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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 12/20/2010

Beyond 'No Labels'

By Jennifer Rubin

The "No Labels" crowd has taken a lot of ribbing. When Frank Rich ("childish magical thinking, and, worse, a mindless distraction from the real work before the nation") George Will ("a political fantasyland"), Chris Beam ("Everything you need to know about the new political group No Labels is contained in its slogan: 'Not Left. Not Right. Forward.' It's smug. It sounds like an Obama campaign catchphrase. And it ignores the whole reason politics exists, which is that not everyone agrees on what 'Forward' is."), Pete Wehner ("politics without convictions, uninformed by deep principles and the best that has been thought and written, becomes simply a power game"), Alex Pareene ("anyone listening to the round-table discussions yesterday would've come away with an impression of a group that had no ideas for how to accomplish anything beyond begging everyone to sit down in a room and play nice") and the Meet the Press's David Gregory ("people have deeply held ideological views and differences") all belittle an endeavor, you know it's got an uphill climb.

The No Labels set does have its defenders. Among them is David Brooks, who participated in the group's official launch. In welcoming No Labels, Brooks bemoaned the absence of compromise in politics. (Oops: Soon thereafter, the tax deal passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority.) The problem, Brooks asserted, is that our system encourages "bad ideas." Political partisans are narcissists, lazy, conformists, intellectually insecure and trivial. (That's a whole lot of name-calling, but, hey, "intellectually consistent" is just a label.) What we need, Brooks suggested, is a new system for "constructive competition," personified by people such as South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham (one of the pols best known for preening and posing for the mainstream media invariably at the expense of conservatives). We need more patriotism, he lectured. "How can you love your country when you hate the other side?" he implored. (But what if you don't hate them, you just think they are wrong? What if you spotted President Obama as a leftist early on and weren't snookered into thinking he was a non-ideological technocrat?)

Not too long ago an able commentator mocked what he called "beyondism" and correctly identified it as a thinly disguised gambit by mushy liberals:

And in these prestigious circles, there were no yahoos to be found. People who insist on adhering to liberalism or conservatism find themselves linked. Liberals have to worry about being embarrassed by Louis Farrakhan, while conservatives are tied to Pat Robertson's books.

But those who have taken up permanent residence in the Land Beyond are tied to no one. They sometimes call on those still clinging to the Tired Old Labels to repudiate their allies, but they themselves never have to repudiate anyone. They categorize others while remaining uncategorized. . . .

But even among the intellectuals, Beyondists are likely to have liberal pedigrees. Sometimes they seem loosely akin to the non-aligned bloc in the Cold War, loudly nonaligned, yet somehow usually siding with one side. . . . But the peace in the Land Beyond is darkened by a deeper anxiety. The Beyondists have gone past the old creeds, but it is not clear whether those beliefs have been replaced by anything else.

Read the whole thing. It's as telling and biting a criticism of the No Labels pretense in 2010 as it was when it was written in 1995. Written that is, by David Brooks.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 20, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
 
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Comments

There is nothing wrong with partisanship, especially if it is not extreme or fed by hate. Jennifer is obviously a right-winger and would object to any comnunautarian ("socialist") policies and would favor self-reliance ("selfishness") and maximum fee enterprise. What is particularly destructive in our discourses is that too many partisan views are based on lies. It would be natural for people to object to "death pannels" but the fight is between those who believe those lies and those who know the truth. Bulding big partisan block of say, seniors, by telling them that the "government should keep its hands off their Medicare" is destructive. When the Right tells us that tax breakz for the wealthy are good for the rest of us, there must be vigorous questioning by the Left.
What causes so many people to want "No Label" is that we do go to extremes in our debates with too many fabrications (especially from the right). When you read or watch debates in Britain or Canada or other European nations, you're struck by the fact that the political differences are on the margins, not on fundamentals. For example, both Right and Left accept the need for universal health care or for child care or for safety-nets. They argue about management of programs or their sizes. We argue about their very existence.

