … the Iraq war, for which
half the Democratic caucus in the Senate voted in 2002? Or the No Child
Left Behind Act, probably the most bipartisan piece of legislation of
our generation, back in 2001? Or … the TARP bailout in 2008, which had
bipartisan support as well? Those votes, and the policies that followed
from them, have really done a lot to advance the cause of
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