28 Dec 2010

Mark Yzaguirre has a great post on over at Frum Forum that dismantles some of the most used attacks against No Labels that have popped up in the last few days. For example: One critique is that No Labels is an attempt at politics without parties and it asks the public to shun the idea of political labeling.  This is a misreading of what No Labels is about.  If you go to No Labels’ website, you’ll see explicit statements saying that No Labels does not expect people to forget about real political differences or to seek bipartisanship for its own sake. What No Labels seeks is for political leaders and activists to approach public policy without the assumption that only one party or ideological group has a monopoly on truth, and with a temperament that recognizes such limitations.  No human system is perfect, including our own political parties and ideologies, and acknowledgment of that is more than just civility. Personally, I am a Democrat and ...

17 Dec 2010

Anna Sale, the editor at the Its a Free Country blog at WNYC.org, makes a good point here: At the No Labels gathering, the most resounding message from centrist politicians and consultants on the stage was simple: “We need backup.” “Politicians respond to numbers, and you just haven't had a vehicle,” said Republican strategist Mark McKinnon. “We want to create a vehicle to amplify your voices.” ... the driving sentiment was that there's not enough political cover for elected officials who make bipartisan compromises. Outgoing Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana said it has created warped incentives that push lawmakers to the margins, for fear of being targeted by party activists at the extremes. “Here's a movement that will support you in doing the right thing,” something he said is essential in party primaries when centrists candidates face off against more ideologically-driven candidates. “That's where a group like this could have a real differe...

15 Dec 2010

I'm not a fan of the name 'No Labels' for the organization, but there could have been worse ones. Unless public perception is totally ruined from outside attackers trying to paint it in various ways (I'm sure they will try), many of them totally complete opposites of each other, whatever it is the organization does and accomplishes will define it over time. With folks like John Avlon, Kiki Mclean and Mark McKinnon, professional talkers all, at the helm, they're likely to have a good plan on this, knowing how their opponents would come after them. I think, and a number of the people I met at the launch event thought, that they could have been more clear that No Labels wasn't literal. Of course those who don't want No Labels to succeed will look for ways to spin everything about them to find ways to attack or mock, but even some people who expressed hesitant interest seemed to have the impression that No Labels was at least partially about peopl...

15 Dec 2010

I think it is appropriate to start a series of posts breaking down what we've seen from No Labels so far by taking a bitter pill of honesty. While I think they're off to a good start, they have made what appear to me (and others) as mistakes. Some of them are minor, but with the fact that they are forging something that is a threat to both major parties, they can't afford to have big chinks in their armor if they want to survive  against the onslaught of much larger, more connected and more organized forces on the left and right... they need to be on their 'A game' at all times. Most of the attacks on No Labels (from the blogs and twitter feeds on the left and right that I have come across so far) have been cartoonish and lacking in substance (I'll get into that in a couple posts), but No Labels really did set themselves up for some of it. Akon's song is... hokey. That sing along was silly. This isn't major, but they'd be better off not using ...

14 Dec 2010

I'm sure many of you wont be watching the entire livecast of the No Labels launch, but the issue of a third major party forming between the current two came up several times. A National Journal article summed up some of the comment on the subject, and related things, by Joe Scarborough, David Gergen and a few others. A sample: MSNBC host and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough said it's "inevitable" that third-party candidates will start winning -- if the major parties continue to fail to tackle the national debt and energy independence. "The practical barriers to a national third party are so substantial,'' disagreed outgoing Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.). "More likely, one of the two existing parties will get it.'' Asked to rate the partisanship in Washington on a scale of 1 to 10, Republican political analyst David Gergen pegged it at 15. He said the spirit of the World War II generation, that we are Americans first and par...

12 Dec 2010

I landed in New York City yesterday afternoon, and have been enjoying the city with a friend. Saw Times Square at night (quite the experience) and will be seeing more of the sites in the coming days. I bought a book in the airport in Cincinnatti, called What People Americans Really Want... and the basic premise has been stuck in my head as I've been walking around this giant, crazy megalopolis. How crazy is it that we live in a supposed democracy... government of the people... but the vast majority of the power is in the hands of those who don't actually hold the prevailing views of the American people. I'll be heading to a reception for those who will be attending the No Labels launch later on tonight, and will assuredly have some interesting things to say about the people I meet, and what more I find out about No Labels. Stay tuned for that tonight, and remember that I will be live blogging and tweeting the event all day tomorrow, so if you ...

07 Dec 2010

Editor's Note: This was my first column at WNYC, prefacing two years of freelancing that culminated in the opportunity to report from the 2012 Dem & GOP conventions. No Labels wasn't what many centrist activists hoped at first, but they've turned a corner recently with the launch of the Problem Solver's Caucus mid 2017. Very grateful for the opportunities WNYC gave me, meeting John Avlon at that event and the good work No Labels does. The political blog for the NPR station in New York City, WNYC,  was looking for someone to give them a different perspective on the upcoming No Labels launch in their city, and they came across our fair centrist blog. They asked if I'd write a post about why I was coming across half of the country for the event, and I was - of course - happy to oblige. Here's a taste: I’ve been praying for years for a well organized, well funded and professionally run political organization that centrist independents like myse...

05 Dec 2010

This is a pretty apt metaphor for why I think No Labels will be a success, as long as they stick to their centrist guns. From Kathleen Parker, at the Arizona Daily Star: When the porridge is either too hot or too cold, the moment for something in between is ripe. More Americans now self-identify as independent rather than Republican or Democrat, even though they may be forced by a lack of alternatives to vote in traditional ways. Yet moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans alike have been banished. Purged by any other name. Some of them have landed in the No Labels camp. Jun Choi, a Democratic former mayor of Edison, N.J., told The Wall Street Journal that he lost because he wasn't extreme enough. Maggie Hassan, a New Hampshire state senator, thinks she lost for being too moderate. In South Carolina, Republican Rep. Bob Inglis lost because he wouldn't demonize President Obama. In a recent interview, he told me that he refused to say...

24 Nov 2010

Every couple days or so anymore, as this blog has gotten more popular, I get someone asking me what it is they can do to help the groundswell of centrist independents, and moderates of all stripes, fight back against the democrats and republicans. What can they personally do? I always give them the same general answer... that they need to pick a candidate, cause or organization and put time, energy and money into it. It really is that simple... and if there aren't any, start one. I realize that most people aren't social/political entrepreneurs like I am. I've started several grassroots groups, worked with campaigns on both sides over the years, I spend a few hours each and every day on this blog and other efforts and even ran a short lived political nonprofit that mostly focused on voter registration - registering nearly eleven thousand people in Eastern Nebraska in 2008. I realize that most people will give up if they can't find something to ...