Some words in support of “No Labels”

Some words in support of “No Labels” February 18, 2024; By Tom Arthur from Orange, CA, United States (vote for better tape) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
What is “No Labels”?

No Labels is an entity which may – or may not – field a “unity ticket” for the 2024 presidential election.  They state that — in time for the 2024 election — they will poll key states and, if they deem it feasible, they will offer nationwide ballot access to a candidate-pair they select to be an Independent Unity ticket.  For clarity, it is not clear to me from their FAQ whether they already have ballot access secured or whether they simply have plans to do so, and one the people most frequently mentioned as a potential candidate, Joe Manchin, has taken his name out of consideration.

Their ideas are, broadly speaking, to find a middle ground in as many policy issues as possible.  They have a booklet, Common Sense, available as a PDF, which I’ve read through and, more or less, the proposals are indeed common sense solutions, for example, treating the debt with the urgency it deserves, ending abuses of the asylum system while granting permanent residency to adults brought to the US as minors, an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and so on.

Who is “No Labels”?

The group keeps its donors anonymous, with the justification that “we live in an era where agitators and partisan operatives try to destroy and intimidate organizations they don’t like by attacking their individual supporters. Since No Labels launched our 2024 insurance project, we’ve been threatened online with acts of violence, including death threats.”

However, the group lists its executive directors, chief strategist, national political leaders, and a board of advisors — though the only name I recognize is Joe Liberman.

Critics from the Democratic party say that the group is nefariously planning on playing spoiler by siphoning off votes for Biden, to enable Trump to win.  Trump-supporting critics claim the reverse, that it’s a scheme to ensure a Biden win.

But I think they make a credible case.  Both Biden and Trump have a relatively small “hardcore base.”  Both moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans want an alternative.  The electorate is balanced enough that a third candidate would take enough of a balanced ratio of votes from both sides that he or she would not be a “spoiler” — and that based on current polling, would have a real, meaningful chance at winning.  In fact, on a web page that I can’t find any longer, they cite details from Ross Perot’s campaign in 1992, that his polling peaked at 38% during the summer, and only some serious missteps on his part brought his final vote share down to 19% — but even then, exit polls showed that he did not actually act as a “spoiler” but drew votes roughly evenly from voters who would have otherwise voted for Clinton or for Bush.

Having said that, I raised this question on a community Facebook group.  The response was this:  you get two choices.  That’s all.  You have to pick a side.

Now, I know that No Labels, should they decide to field a candidate, will find it challenging to persuade even the anti-Trump, anti-Biden portion of the electorate that it is a feasible choice to vote for their candidate, that it won’t truly be a wasted vote.

But my perspective, at this point, is somewhat different.  Biden is a terrible candidate.  Trump is a terrible candidate.  I am done with playing the game of either, “yes, Biden isn’t great, but Trump is a threat to democracy so you must vote for Biden to preserve democracy,” or swapping the names around for the opposite result.  (Side note:  Trump may be saying crazy things, but it is his opponents who are abusing the legal system to seek to jail and fine him, not least of which in the case of last week’s colossal $450 million fine for his statements about real estate values.)   am not willing to select either of them on the premise that their opponent is so horrible.  Granted, I live in a state where, in a Trump vs. Biden match-up, my vote simply does not matter, and I know that an assertion that, even in a hypothetical where I lived elsewhere, I would choose the same way, is a bit hollow — but it is still true that I view the choice as a different sort of binary:  not Trump vs. Biden but “some other candidate” vs not voting for President at all.

As a side note, this sort of situation absolutely makes me wish we had a proportional representation system such as Germany’s, where voters dissatisfied with the head of the party they have voted for in the past, could chose a different party, even a small one, without any of this nonsense of “throwing your vote away.”

But without that system, honestly, I am completely done with these games of “you must choose between these two choices.”

I will not vote for Biden.

I will not vote for Trump.

I will not be forced into this choice.

I will hope that enough Americans also reject this false choice.  I may even make efforts to try to persuade those Americans, however futile those persuasion attempts may be and even though the No Labels candidate, if there is one, would be decided in some figurative smoke-filled back room.  But no matter what, none of us has a moral obligation to vote for an objectionable candidate, just because the other major-party candidate is worse.


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