Opinion | Tony Jones: No Labels, a new party option?
How disenchanted are you about the current state of presidential politics? Enough to bypass the traditional party apparatuses and vote for a ticket not endorsed by either? I can hear the groans already, and you have my apologies for broaching this topic 19 months ahead of the 2024 presidential election, but there are some interesting things afoot in regard to this upcoming election.
With the maneuvering around that contest starting to get more heated, it’s looking like it’ll be Biden running on the Democratic ticket. Personally, I think he’s been a good president, though not a great one, and I could see voting for him again. However, given the president’s age and the demand that the job puts on a person, it’s not a stretch to consider that a vote for Biden is also a vote for Vice President Kamala Harris for president, at least more so than it normally would be. I’ve nothing against the VP, but if I’m going to vote for her for president, I’d want it to be an explicit vote, not something brought about through succession by death or Amendment 25.
While the choice on the Republican ticket is less clear, it’s looking like it will likely be, at least, a Trumpist candidate. I remember the four years under President Trump vividly and have no desire to relive that. With Trump still having a firm grip on that party, it’ll be tough for centrist Republican candidates to gain traction in the primaries and make it to the big ticket.
So what’s one to do, Democrat or Republican, if neither of those likely choices is acceptable to you? There certainly are other parties you could support, organizations like the Green or Unity parties, or you could vote Libertarian. But is casting those votes, in effect, throwing your vote away? The results from the 2020 election would certainly suggest so.
It turns out there’s an organization that may have another option for you, No Labels. No Labels isn’t a party, it’s a group that’s dedicated to hewing the middle policy ground between the Democratic and Republican parties. Their stated purpose is to promote cross-party collaboration and cooperation in government in the pursuit of “solving problems”. This would ostensibly be a moderate/centrist path, that will bring American politics in from the fringes to a middle ground where forging workable governing policy is the goal, not dueling for power through attacks on the other party.
The presidential candidate nominating process has become a popularity contest over which the fringiest voters in both parties have outsized influence, leaving moderates voiceless and discouraged.
As such, a No Labels campaign should appeal to moderates from both parties by including centrist candidates on a bipartisan presidential ticket. It would also allow those same moderate voters to still vote for a candidate of the party they’re registered with but do so in a way that promotes cooperation across the aisle and helps nullify the divisiveness that hobbles our current government. A bipartisan presidential ticket and agenda would also help address the deadlock that typically besets our legislative process every two years after the midterm elections, by deemphasizing interparty politics.
There’s definitely risk in pursuing this strategy. Republicans don’t have much of an agenda other than opposing Democratic initiatives and investigating Biden and his family.
So, given that Democrats seem to be the party most interested in actual governance, a No Labels endorsed candidacy may pose greater risk to their chances next year. As such, Democrats are concerned that No Labels would pull votes away from Biden, electing the Republican candidate in the process. Concerned enough that they’ve sued the No Labels organization in Arizona.
There’s no doubt that the No Labels strategy could backfire, but with great risk comes great reward, and reclaiming our government from extremists on both sides of the aisle seems worth the risk. It could be that the No Labels approach is misguided and rather than offering their candidates as an insurance policy (their words) between two undesirable traditional party choices, they should run as a third option regardless of who the Democratic and Republican parties nominate. They could provide the American people with an option that is centrist from the start, focused on governing for the masses, not the fringes, and willing to leave the name calling and demonization of the opposition to the traditional party apparatchik. That would be refreshing to this voter and as such, I’ll be watching to see if and how the No Labels initiative moves forward.
Tony Jones' column "Everything in Moderation" publishes biweekly on Thursdays in the Summit Daily News. Jones is a veteran of the IT industry and has worked in the public and private sectors. He lives part-time in Summit County and Denver. Contact him at email@example.com.
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