Dem 51
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GOP 49
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No Labels Is a Sham

No Labels, which bills itself as a centrist political organization, has been making noise about running a third-party presidential candidate in 2024. The basic idea, ostensibly, is that Joe Biden is too far left, Donald Trump is too far right, and the mushy middle needs a candidate it can vote for. Maybe someone like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who just so happens to be a co-chair of the group.

This weekend, former Democratic operative and current No Labels CEO Nancy Jacobson was in Chicago to meet with donors. And at that meeting, she said that if Donald Trump is not the Republican candidate, then No Labels would probably sit the election out. She made clear that plan holds even if the GOP candidate is Ron DeSantis.

Given the stated goal of No Labels, this makes no sense. They're going to offer a centrist alternative if the far-right Trump is on the ballot, but not if the farther-right DeSantis is? This would seem to suggest that the real goal of the organization is to stop Trump from becoming president. Except that it's abundantly clear that a No Labels candidate would siphon far more votes from Joe Biden than they would from Donald Trump. Anyone who is planning to vote for Trump is going to vote for Trump. It's centrists and anti-Trump Republicans who are going to avail themselves of a No Labels candidate, since that would allow them to vote against Trump without having to vote for Biden.

And this brings us to what is clearly the real goal of No Labels. They want to get their foot in the door of presidential politics, and to use this election as a springboard to bigger and better things they envision in the future. But Trump is the only opponent who is hated enough for them to fundraise off of. This is the only scenario in which it makes sense to run against Trump, but not against DeSantis.

That means that like a Jill Stein in 2016 or a Ralph Nader in 2000, the No Labels folks are willing to help elect a president they clearly consider to be problematic in service of their own agenda. And it's an agenda that is a fantasy. It is true that some sizable percentage of the voting public doesn't like either Biden or Trump. But the No Labels argument is based on the notion that, again, Biden is far left and Trump is far right, and there is a huge centrist faction out there just waiting to be plucked by some centrist movement.

In reality, Biden is center-left/center, not far left. What that means is that the "I don't want Biden OR Trump" crowd isn't a bunch of centrists and moderates. No, it's a bunch of centrists and moderates, and small-l libertarians, and staunch lefties who think Biden is too centrist, and anti-government righties who think Trump is too establishment, and other folks who adhere to various non-mainstream political views. There's no such thing as a candidate who can unite all these disparate factions, and even if there was, it's dubious that these factions are large enough in number to win a majority of the Electoral College. And of course, if the EC splits three ways, then the presidency will be decided by the House of Representatives, where—according to our numbers—there are a grand total of zero members elected on the No Labels ticket.

In short, if any reader is tempted to donate to No Labels, we suggest finding some better use of your money. Lottery tickets, or Bed Bath & Beyond stock, or tickets to Chicago Bears playoff games, perhaps. (Z)

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