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© Matt Bors

Pretty much everyone is fed up with the government, but nobody has a good idea of how to fix it. Politicians who actually try to change the system are dismissed as “out of the mainstream” or not “serious” because they don’t raise enough money. That’s ironic, since money in politics is a big part of the problem.

Is something like No Labels likely to make a difference? I don’t know.



  1. David Freeman wrote:

    I’m not at all impressed with the “no labels” group. The Democratic participants such as Evan Bayh, Harold Ford, and Kiki McLean resemble corporatist Republicans of the early Reagan years more than traditional Democrats. I’d rather these folks called themselves moderate Republicans and took back their party from the crazies. Effective governing requires compromise. Liberals have demonstrated a willingness to honestly negotiate and accept reasonable compromises for decades. They’re not the problem! You just can’t reason with crazy. We must fix or replace the Republican party.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 6:32 am | Permalink
  2. ebdoug wrote:

    And remember Saxby Chambliss supports No Labels. Saxby chambliss won his position by the dirtiest politics I’ve ever heard of.
    “During the Vietnam War, Chambliss received student deferments and was also given a medical deferment (1-Y) for bad knees due to a football injury.[“”Chambliss ran for the Senate in 2002, facing freshman Democratic incumbent Max Cleland. Chambliss’s political career would have likely ended if he hadn’t run for the Senate; the state legislature had shifted his home in Moultrie (along with most of the southern portion of his district) to the nearby 1st district, represented by fellow Republican Jack Kingston.

    Chambliss focused on the issue of national defense and homeland security during his campaign, and released an ad that included Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, highlighting Cleland’s record on the issues of war and terrorism.[8]

    Chambliss received criticism from Democrats and Republicans for this ad, pointing out that he, who hadn’t served in the Vietnam War due to receiving military deferments, had attacked a Vietnam War veteran who lost three limbs during his service for not being tough enough on issues of war and homeland security. Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said of one ad, “[I]t’s worse than disgraceful, it’s reprehensible;” Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said the ads were “beyond offensive to me.”[9] On the other hand, Chambliss supporters say the ad did not question Cleland’s patriotism, but rather his judgment.[10][11]

    Chambliss won the election, receiving 53 percent of the votes to Cleland’s 46 percent.

    For those who don’t know, Max Cleland lost three limbs in Vietnam. He Served. Sort of like when Rove attacked Kerry calling him “unpatiotic”

    Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 6:59 am | Permalink
  3. Arthanyel wrote:

    As a No Labels member and previous Oregon organizer, I think their hearts are in the right place and I support their ideals but they have no traction. Appealing to the better sensibilities of the electorate isn’t getting anywhere, and they have managed to gather less than 100,000 supporters in 8 months – and the growth has been basically flat and they have stopped displaying how many people have signed up because it’s a little embarrassing. But that said, what they focus on are good things – get people to work together, take the vitriol out of the debate, and change the process so it’s more balanced. They are very big on open primaries, as one example, to help dilute the influence of extremists in the process.

    I disagree with the idea that they are a secret moderate Republican organization – I went to Washington DC and spent two days with the 400 state organizers and many of the founders, and I can positively state that they are no secret front for anyone. They have been accused of being a conservative front by the left and a liberal front by the right, which puts them right where they want to be – in the middle.

    We can all support their goals and their ideas, but they aren’t going to be the solution. I am not sure what will be – we need something that taps into genuine emotion and passion (“we should just all get along” is not that) about making real changes. The biggest challenge is that while everyone complains about Washington and “all those idiots” the majority of voters are happy with THEIR representatives – and that’s the problem. So we have to change the process itself.

    And maybe one place to start is on campaign finance reform and advertising controls so that the moneyed few have less influence. Make them get boots on the ground, real people talking to their neighbors, and open discussions rather than blasts oif media hype. That and open primaries might be a great set of first steps.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink
  4. starluna wrote:

    I don’t know much about No Labels. But my superficial understanding was that it was more about changing the discourse and reducing the destructive partisanship in politics. I did not get the impression that it was about changing anyone’s political persuasion.

