On the No Labels

January 2011 marks the start of the 112th Congress that has a political climate ripe for a third party. Consider the Republicans with their insurgent Tea Party arm and the Republican moderates they aim to oust if these RINOs don’t fall in line. The Democrats aren’t much different. Unless the Democratic moderates, some known as Blue Dogs, vote with the liberals, the party’s left has similar distain for their party’s moderates.

While some see the results of the recent Lame Duck session as hope for compromise, others see this as an opportunity for increased divisions. Will the Tea Party’s no compromise methodology lead to attacks of GOP Senators Brown (MA), Snowe (ME), Collins (ME), and Lugar (IN)? Will the GOP climate lead to more independents as Murkowski (AK)? Will these mavericks be able to survive?

Some Democrats openly wonder if these GOP moderates will bolt for the Democrats. After all, liberals will gladly welcome the disenfranchised as long as the newcomers vote their way.

The past 50 years has brought a shift in the political spectrum as a common overlap no longer exists between the two parties, thus leaving two distinct parties with distinct ideologies and distinct interests – thus leaving a chasm filled with moderate independents, many of whom who consider themselves as socially liberal but fiscally conservative.

In response, groups as No Labels attempt to fill the void – perhaps as a resistance to the pull from the extremely – even perhaps as a nostalgic effort for those of us who yearn for common ground days gone by. Yet respected columnist (and two-party purist) George Will tempered my hope by referring to No Labels as a political fantasyland filled with gaseous rhetoric. Although Mr. Will firmly believes that time brings a new equilibrium, today’s independent moderates feel disenfranchised by both parties.

I continue to maintain America is a politically centered country – perhaps even center right, thus the importance of political overlap. Groups as No Labels are interesting, but chances of them taking hold are slim because of their lack of exposure. The movement needs an infusion of defections from profile Republicans and Democrats, but that would require guts – Guts to leave the political and financial backing of a political party – Guts to abandon committee chairs – Guts to help fund a new movement – Guts to give up power– Guts to go against the flow.

Since I don’t believe the guts exist, perhaps I must wait for the new equilibrium while continuing to vote against a candidate rather than for one.

Interesting Reads: David Broder, William Galston, and John Avalon

25 thoughts on “On the No Labels

  1. So you’re saying were trading in lame ducks for rinos and blue dogs. Sounds like a bad acid trip, doesn’t it? Oh, and don’t you worry about voting against candidates, as opposed to for candidates. Remember Jimmy Carter? The only president who was not voted in, but won by people voting against Gerald “Beware those steps” Ford. So you’re following in established traditions. After all, you don’t really think people have voted for Richie Daley all these years, do you? (We won’t mention how his daddy got all those votes – I do still have living relatives in Illinois, and I’d like to keep them alive! 😀 )

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    • John.
      Between the retirees and the election losers, many of the lame ducks were RINOs and Blue Dogs, thus the 2010 election results have widened the divide.

      In terms of Chicago, don’t many people there get two votes?

      Thanks for commenting.

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      • Depends. Living people with no political ties get one vote. Dead people, pets, and partisan politicos get two. Dead partisan politicos get three. The mob guys you bumped off get one, unless they’re from out of town, then it’s as many as you can stuff into the box. Buddies of the mayor don’t vote – they get to throw out all the votes AGAINST the mayor. Republicans get no votes – unless they want a city contract, then they get all the votes the can buy! Of course Chicago has a great government – not the best you can buy, but the absolute best. Anybody says different, they get a pair of concrete swim fins and a free trip out to the middle of Lake Michigan. 😉

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  2. No Labels are kind of like a label in itself, right? LoL JK Just ignore me – the doc put me on some pain meds tonight, and I am rambling. But great post. You are politically savvy, which I love.

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    • Mckenzie,
      “No Labels are kind of like a label in itself” is exactly what I was thinking when I first saw the reference. Of course I also wonder how long it took to select the name, thus also wonder what other monikers were bantered around. Thanks for commenting.

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    • Nancy,
      Thank you … but I wonder how long it will take to achieve a new equilibrium. Simply YUK. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  3. It will be pretty interesting to see how many modern day examples of “Profiles In Courage” may come out of the proceedings of the 112th Congress. It’s too bad that folks cannot simply be fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Well-written, Frank!

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  4. Maybe the Tea Partyers will force the other moderate Republican legislators to go independent. Then maybe the moderates in the party will follow them. If the same thing happens on the other side it could be the makings for exactly the centrist party emergence you call for. That would be fine with me.

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    • Ken,
      I’ve been on who has felt (for a long time) that the Tea Party movement hijacked the GOP much in the same manner the Moral Majority tried years back. I also believe that they could have given the Libertarian’s some traction, but chose the GOP because of its money and influence. At the same time, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann threaten to take their movement elsewhere …. and I say PLEASE GO! Meanwhile, we’re in a wait-and-see mode to see what the factions do, so time will tell.

