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No Labels Has No Platform

It is not a secret that we do not take No Labels seriously as a political movement. First, all of these alleged "third way" organizations conveniently ignore the fact that, at least in the 21st century, voters who are alienated from the political system are scattered across the political spectrum. There isn't some "silent majority" in the middle, just waiting to be plucked. Second, No Labels in particular very much appears to be a de facto Trump 2024 front; its only plausible impact is to steal enough votes that would otherwise go to Joe Biden such that a couple of close states flip to Donald Trump (think Stein 2016 or Nader 2000). Even No Labels' own polling shows this. It may be that some No Labels participants really think they are revolutionizing American politics, but surely that's not what's motivating high-dollar backers like benefactor-of-Clarence-Thomas-billionaire Harlan Crow.

Yesterday, as expected, No Labels unveiled its "platform." When we wrote about the planned platform on Monday, we were skeptical that the document would be meaningful, since it's rather hard to say what your candidate(s) stand(s) for before you have actually, you know, chosen your candidate(s). And indeed, the platform is an exercise in empty verbiage that may sound impressive but that means nothing.

Thanks to the fact that pages 1 and 2 are pictures/chapter headings, the No Labels folks manage to make it all the way to the top of page 3 before making clear that you cannot take them seriously. Here's what the first actual words of the document are:

Most Americans are decent, caring, reasonable, and patriotic people.

But we do not see those traits reflected in our politics today.

Instead, we see our two major political parties dominated by angry and extremist voices driven by ideology and identity politics rather than what's best for our country.

This sort of "both parties are equally guilty" argument is intellectually dishonest to the extreme. There is no question that Trumpublicans are much, much more angry/extremist than any other faction in American politics. There is simply no equivalent to them, either in number or in level of extreme-ness, on the left. Further, even if you believe that someone like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is just as extreme as someone like Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), the progressive wing of the Democrats has a small fraction of the power over the Democrats that the Trumpers have over the Republicans. There is abundant evidence of this, but the quickest statistical indicator is probably this: 1 vs. 15. The former is how many votes it took for Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to be elected speaker in 2021, the latter is how many votes it took for Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to be elected speaker in 2023. That embarrassing, week-long circus was entirely the work of the Trump-loving Freedom Caucus.

Continuing on page 3, there is an explanation for the name of the No Labels document, which is "Common Sense." Here is that explanation:

This booklet takes its name and inspiration from the original Common Sense pamphlet, published in 1776 by Thomas Paine. Its arguments for America's independence from Great Britain were so clear and inspirational that historians rank Paine as one of the fathers of the American Revolution.

Either someone does not know their history or, more likely, someone thinks that potential readers of this "platform" don't know their history. Paine was a political radical, and a freethinker among freethinkers. When he described his ideas as "common sense," that was aggressive political messaging steeped in irony, not unlike when Adolf Hitler titled his own manifesto as My Struggle. Hitler's book most certainly was not about overcoming oppression, and Paine's treatise, while ultimately very widely read, most certainly was not a rundown of broadly accepted, "common sense" ideas.

Moving along, the "platform" itself has 30 planks, divided into 10 sections. We're going to give you five of them, with our comments, to give you a sense of things:

#2: Our leaders must act now to solve today's economic challenges before they become impossible to solve tomorrow.

Our Response: Hmmmm, perhaps we could outline exactly what "today's economic challenges" are? Followed, maybe, by proposed solutions to those challenges? We are reminded of the episode of Cheers, where associate bartender Woody Boyd runs for city council against empty-suit incumbent Kevin Fogerty. Fogerty is interrogated by barfly (and future spinoff star) Frasier Crane:

Fogerty: Kevin Fogerty, City Council. I hope I have your vote on Election Day.
Crane: And why exactly should I vote for you, Mr. Fogerty?
Fogerty: Well, because I'm a hard worker, and I take a stand.
Crane: On what, exactly?
Fogerty: The issues of the day.
Crane: Which are?
Fogerty: The things that concern you and your family... the most.

No Labels: Taking a stand on the things that concern you and your family... the most.

#6: America is a nation of laws, so we must immediately regain control of our borders and stop releasing migrants who enter America illegally into the country.

Our Response: Here we are reminded of a comment by George Washington. When the fellows writing the Constitution were considering writing in a hard limit of 5,000 soldiers for the U.S. Armed Forces, the General reportedly remarked, under his breath, "Then you better tell the enemy not to invade with any more than 3,000 soldiers." If the U.S. is going to "regain control" of the borders, given the resources currently allocated to that task, then someone is going to need to tell the undocumented immigrants that no more than 250,000 of them can come across the border in any given year.

Now, it is true that the border could be made stiffer with vastly more funding. But since the No Labels platform addresses numerous areas where it wants better performance (better schools, better job training for veterans, better investment in healthcare, etc.), it's hard to see where that money is going to come from.

#8: Public safety is the highest priority. We need to fix the criminal justice system so career criminals can't keep committing crimes.

Our Response: We will admit that if you stop criminals from committing crimes, you will have solved America's crime problem. Hard to believe nobody has thought of this before.

#16: To have cleaner energy, America needs to be able to build clean energy technologies.

Our Response: Again, can't argue with this. Similarly, to have more money, America needs to work on generating wealth. To be more secure, America needs to invest in security. To have better national health, America needs to reduce the number of sick people. It's so simple!

#30: Building more homes in America will make housing more affordable for Americans.

Our Response: Hmmmm. Has anyone checked with Paine's contemporary Adam Smith on this? An increase in supply... decreases prices? No Labels needs to cut it out with this kind of economic witchcraft; it's frightening us.

In short, in our view, No Labels has affirmed that it is pretty much all hat and no cattle. Or it will be, once the organization gets a hat. A vote for them is a wasted vote; not only are they not going to win any elections at any level, but their messaging is so meaningless that even a strong showing isn't going to tell the two major parties anything. (Z)

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