Posted by: paulmathieu11 | December 20, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I hope people listen to this group. It's sad that greed and power are bringing down our great country, and no one seems to mind. What's even worse is that the voting public is turned against each other by these greedy media moguls and lobbyists who feed off the hatred they create. One day I hope our country comes together, I just don't see that day coming in a very, very long time. Is it too early to say that the baby boomer generation has failed the country?

Posted by: MidnightMarauder | December 20, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Not sure who you are ribbing, Jennifer. No Labels or David Brooks?

Posted by: TheNervousCat | December 20, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Can someone please explain to me why a group with such a benign agenda is the subject of so much venom and ridicule? It seems to me that the reaction this group has recieved is perfect validation of the need for it's existence. Yes we have a deeply divided country and becuase each side is firmly entrenched in their beliefs and unwilling to bend we haven't been able to get anything done in Washington for the last 10 years. Many of this groups critics will say that liberals and conservatives have nothing to talk about and therefore this group is waste time. I think they are wrong and that most people are moderate in their views, willing to listen to others, and comprimise in order to make progress.It's just that their voices have been drowned out by extermists on both sides. This group has the potential to become the voice of the lost reasonable majority

Posted by: pezbb | December 20, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

This blog entry equates No Labels with "the ignorant middle."

http://patriotpost.us/commentary/2010/12/20/no-labels-equals-the-ignorant-middle/


Posted by: TheNervousCat | December 20, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Bravo, Jennifer. With this sort of "emperor has no clothes" insight, your tenure at The Post is sure to be brief, however brilliant.

Posted by: trebor0012 | December 20, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

The march of the uninformed carries on unabated. Here's just a few gems to remember:
First paulmattieu11 confused self reliance with selfishness. But hey, he's a no labels guy, right? Basically, Paul's contention is that the left knows the truth and the right is lying. Yeah, sure, if you say so.

MidnightMaurader is convinced that people hate each other in America because Rupert Murdoch or someone like him tells them to. Way to put down the whole citizenry! Good job.

finally pezbb gets it completely wrong. Washington has gotten an enormous amount done in ten years. What else would you call 68,000 new federal register pages each year? The erosion of our freedom over the past ten years is significant and unnoticed by most.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 20, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Well if people in the mushy middle, like David Brooks, couldn't make contradictory even diametrically opposed arguments ("No Labels" good, "Beyondists" not) they'd have nothing at all to say.

He was right when he alluded to the fact that they have no actual beliefs to espouse.

Posted by: bertielou | December 20, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Lets face it. Liberal is a dirty word. So now they don't want to be labeled.

Posted by: sportsfan2 | December 20, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

There is something wrong with Partisanship when the PARTY (either one) becomes more important to both the politicians and the public than the many problems that need our cooperative solutions.

Posted by: LHO39 | December 20, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse


Could Ms. Rubin be any more smarmy in tone?

Sheesh!

There is a third way in American politics that largely goes ignored. It wants to protect neither the propertied class, nor the designated special minority groups, who wants free and open competition in our society. Both the left and the right in this country have their protected classes and turf and nobody speaks for the young and and their right to rise or fall on their own individual merit.

Posted by: edbyronadams | December 20, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Instead of No Labels they should call themselves America First. Too many in this country and on this blog think that allegience to party comes first, allegience to country being second.

Posted by: veritasinmedium | December 20, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

By trotting out something that David Brooks may have said in 1995 that contradicts his current position, Ms Rubin demonstrates that she doesn't get it. She's resorting to the same tactics that make regular Americans so fed up with their politicians.

Isn't it possible that David Brooks' views have changed over the past 15 years as he has aged and matured? (I believe that was the argument made to defend Virginia's current governor when a college paper showed his sexist side.)

This rush to judgement just sucks the air out of the room and makes your argument look lazy, conformist, intellectually insecure, trivial. Would it be such a bad thing if the No Labels effort succeeded? Is this about the good of the country or your ego?

