No Labels, No Partisanship?

 

RINOs of the world, unite.

Moderate Democrat and Republican leaders are coming together to form a new organization called “No Labels,” which will, in the lead up to 2012, organize a grassroots movement that reaches out to centrist voters. The WSJ reports that No Labels wants to target the part of the “political sphere depopulated by the midterm elections and a vital tool for any potential third-party presidential candidate.” (via Hot Air.)

Enter New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is one of the group’s chief supporters, and a possible third-party spoiler in 2012.

No Labels’ purpose is to fight hyper-partisanship in politics, to be the “centrist equivalent to the tea-party movement on the right and MoveOn on the left.” Does it surprise you that David Frum is one of the organization’s founding leaders? So are Republican strategist Mark McKinnon and Democratic fundraiser Nancy Jacobson. 

From No Labels’ website:

Hyper-partisanship is one of the greatest domestic challenges our nation faces. It divides America and derails our ability to solve our shared challenges.  Rather than focusing on solving problems, hyper-partisans use labels to demonize their opponents, enforce orthodoxy within their own ranks, and marginalize sensible compromises.

Putting aside our labels can offer a hopeful alternative, grounded in an approach that brings people together to develop practical solutions to common problems.  That doesn’t mean that we forget about our differences.  It does mean that we regard those with whom we disagree as legitimate voices in the dialogue of democracy, as citizens who might have a piece of the answer to tough questions.

When it comes to politics and political parties, I think litmus tests and “orthodoxy” are foolish and harmful–especially for the GOP right now. However, I don’t agree with No Labels that partisanship itself is a problem. “Ordinary politics is partisan politics,” as Harvey Mansfield has written. To say otherwise–to try to create a postpartisan era of “No Labels”–is a utopian departure from reality.

No Labels is officially planning to launch in New York City on December 13th.

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Members have made 45 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member

    Does it surprise you that David Frum is one of the organization’s founding leaders?

    He’s created a decaffeinated Tea Party. Has Frum crafted a Pledge of Non-Allegiance to go with the non-partisan nature of the non-movement?

    • #1
    • November 24, 2010 at 8:21 am
  2. Profile photo of Byron Horatio Member

    Any person I have ever met who claims to “forsake labels” or be “post-partisanship” has always, ALWAYS been a liberal and afraid to say so.  I see nothing wrong with people being liberals and conservatives and making parties based on that.  It’s much more refreshing when people are honest about their leanings. 

    • #2
    • November 24, 2010 at 8:23 am
  3. Profile photo of Jaydee_007 Inactive

     Yawn!

    Top Down rebranding of the “Gang of 14” lukewarm milquetoast lets be here but do nothing but allow the leftward march to continue.

    Can you say Coffee Party?

    “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in time of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”                                                                      …Dante, “The Inferno”
    • #3
    • November 24, 2010 at 8:24 am
  4. Profile photo of Tommy De Seno Contributor

    We need MORE labels.  Labels are a great shorthand that lets me know something about the politics of the person I’m listening to or reading.  I don’t have the time investigate the prior works of each person, so I like the labels.

    No label implies no thought or belief.  Who wants that for themselves?

    Will Frum stop identifying congresspersons as Democrats and Republicans?  I don’t think so.

    • #4
    • November 24, 2010 at 8:25 am
  5. Profile photo of Emily Esfahani Smith Inactive
    Emily Esfahani Smith Post author
    Pseudodionysius: Does it surprise you that David Frum is one of the organization’s founding leaders?

    He’s created a decaffeinated Tea Party. · Nov 24 at 7:21am

    Great metaphor! Yes, I agree.

    I see two elements at work here with No Labels:

    1. Decaffeinating the tea party, as you say

    2. Doing away with labels

    I don’t see the harm in #1, but I do in #2.