      As a first time visitor, a special thanks for your comment. I am anxious to read the columns that I see on your site. http://www.examiner.com/common-ground-3-in-national/ken-bingenheimer

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    • Are the Libertarians still out there? I remember them back from the 80s and 90s, when they seemed to be a decent middle ground with conservative views on defence and taxes with slightly more liberal views on medical and legal reforms, yet neither set of views sufficiently Capital C or Capital L to please GOP and Dems. Or did they settle back into a “waiting for the mothership” lunatic fringe outfit? (No insult intended to a number of groups – I’ve hung out with Trekkies, Battlestar fans, Who-ites, and others who were ALWAYS looking for the mothership! 😀 )

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      • I was a registered Libertarian for about 10 years but left that party last year when every communication I got from them was spent savaging Obama and the Democrats. I do still believe in the basic libertarian philosophy, though I suppose that’s a lower case “l.” I support the No Labels group as one who truly believes we need to stop demonizing the opposition and try to find common ground. And if No Labels betrays their reason for being I’ll be among the first to say so and vote with my feet.

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        • The problem is too many people vote for a party name, not a party platform. Hence the current trend to bounce back and forth between the GOP and the Dems, as they are the only two games in town (as far as most people know). I do look with some hope to Senator Murkowski’s re-election in Alaska – not because of her specifically, but because she waged a write-in campaign and won. The greatest test would be to write in someone WITHOUT an R or D after their name. I think there’s enough of a preconception of “other parties” as the lunatic fringe to prevent a write-in Libertarian or other party win. But if we could get one person in office, regardless of party affiliation, then we might stand a chance. (Although a lifelong conservative, I’m sick of the Republican Party BS. I’d rather support a conservative [lower case C] without GOP affiliation if they had their head on straight!)

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        • John,
          Senator Lieberman retained his seat like Murkowski did … both incumbents, both lost the party primary, both ran as independents and won.

          I contend that many people (the partisans) do vote based on the identification on the ballot. I once told a neighbor that he would vote for bin Laden (R) if on the ballot against a Democrat. BTW … the neighbor didn’t respond. Of course there are some voters who register with a party but have a mixed ballot.

          Which takes me to the actions of independents. Independent votes are split between voting for someone or voting against the other. For instance I contend that the 2010 mid-term results were more against Dems than for the GOP.

          Oh well .. thanks for the dialogue!

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        • Ken,
          I think there’s a segment of Republicans who have similar feelings. In other words, disagreeing is one thing, but demonizing is another. They are the disenfranchised Republicans who can’t support the Democratic left. Thanks for sharing!

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        • Frank- Absolutely, the 2010 election was anti-Dem rather than pro-GOP. Just like we chatted about Carter earlier – I had trouble finding anyone who voted FOR Carter, they all wanted to boot Ford. (Hmm, booting Fords sounds good. Oops, letting my Chevy side leak out. Sorry!) Thanks for the reminder about Lieberman, I forgot about him. From what I’ve seen, though, most independents run on one of two platforms – either keep me in ’cause you like me, or put me in ’cause you hate the other two. I’d love to see somebody run on an independent POSITIVE platform. “Here’s what separates me from the rest.” The challenge would be to find the right geographic area. The folk here in SE Ohio are decent people, but rather simplistic, and die-hard straight-ticket voters. You’d need an educated electorate, which is a huge hurdle in and of itself. I think Rust Belt would be your best bet – generally conservative in nature, but more liberal than the GOP on health care reform, tax law, and other weaker Conservative points (capital C on purpose). I’d say Detroit, but I’d entertain other suggestions! (Don’t anybody suggest Chicago! 😉 )

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        • John,
          That first major independent candidate for president must be one who can deliver a believable message that can counter the big parties. I can recall a David Brooks column a year of more ago where he describes this person as currently lurking in the background … unknown by the masses … with both the message and eye on the target for what needs to be done. Wish I could remember when that column appeared! Thanks for the thoughts.

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  5. MB Man

    No Labels will go Nowhere because of No Money (not gaseous rhetoric). The GUTS, however (and money) of Independent Senators like Brown (MA), Snowe (ME), Collins (ME), Lugar (IN), Murkowski (AK), and Lieberman (CT) will go a long way to bring about needed compromise between the GOP and DEMS in 2011. Thanks in the New Year for your thought provoking, entertaining, and GUTSY blog.

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    • Tim,
      Ah yes … the money fact is the key, and quite important to say the least. My comments about the guts are directly tide to money – it is that simple. Yet, will the Republicans as you and I mentioned be forced out of the GOP or will they be able to survive? If out, will they go as independent route as Lieberman and Murkowski? Another time-will-tell point. Will the left force any Democrats into a similar situation?

      Bottom line, from my point of view, the two parties are here to stay and dominate because because of the money factor. A political schizm is likely to happen, the question is where on the spectrum and when.

      Thanks for the kind words and for sharing your thoughts.

      Like

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