Posted by: rosefarm1 | December 20, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

This movement will sputter along for a few weeks much like the Coffee Party--another band of masked liberals.
It's sad when you have to disguise yourself to avoid rejection, to lie about your ideas and intentions.
Conservatives are not ashamed to state their beliefs, unmasked, and do not resort to these stupid games.

Posted by: robtay12003 | December 20, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

So in addition to "Liberal", now "Centrist" or "Independent" is a dirty word? Guess the "mushy middle" (as another commenter said) will have to go back underground (only to show up again at another Jon Stewart rally).

This is exactly the kind of rhetoric that turned off so many people to hyperpartisanship. No Labels is meant to combat bonehead remarks by bullies on the extremes of the ideological spectrum. So why shoot it down because of it's "Why can't we just get along message?" I guess we've reached the path of no return and a Second Civil war is coming.

Posted by: TheNervousCat | December 20, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

So in addition to "Liberal", now "Centrist" or "Independent" is a dirty word? Guess the "mushy middle" (as another commenter said) will have to go back underground (only to show up again at another Jon Stewart rally).

This is exactly the kind of rhetoric that turned off so many people to hyperpartisanship. No Labels is meant to address both partisan extremes of the ideological spectrum. So why shoot it down because of it's "Why can't we just get along" message? I view Liberals and Conservatives like sports fans - loyal to their team and to hell with everyone else.

Posted by: TheNervousCat | December 20, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

From where I sit they look more like a bunch of what used to be called 'moderate republicans' before that species went extinct; killed by the forces of the unwashed, uneducated and proudly ignorant rabble led by their own Joan of Arc near-Tea-deity, Sarah Palin.

I think they formed this group out of their embarrassment for what the republican party has become. A home for nuts.

Posted by: cfeher | December 20, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Those who bash No Labels are those who fight on one side or the other to realize the visions their factions have for America. Both factions need what they sometimes scornfully call moderates to vote with them to win.

If No Labels somehow became a robust movement the only thing that would be harmed is the security felt by these pundits in being a left-wing or right-wing advocate. Imagine if there was a cable news channel devoted to No Labels, or even the hint of a threat of one. I'd love to hear Hannity's reaction to that.

The hypocrisy in these criticisms of No Labels is pungent because both sides equate the movement with childish wishful thinking -- after of course they conveniently define it by stuffing it with straw and putting a hat on it. No one knows where it's headed or what role it will in fact play. Devoted lefties and righties just know that it complicates their efforts and gives them heartburn. Too bad.

Posted by: swankcurtain | December 20, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

It's too bad that Contentions doesn't allow Comments,they have interesting topics today.


Radical Islam to Be Investigated: CAIR Cries Foul

Echoes of ObamaCare Autocracy

Palestinian Authority: 10 EU States to Approve Palestinian Embassies

Biden's Talk of Withdrawal in Afghanistan Makes Troops' Task Harder

...

Posted by: rcaruth | December 20, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Paulmathieu11, death panels are already here. My doctor no longer accepts medicare patients and it's happening all over the country due primarily to the healthcare law passed by Democrats. We have no place to turn, we're on our own to die. This decision complies with the "according to the needs" mindset of Democrats and Karl Marx. It's for the "good of the whole," you see. Merry Christmas, Mr. Warm and Fuzzy.

Posted by: robtay12003 | December 20, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Rubin,
Here's the problem I was watching MTP Sunday and one of the comment was brought up about the No Label is that when we succumb to the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or their ilks, they make money feeding on this. If we ignored them, they would be broke and treated as crazy old men.
They make money because they relied on rubes to who don't bother to do their research when they espouse their views and ridicule those they disagreed with. As an example I've heard Rush way back in 1995 and you can't help to notice that he has the tendency to cut people off air if they start asking tough questions that he could not answer himself using the typical well worn fallback line.

