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The Right Resistance: ‘No Labels’ means no candidate, no political brand and no hope of victory

How can “No Labels” find a candidate to run in this year’s all-important presidential election?

Can’t you just picture it now? How about a “Help Wanted” sign on a building in Washington, D.C., or an ad put together by an overpaid consultant to run in every major newspaper in the country along with a schmaltzy high-tech video spread shown on every major TV news source, both network and cable…


“Wanted, presidential candidate,” The spot continues, “Must not be Donald Trump or senile Joe Biden. Must not call him or herself a Republican or a Democrat. Must profess to believe in wishy-washy substance-less centrism, have demonstrated governing record to match, must be for and against stuff at the same time and must have regularly criticized both major parties on all issues of consequence.


“Friendship with Senators Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski a plus.


“Must be telegenic so as to accept every invitation to appear on establishment news programs. Must get along with the hosts of ‘The View’ in addition to CNN’s, MSNBC’s, Fox’s and other current news-related programs’ personalities. Publicly renouncing membership in one of the parties a plus for applicants. Retired former officeholders or otherwise unemployed and unencumbered political mouthpieces preferred, including United Nations ambassadorships.


“Must not dwell on winning political offices. Must be willing to reject previously stated principled issue positions to further the centrist cause. Must be for more government spending and a balanced federal budget at the same time as well as favoring cracking down on illegal immigration and advocating for amnesty for millions simultaneously. Must sell-out for compromise on abortion in the ‘split the baby’ Judgment of Solomon Biblical kind of way.


“Should possess enormous personal ego. Thick skin a necessity. Must cherish being depicted as a political martyr despite falling poll numbers. Must appreciate the distinct possibility of being remembered as a footnote in some future student’s history textbook.


“Must have a large and (racially) diverse social media following and be willing to travel extensively. Universal name recognition a plus.


“Ideal candidates will have been rumored, for years, to be a possible third party presidential candidate due to being a Democrat from a blood red state or a Republican from a deep blue state and already learned how to play the two parties off each other to accomplish little or nothing but still be regarded as a darling of establishment media talkers. Finally, the perfect candidate will profess to liking no one, favoring no one and present him or herself as only caring about the country alone. Ambiguity and vagueness in answering questions a plus.


“Send resumes, cover letters and speech video samples and salary requirements to ‘No Labels’. One more thing – Good luck!”


This was a fictional ad, of course, but the “No Labels” phenomenon is far from unreal. There is a group of Americans who truly believe there is a path to electoral success that doesn’t include either of the two major parties. They are quite dedicated to their mission, but should they be taken with a straight face?


In a to-the-point article titled “The ‘No Labels’ joke”, the always good for a relevant read Byron York wrote at the Washington Examiner recently:


“Finding a candidate has been so hard that one might expect the No Labels people just to sit 2024 out. But that’s not what they have decided to do. [March 8], the group got together in a virtual meeting and voted to go forward with a presidential run in 2024. But it still hasn’t found anybody to run: No Labels decided to run a presidential campaign without a presidential candidate.


“So now No Labels is also No Candidate. There is talk that, with the efforts to lure bigger names ending in failure, former Georgia Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan is under consideration as the new No Labels standard-bearer. But who knows? Maybe he’ll get a better offer and turn down No Labels, too...


“In any event, the search for a candidate goes on. The problem is, the lack of interest of high-level political players in running on a No Labels ticket means the process has become something of a joke. Perhaps No Labels officials could have an Idol-style competition to identify a candidate. Or maybe they could hold a drawing — you’ve got to enter to win! Or perhaps they could just auction off the nomination to the highest bidder. In the end, though, who is going to take this seriously?”


It's a darn good question and should be posed to any “No Labels” representative who’s sitting for an interview. He or she will invariably cite some poll or survey that shows big majorities of Americans expressing dissatisfaction with the major party choices in this year’s election, but “generic” independent candidates wouldn’t be all that popular either. Whenever that ballot slot is filled out with a real name and face, his or her popularity instantly plummets. That’s just a fact of life for system challengers and remains the biggest barrier to break through for third parties.