    • #5
    • November 24, 2010 at 8:28 am
  6. Profile photo of Matthew Gilley Member

     That’s an idiotic name for any group, but I guess it’s more effective than ”No Votes” or “No Big Deal.”  If they’re planning a third party candidate for 2012, their real mission is to re-elect Barack Obama.  That’s all this is.

    • #6
    • November 24, 2010 at 8:28 am
  7. Profile photo of Emily Esfahani Smith Inactive
    Emily Esfahani Smith Post author
    Byron Horatio: Any person I have ever met who claims to “forsake labels” or be “post-partisanship” has always, ALWAYS been a liberal and afraid to say so.  · Nov 24 at 7:23a
    Tommy De Seno: We need MORE labels.  Labels are a great shorthand that lets me know something about the politics of the person I’m listening to or reading.  I don’t have the time investigate the prior works of each person, so I like the labels.

    No label implies no thought or belief.  Who wants that for themselves?

    Byron and Tommy–your comments remind me of T.S. Eliot’s defense of “bias” and “prejudice” (two words which we have come to associate with racism and other evils). Eliot’s argument was that we form our biases and prejudices as a result of experiences we’ve had, and those biases and prejudices help us form essential and necessary judgments as we live life.

    • #7
    • November 24, 2010 at 8:33 am
  8. Profile photo of MBF Member
    MBF
    Byron Horatio: Any person I have ever met who claims to “forsake labels” or be “post-partisanship” has always, ALWAYS been a liberal and afraid to say so.   · Nov 24 at 7:23am

    Afraid to say so, or simply unaware because they haven’t fully thought through the implications of their preconceived notions.

    I get a kick out of the folks that say, “fiscally conservative and socially liberal”. Which in my experience usually means “spend less money on the military, but give everyone a free education and free healthcare”.

    • #8
    • November 24, 2010 at 8:33 am
  9. Profile photo of Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator

    I’d like to point out that “No Label” is in fact a label.

    It’s like marring a blank page with “This page left intentionally blank.” Only in the case of “This page left intentionally blank,” at least there’s good reason: it reassures you that a vital part of your document hasn’t gone missing.

    • #9
    • November 24, 2010 at 8:33 am
  10. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member

    “fiscally conservative and socially liberal”

    The problem with that mix, as our social conservatives will endlessly say, is that socially liberal will eventually end up with social decay that results in endless drains on the people’s treasury to patch up the holes in the social fabric.

    Pace Theodore Dalrymple, does anyone really believe that out of wedlock birthrates in the 70% range will respond to more social liberalism? Unfortunately, when you raise this point, the unthinking cliche response is to accuse social conservatives of wanting to outlaw every vice, which is practically impossible for the state to enforce, as even Thomas Aquinas pointed out in the 13th century.

    • #10
    • November 24, 2010 at 8:41 am
  11. Profile photo of Jimmy Carter Member

    I’m De Seno on this one.

    Any politician who joins this organization should be asked to explain the (R) or (D) next to their name.

    If they are to get rid of “labels,” then tell them to begin with the U.S. Census.

    • #11
    • November 24, 2010 at 8:47 am
  12. Profile photo of Jason Hart Inactive
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: I’d like to point out that “No Label” is in fact a label.

    I hereby motion that sponsors and proponents of the “No Label” movement be labeled as No Labelists.

    Used in a sentence: “Like other No Labelists, David Frum thinks tea party conservatives are dumb and he didn’t want to come to their sleepover anyway.”

    • #12
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:03 am
  13. Profile photo of Ottoman Umpire Inactive

    Catchy. Maybe they should consult with the Artist formerly known as Prince to see how that works out.

    • #13
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:12 am
  14. Profile photo of Ottoman Umpire Inactive

    Catchy. Maybe they should consult with the Artist formerly known as Prince to see how that works out.

    • #14
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:12 am
  15. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Pseudodionysius: “fiscally conservative and socially liberal”

    The problem with that mix, as our social conservatives will endlessly say, is that socially liberal will eventually end up with social decay that results in endless drains on the people’s treasury to patch up the holes in the social fabric.