I would like to mentioned an article written by Eric Alterman of CAP that talks about the Post's pandering to the conservatives. In it he mentioned about your 3,859-word essay on “Why Jews Hate Palin.” which he states that Rubin has virtually no data and quotes almost no one in support of her views.

That's what typical of what your article does, attack those No Label as liberal when it comprise of both liberal and conservative.

Posted by: beeker25 | December 20, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

So, reasonable Republicans and Democrats try to form a group in answer to the vitriol of the last election cycle, and they are attacked ferociously by the right. Is the Tea Party strategy going to now be to call anyone that isn't pure enough an idealogue a liberal? Heaven forbid we try to meet in the middle and compromise...

Posted by: billyvw | December 20, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like "beyondists" include conservatives mugged by intelligence.

Posted by: mdrunner19 | December 20, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

The Nervous Cat

You make a good point, behind the "pox on both houses" seems to be the same ad hominem attacks from the right. If you read between the lines the only faction that has pure and admirable goals are the Conservatives. Nothing new in that mindset.

Ms Rubin has one quote ("politics without convictions, uninformed by deep principles and the best that has been thought and written, becomes simply a power game) How about modifying this? Politics without scruples becomes simply a power game.

The Right Wing has a very big investment in "Labels" (eg "What if you spotted President Obama as a leftist"). They allow political power ploys to be based on fear and loathing, the right wing will not give them up easily as they find them very effective, not the least because they distract from the internal inconsistencies and hypocrises of their goals. Nothing new here...

Posted by: chuck2 | December 20, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

With 40% of voters self-identifying as "conservatives" and only 20% as "liberals" or "progressives", of course the liberals want to do away with labels. Instead, they should do away with their outmoded and despised ideology of an all-powerful federal government run by an elite resembling themselves. They can't hide from the voters by disguising who they are.

Posted by: eoniii | December 20, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Damn, us'ens in Lake Woebegon were doing pretty good, all the kids were above average don't you know....then we elected Michelle Bachman! OOPS!

Posted by: CHAOTICIAN101 | December 20, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer:

While its good to recognize the wisdom in embracing principled partisanship as part of life, its also important to recognize that political dialogues can change quickly and dramatically. Just compare 2008 with 2010. I found this article too quick to dismiss the attempt to shift the political dialogue in a non-partisan direction.

And its far from being a liberal obsession. As a fiscal conservative, I would define partisanship as the absence of intelligence. Why? Because I truly think my views are fully reasonable without reference of obtuse metaphysics.

But many "great problems" that expose "inevitable differences of principle" turn out to be fads of one generation that evaporate when fresh minds approach the subject intelligently. Though one can be skeptical that great problems can be fixed easily, its a shame to see writers pretend it cannot be done.

Posted by: ledirigible | December 20, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer,

How about the possibity that all the nattering and resistance to No Labels is nothing more than the far right and far left idealogues attempting to perpetuate the industry of dissent?

We now have legions of pundits, lobbyists, think tank consultants, and, yes, politicians, who make and sustaing a very good living by dividing us as a nation. It is, literally, more profitable for those on the far right and left to continue roiling the pot than it would be for them to devise recipes to blend our differences into some cohesive pragmatic approach.

All of the dueling op eds and rhetoric of Messrs Rich, Will, etc. are necessary to keep the gravy train rolling for the intellectual literati who make a very good living defending the views of one side or another; they, of course, do so while it is more and more difficult for the rest of us to create and keep jobs in the real world.

Is it any wonder that the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, Olberman and the like are among the best paid individuals in our society? They earn a very good buck because it is in the best interests of their sponsors to keep us divided for their own selfish benefit.

No Labels is a logical outcome from the dysfunction a large percentage of the electorate see as a fundamental shortcoming of modern American politics. It will gain traction as more and more of our problems are ignored because to address them would require some degree of shared sacrifice and pain. In the world of Will, Rich and the AEI there is no room for compromise only total zero sum victory for the cause even if that cause produces suffering and pain for the majority.

