22 Apr 2011

There are a lot of myths flying around about what No Labels is “really” about, and even more garbage being tossed at it from both ends of the spectrum.

This video isn’t polished… the sound is actually pretty bad, but it is one of the best summaries of what No Labels is really about. It’s centrist independent political analyst on CNN, and columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, John Avlon (one of No Labels’ founders) talking with a local No Labels chapter meeting in Westchester, New York. Worth the watch.

21 Mar 2011

No Labels had another one of their phone town hall meetings last week. I love these things. The last one had Eliot Cutler, and this most recent one had Fiscal Commission Co-Chair Erskine Bowles, talking about debt and deficit issues. I volunteered to write a summary of the call for the No Labels blog - the following is a sample of that: He went right into the meat of the issue at hand, what he called "the most predictable economic crisis in history", that is "as plain as the nose on your face - the fiscal path we are on, in this country, is not sustainable". He went on to say, "debt and these deficits are like a cancer, and are absolutely going to destroy this country from within" and, "it would be change if we grow up, if we come together, put partisanship and politics aside and really face this problem head on, I think the future is really bright.He backed this rhetoric up with some scary statistics. Almost every dollar, last year, the governm...

17 Mar 2011

Stumbled across this the other day, thought it would shine some light on the subject of No Labels, and just in general be interesting to people who want to learn more about the political situation has been bad as this before, and can get better again. Two of several questions from an interview with moderate Republican, and No Labels co-founder, Mark McKinnon at the Houston Chronicle: Q: You talk about hyper-partisanship, but when was it otherwise? Was there some kind of golden moment of civility in American history? A: Well, there were certainly better moments, for sure. I think of Reagan and Tip O'Neill. There were also harsh partisan times in our history, but I don't think you can find an elected representative who's been in Washington, who's there now or who's been there recently, who won't agree that it's much different now than it was 10 or 20 years ago. They don't meet together; they don't see each other; I mean, it's literally shirts a...

08 Mar 2011

For 38 years Idaho has had an open primary system that allowed all voters to participate in the state's primary election, regardless of affiliation or lack of affiliation. No more. U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill on Wednesday last week ruled that system unconstitutional. Then today, No Labels threw a yellow flag on Judge Winmill. In its self-appointed capacity as political referee, the non-partisan No Labels group was presumably acting on behalf of the 42 percent of the state's electorate that considers themselves independent. These voters will be disenfranchised by this ruling if the ruling stands. Idaho's Republican Secretary of State, Ben Ysursa, reportedly called the ruling disappointing and said no decision had yet been made on whether to appeal. The move to open primaries is building steam in other parts of the country, including in California, where Proposition 14 was passed last year instituting open primaries in that st...

01 Mar 2011

Disagreement and vociferous opposition are OK; demonization is not. That's the message this week as No Labels, in its self-appointed role as political referee, threw another yellow flag, this time on pro-union forces in Wisconsin. Democratic Wisconsin legislators temporarily fled the state in order to block a bill from passing that would end collective bargaining for unions representing teachers and other public employees. As part of the protests that continue in that state, Gov. Scott Walker was demonized by protesters who marched chanting, “Heil Walker! Stop the Maniac” and carrying signs comparing him to Adolf Hitler. Said No Labels in issuing its statement that a yellow flag had been thrown, "This demonization has only contributed to the disorder that the state faces in the wake of its fiscal shortfall.  It’s understandable that passions are running high with so much at stake, but that’s no justification for the name-calling and denigra...

01 Mar 2011

I was actually on this call (for part of it anyway, I got a call from my sister part way through), but Eliot Cutler and Charlie Crist hosted a town hall by phone event, with over seven thousand listeners. It was pretty interesting, and I"m looking forward to doing more of them. Its good No Labels is finally doing some things like this in the evening... as I can rarely make their calls in late mornings because of work, which I'm sure is the case for a lot of people. The Kennebec Journal has a nice write up on the call: The event was arranged by No Labels, a new Washington, D.C.-based group that is seeking to foster bipartisanship, and attracted more than 7,000 listeners from Maine and across the country. Cutler and Crist took six questions -- all from Mainers -- during the call that lasted about 35 minutes. "We need everyone working together -- all the folks who feel politically disenfranchised -- we need channels of communication, places t...

27 Feb 2011

Solomon Kleinsmith links to an article by Major Garrett about the decline of centrists in Washington.  It’s actually the summation of a longer article in the National Journal about how the two political parties in Congress have grown more and more apart. Not that long ago, Washington used to be a place full of individual, and individualistic, lawmakers who were both capable and willing to defy party labels and the party orthodoxy to make things happen. That was also a world, paradoxically, where party infrastructure mattered more; a place and time when local, state, and national party machinery exerted at least some influence over candidate selection, fundraising, endorsements, and field operations. The irony is that in that era of greater party influence, lawmakers acted less predictably and with less partisan zeal. National Journal‘s vote ratings in 1982 found, to cite just one example, 60 senators who could credibly be described as operating ...

18 Feb 2011

Was it the Gabby Giffords shooting in Tucson? The public's disgust with yet another nasty-as-they-come election season? The spectacle of Congress in gridlock for two years as Republicans dug in their heels and pledged to block any legislation President Obama favored? Or was it simply the recognition on all sides (excepting, perhaps, among the politicians in Washington themselves) that if the towering problems we face are not addressed now then tomorrow may be too late? I'm guessing it was a combination of all these things and more that have resulted today in calls from every quarter for our elected "leaders" to cut through the hyper-partisanship and work together to actually get something done. A proposal is submitted that members of Congress not sit in party groupings for the State of the Union address, scores of newspapers across the country applaud the notion, citizens everywhere voice their support, and it becomes a reality. In news art...

11 Feb 2011

The Tea Party Express has now named four U.S. senators it intends to work to defeat next year, and their selections might well spark an opposing response from No Labels. Maine's Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe and Michigan's Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow were added yesterday to a list that includes Nebraska's Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson and Indiana's Republican Sen. Richard Lugar. The four would commonly be characterized as "moderates" but in the eyes of Tea Party members they are anything but. Moderates, on the other hand, are exactly the sort of politician that the non-partisan No Labels organization intends to support come primary season in 2012. No Labels argues that the party extremes on the left and right have captured the nominating process and put up candidates that the main body of the electorate do not support. No Labels has announced its intention to hold a 'National Day of Action' next year, and to work to support moderates chall...

08 Feb 2011

No Labels is gearing up for a campaign to tie a debt ceiling increase to concrete moves bring deficit spending into line. Speaking in the group's weekly citizen leaders conference call Monday morning, David Walker, former Comptroller General of the U.S. and a No Labels founding leader, told the group that the intent is not to advocate for a specific solution but to make it clear that the American people expect their elected representatives to clean up the financial mess the country is in. Kiki McLean, another of the founding leaders, said, "We have an opportunity to be the voice that says 'do not let the debt ceiling become  the captive of hyper-partisanship, where it's an all or nothing element.'" She said No Labels is looking for a "tight message that resonates with the American people" and asked the members to offer their suggestions for accomplishing this. McLean and Walker both stressed that to accomplish this, all parties must come to...