    Pace Theodore Dalrymple, does anyone really believe that out of wedlock birthrates in the 70% range will respond to more social liberalism? Unfortunately, when you raise this point, the unthinking cliche response is to accuse social conservatives of wanting to outlaw every vice, which is practically impossible for the state to enforce, as even Thomas Aquinas pointed out in the 13th century. · Nov 24 at 7:41am

    Amen.

    • #15
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:14 am
  16. Profile photo of David Limbaugh Contributor
    Pseudodionysius: Does it surprise you that David Frum is one of the organization’s founding leaders?

    He’s created a decaffeinated Tea Party. Has Frum crafted a Pledge of Non-Allegiance to go with the non-partisan nature of the non-movement? · Nov 24 at 7:21am

    Pseudo: This is priceless! Kudos.

    • #16
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:15 am
  17. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor

    Emily, your title could have been “No Labels, No Principles?”

    • #17
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:15 am
  18. Profile photo of River Inactive

    “No labels” means “nameless”. Which equals “no identity”, “no principles”, “no point”, and “no meaning”.

    This is political Esperanto. Remember the invented language that was supposed to “bring the peoples of the world together in perfect understanding”?

    Human beings and different cultures posess mutually exclusive and diametrically opposed ideas and convictions, like matter and anti-matter. These can’t be covered up by fig leaves.

    This is more proof of Delusional Cognitive Disconnect in America.

    • #18
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:17 am
  19. Profile photo of David Limbaugh Contributor
    Emily Esfahani Smith, Ed.

    Pseudodionysius: Does it surprise you that David Frum is one of the organization’s founding leaders?

    He’s created a decaffeinated Tea Party. · Nov 24 at 7:21am

    Great metaphor! Yes, I agree.

    I see two elements at work here with No Labels:

    1. Decaffeinating the tea party, as you say

    2. Doing away with labels

    I don’t see the harm in #1, but I do in #2. · Nov 24 at 7:28am

    Emily: I have to ask for a clarification. I don’t think Pseudo was suggesting that this new movement would decaffeinate THE Tea Party, but seeks to create a new movement, which could fairly be called a decaffeinated Tea Party or Tea Party Lite, or whatever. But, your statement that you don’t have a problem with decaffeinating the existing Tea Party raises the question: Why?

    I hope you don’t subscribe to the mischaracterizations that its participants are too extreme, etc.

    Just asking.

    Or, am I completely misunderstanding you?

    • #19
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:19 am
  20. Profile photo of Jimmy Carter Member

    Perhaps they could call it the “Sweet Tea Party.”

    • #20
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:21 am
  21. Profile photo of Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator
    Jason Hart
     Midget Faded Rattlesnake: I’d like to point out that “No Label” is in fact a label.
     I hereby motion that sponsors and proponents of the “No Label” movement be labeled as No Labelists.

    My Christmas wish for No Labelists:

    That they wake up Christmas morning to find that all of the labels in their life have vanished, as that is what they say they want:

    The labels on their toiletries (is that toothpaste or hemorrhoid cream?), the labels on their food (is this a can of beans or jalepenos? — are those fennel or caraway seeds?), the labels on their books (is that my Sartre or my secret trashy novel?), CDs, software applications, dangerous household chemicals (bleach-type or ammonia-type?), and prescription pill bottles (codeine?, digitalin?,???)…

    Oh, and why not the labels on street signs, too? Just for them, of course (the rest of us would still see ’em — hey it’s a Christmas wish). And people would not tell you their occupational titles — for example, the folks in the ER would refuse to divulge whether they were surgeons or janitors, because that would be labeling.

    Wholehearted No Labelism would sure be an interesting way to live.

    • #21
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:25 am
  22. Profile photo of Duane Oyen Member

    The did this in Minnesota in 1998, and we got Jesse “The Body” Ventura out of it.  All of the members of the Minnesota “Independent Party” are disaffected liberal Republicans who are pro-abortion and usually favor tax increases to close budget deficits, but are unenthusiastic about unions and reasonable about school choice. 