Posted by: bobfbell | December 20, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Paulmathieu11, death panels are already here. My doctor no longer accepts medicare patients and it's happening all over the country due primarily to the healthcare law passed by Democrats. We have no place to turn, we're on our own to die. This decision complies with the "according to the needs" mindset of Democrats and Karl Marx. It's for the "good of the whole," you see. Merry Christmas, Mr. Warm and Fuzzy.

Posted by: robtay12003 |
------
Typical blame and wrong on facts, it was the Republicans who passed the Budget Budget Act 1997 created SGR rate which the government pays the doctors treating medicare patients. The thought of cutting the growth of the medicare spending in order to save money on the long run. The problem resulted in doctors' fee being slash 20%+ forcing them to drop the patient. Rather than undo the law, both sides have resorted to "doc fix" legislation. In 2008 Democrats tried to fix it once and for all with the Patient Affordable Act(aka Health Care reform) but the Republicans fought it tying it to reform which forced them to drop the issue and use doc fix and it is getting harder to fix it once for all.

Posted by: beeker25 | December 20, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

If you go to the nolabels.org website and sign up, you'll find it to be like
a social network where you will discover like minded folks who are also fed up
with the ever growing hyperpartisanship in Washington. So what the skeptics don't know is that No Labels is taking advantage of Social Networking. Maybe it won't fail after all - or turn into a fad - as the skeptics predict.

Check out this article - first one I've seen that isn't skeptical.

http://reason.com/archives/2010/12/20/no-labels-and-the-ideology-of

I am going to take a wait and see approach. If you can use the Internet to mobilize the independent, centrist voters, then this thing could be as big as the Tea Party, especially if the people who attended the Stewart/Colbert rally find out about this.

Posted by: TheNervousCat | December 20, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

"intellectual consistency" ... LOL, I guess that's the new word for "blinders".

People like me just don't feel represented by either of the two political parties. Republicans are nutty hypocrites and the Democrats are nanny-state fools.

Posted by: mikem1 | December 20, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

In the spirit of discussing Partisanship, I want to compliment Senators of both Parties. In the case of the DREAM Act not all the Democrats voted as a block. In the case of DADT and START not all the Republicans voted as a block. The sooner the individual Senators (and Representatives) drop their total obedience to their respective leaders, the sooner we might begin to see more rational, poison-pill-talking-point-free bills moving along.

Posted by: LHO39 | December 20, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Can someone please explain to me why a group with such a benign agenda is the subject of so much venom and ridicule?

=========================================

I think there are two reasons. First, many of the politicians who support it are nothing more than opportunists who are sticking their finger in the air to see where the wind blows, like Michael Bloomberg and Charlie Crist.

Second, it appears to many that the other supporters are people who want to escape the labels they were (correctly) given for their actions, like Brooks and liberals.

Posted by: bbface21 | December 20, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

It amazes me that people have become so insulated in their views and so extreme in their intolerance of others views. Perhaps this has happened because we now find ourselves with 24/7 access to information sources that are self selected to confirm ones prejudices. Far too many folks in today's society consider themselves "informed" because they have a steady diet of these 'echo tank' views from extremists like Limbaugh and Beck on the right or Olbermann and Maddow on the left.

An even better example of that kind of extremism can be found on the web where bloggers from both sides pump out garbage with no journalistic ethos - they willingly admit that that spend no time at all in vetting their information. They have no budget or people designated to do that. They just pump out whatever they hope will spin up their audience. What is missing are informed speakers with moderate, logical (and VETTED) ideas who are allowed to challenge or rebut some of the flotsam and bile being spewed from the bloggers.

I'm 65 and can recall the days prior to the grossly mislabeled "fairness in broadcasting" revisions when the FCC required true fairness. Whenever editorials were broadcast there was a requirement that opposing views were allowed equal time and the folks who anchored our 'news' made every possible effort to keep opinions off the front page or the main body of broadcast news. Folks like Cronkite and Huntley and Brinkley were applauded for their even handed coverage and lack of bias.