But first, “No Labels” must settle on a candidate, which York describes in his piece. Why didn't No Labels simply hold a primary campaign and conduct elections in the various states it could qualify for to determine a candidate? Primaries are a terrific way to stir up public interest in the party -- and how else are people supposed to get to know the contenders?


The answers are obvious – the group didn’t have the money to function as a major party across all fifty states (and additional territories), and doesn’t have a popular base from which to tap voter interest. Hypothetically speaking, there could be twenty-percent of voters in state X who could be interested in a “No Labels” ticket and next to zero in state Y similarly inclined.


That’s not true of the major parties, both of which enjoy members in every jurisdiction, even if the Republican party is all-but non-existent in the biggest state of all, California. Both the Democrats and Republicans have established “brands” everywhere and don’t have to devote resources trying to convince people that they belong. Even if these “labels” no longer hold true (such as the Democrats being the party of the working man and woman and Republicans being the favorite of corporate boards and rich people), much time and energy doesn’t need to be devoted to convincing people to accept their viability.


Put it this way – how many “No Labels” yard signs have you ever seen? Parties relish having “ordinary” people putting up candidate signs in their domains because it reinforces impressions of individuals, but also gives a smidgen of additional credibility to the parties themselves. It’s smart – and relatively cheap – marketing. And it demonstrates trust, too.


This absence of trust on behalf of American voters is the primary reason why independent candidates and third parties will likely never succeed on the national level. Sure, you might see an “I” representative or senator in specific circumstances, but there’s a reason why it almost always comes down to Republicans versus Democrats in the biggest campaigns.


Politics is personality driven. The higher profile the office, the more “brand” counts. And there just aren’t enough celebrity-type pols to lend their names and likenesses to a group like “No Labels”. They’re staggering around in a dark room probing for something they can’t see nor understand. Is it sad, or merely poetic justice?


Frankly, “No Labels” search for a 2024 candidate reminds me of the title character’s search for shrimp in the movie “Forrest Gump”. Forrest and good buddy Lieutenant Dan spent weeks and tried countless methods in pursuit of their elusive cash crop until finally a lot of prayer and a natural disaster – a hurricane – wiped out their competition to the point where, “After that, shrimpin’ was easy,” according to Gump.


Similarly, “No Labels” has devoted months to a practically blind search for a standard-bearer, with the most notable potential candidates – Senator Joe Manchin, former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and (even) failed Republican 2024 candidate Nikki Haley – eliminating themselves from the competition. Now that they’re open to just about anyone, one would think “No Labels” would find the going “easy”, right?


Recent rumors have revolved around former Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan filling the shoes, which must’ve brought chuckles and retorts of “Who?” when folks heard the name. Sure, Duncan’s anti-Trump credentials are well established to those who follow politics, but how could a generic no-name like the Georgian hope to compete on the same level that a Joe Manchin or Nikki Haley would?


Then there are those who still hold out hope that Nikki will reconsider, too. The former Republican 2024 candidate has chosen not to endorse Trump, so theoretically her options are still open. But would Haley truly want to effectively end her political career in such a way, by launching a fruitless effort to nip at the heels of Biden and Trump – and the best she could ever hope for is a third-place finish?


If Haley did do it, and Trump ended up losing in November, she would be forever seen as the ultimate turncoat, the Republican traitor who finished off the republic. That’s bad for her. She might even need to forego a bunch of her corporate board memberships, too, if she were no longer a possibility to run for president again. She’s only in her early fifties, right?


A similar type of calculus might be causing other potential “No Labels” stars to shy away from them. In reality, “No Labels” is, as York suggested, a joke.


One could almost feel sympathy for “No Labels”. They’ve got a lot of money to spend, ballot access in an appreciable number of states and no one to take up their banner. Time is running out for the political holdouts to find a sucker – I mean candidate – to commit political hara-kiri to save face for them. A decent want ad could very well help them, don’t you think?

  • Joe Biden economy

  • inflation

  • Biden cognitive decline

  • gas prices,

  • Nancy Pelosi

  • Biden senile

  • January 6 Committee

  • Liz Cheney

  • Build Back Better

  • Joe Manchin

  • RINOs

  • Marjorie Taylor Green

  • Kevin McCarthy

  • Mitch McConnell

  • 2022 elections

  • Donald Trump

  • 2024 presidential election

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