RINOS and DINOS - Update
Last week, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin announced that he would travel to New Hampshire on July 17, 2023 to participate in a townhall sponsored by a group called No Labels. Many in the Democratic Party are calling Senator Manchin a traitor to the party who will only help reelect Donald Trump president. What’s going on?
No Labels is a political organization founded by former Senator Joe Lieberman that states it puts country over party. For you youngsters reading this commentary Joe Lieberman was the Senator from the State of Connecticut from 1989 until 2013. He was a Democrat for most of that time but when the Democrats in Connecticut veered to the left and nominated Ned Lamont (currently the governor of Connecticut) to replace him, Joe ran as an independent in 2006 and won.
Joe created No Labels in 2009 while he was still in the Senate. I don’t think most people had heard anything about No Labels until very recently. I hadn’t. Most of their work has been behind the scenes. But many may have heard about the Problem Solvers Caucus in the US House of Representatives which had been created thanks to the behind the scenes work of No Labels. The Problem Solvers Caucus was officially formed in 2017 although many of the members had been working together informally for several years. The caucus now has 63 members almost equally divided between political parties. There are also efforts to form a similar caucus in the Senate. Senator Manchin is presented on the No Labels website as a member of that group.
The Problem Solvers have been working in support of bipartisan legislation on a number of fronts and, generally, have been a positive force in Congress. What has gotten a lot of people mad has been the efforts of No Labels to create an “insurance plan.” The purpose of the insurance plan is to guard against the possibility that the Republicans and Democrats will choose Donald Trump and Joe Biden as their candidates for the 2024 presidential election, a possibility unwanted by a majority of voters.
The insurance plan would nominate a third party or independent candidate to run against Biden and Trump. In order to make the insurance plan a real possibility, No Labels is trying to get registered in all fifty states so that their candidate can get on the ballot. Democrats are furious and are trying to block No Labels’ efforts. They view No Labels as a tool of their enemy, the Republican Party, that is using a third-party candidate as a means to prevent the reelection of Joe Biden in order to hand the country over to Donald Trump.
I don’t know about that. No Labels seems more anti-Trump than anti-Biden. Joe Lieberman admitted that if the choice was between Trump and Biden he would vote for Biden. So I don’t think that No Labels aspires to be nothing more than a Biden spoiler. Their website states that only about 16% of Americans consider themselves to be on the extreme left or right. Most people are more to the center, which is why both Biden and Trump are almost universally disliked.
No Labels insists that they could actually win. Most third party candidates do poorly on election day because the candidates are almost completely unknown. Betcha can’t name the candidates for the Green or Libertarian parties. But Joe Manchin is pretty well known and could be a potential No Labels candidate. He will be joined in the townhall by Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah who was also US Ambassador to both Russia (appointed by President Trump) and China (appointed by President Obama). Mr. Huntsman is not as well known as Mr. Manchin but could also be a viable candidate.
Another problem with third-party candidates is that those parties have never been able to elect anyone to Congress so even if the third party candidate won, that person would be unable to pass any meaningful legislation. But in Europe there are zillions of parties and a lot of them have parliamentary representation. The Danish parliament is made up of seventeen different parties. The French legislature has fourteen. The German Bundestag has ten. The No Labels party already has 63 members in the House – sort of. If the members of the Problem Solvers Caucus supported a No Labels government, they would be the swing vote in a country where Republicans and Democrats are doomed to be essentially split 50/50 in both houses of Congress for the foreseeable future.
So if you are among the 72% of people who think the country is going in the wrong direction (according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll) then you may want to give No Labels a chance. And you should definitely oppose Democrat and Republican attempts to keep No Labels off the ballots. They are just trying to keep you from having an option other than Biden or Trump.
I have not decided whether I will actually join the No Labels organization or make any campaign donations to them. I need to learn a little more about them and their positions. As I said, I like Joe Lieberman. And former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who was a very good red governor of a very blue state, is one of the national co-chairs of No Labels. And national vice chair John Hope Bryant has been a frequent guest on Squawk Box and, although I don’t always agree with his ideas, I do believe that his heart is in the right place.
But there are other organizations in the US that are trying to unite us rather than divide us. I have been a member of, donor to and strong supporter of Braver Angels for several years, as you can see from the links on my website. The group was created “in response to the crisis of polarization—a growing crisis that destroys trust, degrades public discussion, fosters isolation, and harms personal relationships.” Local Braver Angels alliances hold workshops, debates and townhalls where balanced participation and civil discourse covers topics of national interest. It also holds training sessions to teach people how work with people of differing opinions and also meets with politicians of all parties to promote bi-partisanship.
Other organizations worthy of your attention and donations include the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget for an in-depth understanding of our budget problems and the public debt crisis, CRFB also sponsors FixUS a group addressing the division, distrust & dysfunction threatening our democracy, and 1776 Unites is a project of the Woodson Center, a nonprofit organization founded by Bob Woodson that has worked for decades to empower local communities to address America’s toughest problems (see Old Black Men, February 3, 2021).
The American experiment requires your participation. You will not solve the problem of polarization in America by sitting in front of your computer. Get out your ass out there and participate in some of these great organizations. You can start by livestreaming the No Labels townhall tonight Monday, July 17, 2023. I will.