We would be far ahead of the game and find ourselves much better informed if we returned to those days.

If this 'NO LABELS' movement gets us closer to that, I'm all for it.

Posted by: fahlstrom | December 20, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

What I suppose the "no-labelists" want is a "center," which is certainly a good thing to have. But it depends upon how you think of it--if, for you, the center is simply those things which the largest majority of people agree on, and your goal is to unite people around those things while marginalizing all the views that only minorities believe in, then you have a good chance of sounding reasonable but you are actually living in a fantasy. The things 60, 70, 80% of American agree on are almost without exception vague, aspirational poll-tested items, which is to say pre-ox-goring. Actual majorities are formed by partisan coalitions which are able to attract enough independents and pry loose enough of the other side's partisans to get very specific things done and set in place a very specific, more or less irreversible, momentum. That momentum or irreversibility (that coalesced around FDR's New Deal, Truman's containment policy, and Reagan's tax cuts and privatization) is the "center" for as long as it lasts and it is taboo to challenge it; and underneath that provisional center is the more abiding one which resides in our refusal to use violence against each other, take away one another's rights, cheat on elections, etc. Encroachments on that center is what should concern us, while encroachments on the provisional center generally put the burden of proof on the encroacher.

And centers form because they address some widely perceived crisis in a way widely perceived to be successful; and they dissolve when they no longer solve that problem, or the problem no longer exists, or some new one comes along. Any new center now will address such a crisis--if the no-labelists can tell us what that might be (beyond the crisis in labeling), they might contribute something to public understand. Otherwise, the partisan discovery procedure, which at least points out weaknesses in the other side, will be more enlightening.

Posted by: adam62 | December 20, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Compromise politics ended the day Obama and the Senate and the House had a majority. That the Republicans could hold back all they wanted to do, in spite of their overwhelming majority, is an incredible and laudable feat.
Compromise politics is not a bad thing but not debating openly, enthusiastically and passionately in what you believe is a bad thing. That's what this administration thought they could do away with - what a pleasant surprise that they couldn't!

Posted by: Lynne51 | December 20, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that the media's mockery directed of No Labels is largely self interested. Folks in the media are happier when the parties to political discourse are sharply defined in their views (it makes reporting and commenting so much easier!) and and happiest when they are in open conflict (it's so much easier to grab readers' drifting attention when there are fireworks to exploit!). So the mockery is no surprise. My guess, though, is that the view of folks like David Brooks will, in the long run, resonate best with most Americans who actually want, at the end of the day, to see progress on their behalf through cooperation by the political parties.

Posted by: kugler2 | December 20, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

David Brooks is now opposing labels?

The man has made a career out of being the NYTimes' lap dog "conservative."

Of course, he's a "conservative" who supported Obama - a Senator with the most liberal voting record in the Senate.

Just because Brooks dresses conservatively, doesn't make him a conservative in the political sense.

Brooks shouldn't oppose labels.
He should oppose mislabeling.

Posted by: jfv123 | December 20, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey No Labels - the Coffee Party called and they want their mugs back. What will this fake movement no one gives two craps about be called next week?

Posted by: permagrin | December 20, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

No Labels didn't arise when liberals were sweeping the field in 2006 and 2008. These people were thrilled. But now that there is an emerging conservative consensus in reaction to the Dems' radical agenda of nanny state government and unsustainable spending, liberals are re-grouping as a self-styled sensible, civil middle. It's like how the communists re-grouped as environmentalists after the fall of the Berlin wall.

Posted by: eoniii | December 20, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

No Labels didn't arise when liberals were sweeping the field in 2006 and 2008. These people were thrilled. But now that there is an emerging conservative consensus in reaction to the Dems' radical agenda of nanny state government and unsustainable spending, liberals are re-grouping as a self-styled sensible, civil middle. It's like how the communists re-grouped as environmentalists after the fall of the Berlin wall.