    We’ve only had one of their leaders who was an actual common-sense Democrat, former Congressman Tim Penny, who is actually a pretty good guy and probably belongs in the Republican party.

    I suspect that most of the “no labels” people went to Ivy League colleges and are afraid of seeing too many flyover candidates for high offices.  

    • #22
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:40 am
  23. Profile photo of cdor Member

     Can we sum it up now?

    Just another bad idea from David Frum.

    • #23
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:40 am
  24. Profile photo of River Inactive
    Jason Hart
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: I’d like to point out that “No Label” is in fact a label.
    I hereby motion that sponsors and proponents of the “No Label” movement be labeled as No Labelists.

    Used in a sentence: “Like other No Labelists, David Frum thinks tea party conservatives are dumb and he didn’t want to come to their sleepover anyway.” · Nov 24 at 8:03am

    That’s very funny!

    • #24
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:43 am
  25. Profile photo of Tommy De Seno Contributor

    In the past I’ve proposed that journalists have political labels (that they can decide upon).

    They seem to feel it necessary to identify conservatives as such during every interview, so I suppose they feel the labels have a journalistic necessity related to believability.

    They should have no objection to labeling themselves then.

    • #25
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:47 am
  26. Profile photo of Great Ghost of Gödel Inactive
    Emily Esfahani Smith, Ed. : Enter New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is one of the group’s chief supporters… Does it surprise you that David Frum is one of the organization’s founding leaders? …No Labels is officially planning to launch in New York City on December 13th. ·

    What are the odds that an organization supported by Bloomberg and Frum, and launching in New York City, is going to have the first clue what “centrist” American politics is?

    • #26
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:48 am
  27. Profile photo of flownover Inactive

    Grab your butter knives boys, there’s a fight on !

    • #27
    • November 24, 2010 at 9:52 am
  28. Profile photo of JM Hanes Member

    Matthew Gilley:  “No Big Deal”

     LOL!  They’ve chosen a lousy label for themselves, haven’t they?  To be consistent, they’d really have to be the _____.org. Suggestions for rebranding could be a thread of its own.  

    David “Sanctimonious” Frum and Michael “Nanny” Bloomberg are leaders desperately seeking followers.  It might help if they weren’t so relentlessly negative about everyone else, themselves, but I’m afraid the Kumbayah boat sailed in 2008.  

    American culture is profoundly adversarial.  It’s prosecutor versus defense in our courtrooms, and left versus right in politics; passionate polarization is our natural state.

    I think I’ll just say no, no, no, thanks.

    • #28
    • November 24, 2010 at 10:00 am
  29. Profile photo of Peter Hintz Inactive
    No Labels’ purpose is to fight hyper-partisanship in politics, to be the “centrist equivalent to the tea-party movement on the right and MoveOn on the left.
    Sounds like it’s gonna be like Kool-Aid, but without the sugar, or the flavor. I’m not sure the majority of voters is going to want to drink that. Sorry for another beverage analogy.
    • #29
    • November 24, 2010 at 10:36 am
  30. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member
    David Limbaugh

    Emily Esfahani Smith, Ed.

    Pseudodionysius: Does it surprise you that David Frum is one of the organization’s founding leaders?

    He’s created a decaffeinated Tea Party. · Nov 24 at 7:21am

    Great metaphor! Yes, I agree.

    I see two elements at work here with No Labels:

    1. Decaffeinating the tea party, as you say

    2. Doing away with labels

    I don’t see the harm in #1, but I do in #2. · Nov 24 at 7:28am

    Or, am I completely misunderstanding you? · Nov 24 at 8:19am

    David Limbaugh is correct in his assumption about my meaning, and I await Emily’s clarification. David Frum’s effort strikes me as trying to balance on the third side of a 2 headed coin.

    • #30
    • November 24, 2010 at 11:00 am
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