Beware: No Labels is Mislabeled

By Bob Gaydos

 8543D5BC-0912-41F2-B69F-566401957438   I’m a kind of once-in-a-while label reader when I’m shopping at the supermarket. If something new catches my eye, I tend to want to know what’s in it.

     When it comes to political labels, however, I’m an avid reader. I want to know who or what is behind those statements, claims, charges, “facts.“ And when somebody starts serving me politics with “no labels,” I get very suspicious. Especially when somebody supposedly interested in politics has been rather quiet for four years and then suddenly starts popping up on my Facebook feed every day with another “survey“ about how Americans “feel.“

     Yeah, I’m talking about you, No Labels. I’d forgotten all about you during the four-year, Trump-led assault on democracy and decency and suddenly now, when we have a president who understands what governing for the people means, here you are like clockwork, calling for people to sit down and talk together reasonably for solutions to our problems.

      It won’t work. Not every American has been brainwashed by Fox “news.” Not every American believes the Big Lie that the election was stolen. In fact, most Americans believe President Joe Biden is sincerely trying to do what’s best for the country and they support him, your phony “survey” notwithstanding.

      … A couple of things:

  1. I’m fairly certain that I never used the words “president“ and Donald Trump all smooshed together in any column I wrote in the four years he was in the White House. In fact, I don’t think I ever referred to him as the president. It was either Trump or the occupant of the Oval Office or the Trump administration. So I purposely made sure to insert “president” in front of Joe Biden‘s name above. It’s a new regime, but I’ve never hidden my feelings.
  2. I had really forgotten about No Labels until it started showing up regularly on my Facebook feed a couple of weeks ago. I follow a variety of political pages, not because I agree with what everyone says, but because I write about politics a lot and I try to keep current on what various groups are saying. Until recently, No Labels wasn’t saying much of anything. That’s what caught my attention. All of a sudden, after years of Mitch McConnell refusing to even consider any proposal by Democrats in the Senate and ramming through conservative Supreme Court justices on an assembly line with no effort to find common ground with Democrats, now No Labels wants everybody to play nice. Find common ground. Work together.

     No dice. No way. Not now. You should’ve started worrying about solving problems when Barack Obama was elected president and Republicans decided to stop governing altogether and just focus on how to get reelected, by hook or by crook.

      The No Labels website declares, “There is no group in America doing what No Labels does. We’ve created a rebellious but constructive third force in American government that is finally poised to break the gridlock and dysfunction that is destroying our democracy.” It has also described itself as “a ground breaking movement led by Americans who embrace the new politics of problem solving and are collaborating to find common sense, non-partisan solutions to our toughest challenges.”

      A statement by its national cochairs, Larry Hogan, Republican governor of Maryland, and Joe Lieberman, former Democratic senator from Connecticut, declares: “Anyone who wants to build a better American future has to recognize that our problems cannot be solved by partisan politics. Washington today is completely out of whack. It’s not just that partisanship is dominant in our politics. It’s that partisan politics have crowded out the space for anything else.”

       Well, heck yes, sign me up! But where were you guys in 2016?

        The most visible action No Labels has taken was to create the so-called Problem Solvers Caucus in Congress, a group of 24 Republicans and 24 Democrats in the House. It has generally caused problems by presenting proposals unacceptable to a majority of members, occasionally too generous for Republicans, but mostly too stingy for Democrats and others who care more about helping a lot of Americans than playing nice in Washington.

        It is blatantly obvious that Republicans are either still afraid to offend Trump or still believe that helping corporate America is their only responsibility. They voted unanimously against Biden’s Covid stimulus package. Heck, House Republicans almost voted unanimously that Biden didn’t win the election, not because they believe it, but because they’re afraid they won’t get the votes of Trumpsters, who do believe it.

        How do you work together with that? Or with Republican governors who defy health officials’ advice on the pandemic?

       Here’s what Lieberman said about the Big Lie: “It is time to move beyond asking what responsibility former President Trump bears for the attacks on our Capitol building on Jan. 6. That question has now been answered. As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said after the Impeachment trial, President Trump was ‘practically and morally responsible’ for the attacks and was guilty of a ‘disgraceful dereliction of duty.’”

      Move beyond? Forgive, if not forget? Lieberman, who was Al Gore‘s running mate in 2000, looks to the Bible for the solution to what he sees as the “tribalism” responsible for the partisan divide in the country: “Now we need to stop seeing each other as “strangers” and once again think of ourselves as members of one big tribe — America. We need to reach out to each other to try to understand what has separated us so we can rebuild bridges of unity and restore civil discourse, domestic tranquility and problem-solving government. Our elected leaders in both parties in Washington must act like leaders again and begin this difficult process of reconciliation. If they do, the American people are likely to follow.”

     Well, Joe Biden is doing that, despite being rebuffed by McConnell and other Republicans at every turn. And yet, every day, No Labels posts unscientific “surveys” on Facebook written in such a way as to evoke negative reaction to such things as gun control, universal healthcare, a higher minimum wage or an increase in corporate taxes. They acknowledge the surveys are not scientific, knowing full well that most Americans are too lazy to question the accuracy. It’s Fox News without the screaming fascists.

     The No Labels website is a sea of white faces. In Congress, it’s a home for Republicans who should be Democrats and Democrats who should Republicans. The group is not forthcoming about where it gets its money. It also ignores the fact that sometimes there is a right and a wrong side on an issue and maybe some feelings have to get hurt for a law to be passed. Republicans understand this process very well.

     But hey, I’m willing to give it a shot. But instead of No Labels posting messages from Lincoln, FDR, Reagan, JFK, Teddy Roosevelt and others on the merits of bipartisanship, maybe Hogan and Lieberman can find a way to get a worthwhile compromise bill on, say, gun control laws. You know, so the tribe of America can stop leading the world in mass shootings on a weekly basis. Give that one to your Problem Solvers.

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at

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