Posted by: eoniii | December 20, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

No Labels didn't arise when liberals were sweeping the field in 2006 and 2008. These same people were thrilled. But now that there is an emerging conservative consensus in reaction to the Dems' radical agenda of nanny state government and unsustainable spending, liberals are re-grouping as a self-styled sensible, civil middle. It's like how the communists re-grouped as environmentalists after the fall of the Berlin wall.

Posted by: eoniii | December 20, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Not surprising that the people who most denigrate the No Labels movement are the ideologues on the far left and right. Zealots may deride and dislike those on the opposing fringe, but reserve true hatred for those who unreservedly fail to choose and close their minds to rational thinking and discourse.

Posted by: claytonfm | December 20, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

No Labels didn't arise when liberals were sweeping the field in 2006 and 2008. These same people were thrilled. But now that there is an emerging conservative consensus in reaction to the Dems' radical agenda of nanny state government and unsustainable spending, liberals are re-grouping as a self-styled sensible, civil middle. It's like how the communists re-grouped as environmentalists after the fall of the Berlin wall.

Posted by: eoniii | December 20, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse


Or like how the Tea Party came into being right about the same time Obama was being inaugurated?

The problem with Conservatives is that anyone to the left of them are "liberals" and the same goes for Liberals - anyone to the right of them is a conservative.

There IS a middle.

Posted by: mikem1 | December 20, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

There may be something to this No Labels. Since liberals think government needs to spend more, and conservatives think government needs to spend less, let's all agree that government should compromise, leave everything as it is, go home, and never bother us again. I could live with that.

Posted by: Larry3435 | December 20, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

We can try no labels since the US product label has been desecrated by military and commercial adventurism but it may not fool anyone.

Posted by: Wildthing1 | December 20, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

All this chatter reminds me of how a friend once described David Brooks as "a thinking man's George Will". It still brings a smile to my face...

Posted by: rosefarm1 | December 20, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

in response to this:
=====================
Typical blame and wrong on facts, it was the Republicans who passed the Budget Budget Act 1997 created SGR rate which the government pays the doctors treating medicare patients. The thought of cutting the growth of the medicare spending in order to save money on the long run. The problem resulted in doctors' fee being slash 20%+ forcing them to drop the patient. Rather than undo the law, both sides have resorted to "doc fix" legislation. In 2008 Democrats tried to fix it once and for all with the Patient Affordable Act(aka Health Care reform) but the Republicans fought it tying it to reform which forced them to drop the issue and use doc fix and it is getting harder to fix it once for all.
===============================
And since that bill was passed how many times have its provisions actually been enacted?

If SGR is more than a decade old, why are physicians only now discharging Medicare patients from their practice?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 20, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

One of my favorite quotes about the alleged "middle" that the media adores was tendered by Ariana Huffington, who said, "What's the middle position on slavery? The slaves work 11 to 5?"

Compromise is necessary and sometimes incremental steps is all you can make.

But no great change came from a middling approach to ideas and events. You have to take a side and fight like he** against the forces aligned against you. That's how Don't Ask Don't Tell got passed. By committed effort from people who believed firmly they were right. No wishy-washy stuff.

Posted by: mypitts2 | December 20, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

No Labels didn't arise when liberals were sweeping the field in 2006 and 2008. These same people were thrilled. But now that there is an emerging conservative consensus in reaction to the Dems' radical agenda of nanny state government and unsustainable spending, liberals are re-grouping as a self-styled sensible, civil middle. It's like how the communists re-grouped as environmentalists after the fall of the Berlin wall.

Posted by: eoniii | December 20, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse


Or like how the Tea Party came into being right about the same time Obama was being inaugurated?

The problem with Conservatives is that anyone to the left of them are "liberals" and the same goes for Liberals - anyone to the right of them is a conservative.

There IS a middle.

Posted by: mikem1
-------------------
The tea party movement was extremely consequential politically because it brought into the political process people who had been alienated from both parties, akin to the Perot voters of a decade earlier. The No Labels crowd are disproportionately Obama voters who are merely looking for higher moral ground.

There is an epic battle underway between those who want bigger government and those who want to return to the ideals of our founders -- individual liberty and limited government. In other words, an intellectual combat between progressives (or statists) and conservatives (or classical liberals). The idea that there is a middle ground between these two diametrically opposed visions seems nonsensical.

Posted by: eoniii | December 20, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

There is an epic battle underway between those who want bigger government and those who want to return to the ideals of our founders -- individual liberty and limited government. In other words, an intellectual combat between progressives (or statists) and conservatives (or classical liberals). The idea that there is a middle ground between these two diametrically opposed visions seems nonsensical.

Posted by: eoniii | December 20, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

==

The fact you fail to see any middle ground says more about you than it does the No Labels group, the Coffee Party, or the Restoring Sanity bunch.

By suggesting that government has a role is not the same as saying that we want a nanny state. For example, public education, while flawed at least ensure a reasonable literacy rate for most of the nation. I do believe in vouchers, but that would still be a government program.

There is room for compromise. Partisans are too blind to see it.

Posted by: mikem1 | December 20, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

There is an epic battle underway between those who want bigger government and those who want to return to the ideals of our founders -- individual liberty and limited government. In other words, an intellectual combat between progressives (or statists) and conservatives (or classical liberals). The idea that there is a middle ground between these two diametrically opposed visions seems nonsensical.

Posted by: eoniii | December 20, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

==

The fact you fail to see any middle ground says more about you than it does the No Labels group, the Coffee Party, or the Restoring Sanity bunch.

By suggesting that government has a role is not the same as saying that we want a nanny state. For example, public education, while flawed at least ensure a reasonable literacy rate for most of the nation. I do believe in vouchers, but that would still be a government program.

There is room for compromise. Partisans are too blind to see it.

Posted by: mikem1
-------------------------
Often there is a middle ground -- extending the Bush tax rates in exchange for extending unemployment benefits is an example. If one side wants to spend $10 billion and the other side $5 billion, there is an obvious compromise.

But if Dems want to increase federal government spending to 25% of GDP and to keep it there through higher taxes or to take over health care, as they've done, where is the compromise? The traditional moderate Republican approach is to give them much of what they want, just more slowly and less expensively.

That sort of slow march toward progressive goals has been overtaken by events -- the radical agenda of Obama and the fierce reaction of the tea party. One side will prevail and the other lose. The last election made clear where the vast "middle America" stands on this. The next election will be more decisive because the presidency will be on the ballot. As I said above, the two competing visions of America are irreconcilable.

Posted by: eoniii | December 20, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I just spent an hour on the No Labels site asking whether this exciting new third party could commit to being for democracy or Empire in the US.

Got No Answer from No Labels

Which tells me all I need to know about the seriousnes­s and commitment of this group of bipartisan­s about publicly taking any stand on an issue as simple to answer as whether they are for democracy or Empire in the US.

No Labels, it's No Sale here until you answer that simple question for the public.

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

Posted by: alanmd | December 20, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

There are more intelligent comments on this page than I have seen on a newspaper comment section in years.

I agree with Bob F. Fell who wrote:

How about the possibity that all the nattering and resistance to No Labels is nothing more than the far right and far left idealogues attempting to perpetuate the industry of dissent?

You know why they are threatened? Because the majority of Americans do not identify with either political party. No Labels is bringing the funding (which is always needed). Sanity brought the humor and the skillful presentation. The Coffee Party has the people power and grassroots ingenuity. All of these are tapping into what the silent majority feels.

Just because we don't scream it, doesn't mean we don't mean it.

Posted by: NationofLaws | December 24, 2010 4:23 AM | Report abuse

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