    EBDoug – how do you know Chambliss supports No Labels? I tried to look that up but I didn’t find any association between the organization and Chambliss. Obviously I’m not using the right search terms. I was able to find articles that linked the folks David Freeman mentioned, but not Chambliss.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink
  5. Patricia wrote:

    Arthanyel, I would like to see voting day made a national holiday and guarenteed time away from work to vote. (Ha, Ha, Ha!) That might make a bigger difference than ANY new “Group.”

    Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink
  6. David Freeman wrote:

    Arthanyel, I’m with you on campaign finance reforms and advertising controls to reduce the influence of moneyed few and especially corporations. I also sympathize with other goals you’ve stated for No Labels such as reducing vitriol. However, I still feel that No Labels fell for the false equivalency claim that both sides do it. That is simply not the case. Most of the problem is on the Right. The false equivalency just reinforces the intransigence on the right.
    I also disagree with “They have been accused of being a conservative front by the left and a liberal front by the right, which puts them right where they want to be – in the middle”. Being “in the middle” is not inherently good. In fact the middle is not even defined. For the last 30 years the Right has been moving further right and centrist Democrats, think Democratic Leadership Council, have been moving right to triangulate votes. The result is that today’s middle looks an awful lot like yesterday’s conservatives. Assuming the middle is always the place to be allows us to be too easily manipulated by long term conservative strategy.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink
  7. David Freeman wrote:

    one last point:
    I believe progress is made one person at a time. Despite my stated differences with No Labels, I do respect any effort to improve our political discourse and No Labels is definitely doing that. I am confident that No Label’s work has a positive influence and Arthanyel deserves kudos for stepping up to actively make a difference.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink
  8. starluna wrote:

    David – I think you have a good point about what “the middle” means and whether it is a good place to be. I’m not sure what I think about it, but it is something worth thinking about.

    What you said reminds me of the response that Justice Blackmun gave when asked how it was that he became more liberal. He stated that he did not become liberal. The court had become more conservative. Justice Souter recently said something similar (after his retirement, of course).

    Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Permalink
  9. Arthanyel wrote:

    Starluna – No Labels absolutely does not try to change anyone’s political viewpoint. They are just trying to get people, especially elected officials, to understand that the country comes before labels and political parties.

    I was just on a No Labels call tonight with Senator Mark Warner, one of the Gang of Six senators, and it’s great that they can get people like him to spend 45 minutes talking to the group. He had some good informaiton about their plan, but as expected it is a framework not a written piedce of legislation at this stage.

    And while I believe thst No Labels is trying to do something worth doping and their hearts are in the right place, I share David Freeman’s concern that the problem is much more on the conservative side and we have to guard against false equivalence.

    I believe the Tea Party has distilled out the crazy part of the Republican party, and the best thing that can happen now is for the Republican party to divide and isolate the crazies into their minority 20% that can make noise but not impact the rest of us.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Permalink
  10. Iron Knee wrote:

    I still consider myself to be a moderate, although in the current political climate most people would probably call me a progressive. But I have the same excuse — our politicians have moved to the far reaches of the radical right and I refuse to move with them.

    But to me, the bigger issue is that our government has lost its original goal of “we the people” and has become “we the big corporations”. That is not only bad for people, it is bad for business and free markets.

    And lastly, I don’t think we will ever hear the last from the right-wing crazies because they have way too much funding. Corruption at its finest.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Permalink
  11. ebdoug wrote:

    Starluna, I got an e-mail from them that I deleted saying the Saxby Chambliss supported their effort. At that point, I stopped reading their e-mails. Eva

    Friday, July 22, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink
  12. Arthanyel wrote:

    Chambliss is one of the Gang of Six, all of whom generally support the No Labels idea that bipartisanship and no virtriol is the better way to govern. But Chambliss isn’t a No Labels member.

    Bipartisanship is important. All those Republicans got elected because their constituants chose them. And while a lot of indepedents have buyers remorse from the 2010 elections, there is still a large percentage of the country that are on the conservative side and prefer Republicans to Democrats – and 20% to 28% that are hard-line Tea Party types.

    So as Starluna correctly says, we are all in this together. No Labels is trying to reinforce the message that you have to put your party label aside to do what is right for the country, and they are spot on – I just don’t think they have tapped the needed passion/emotion to get the populace at large to support them.

    Friday, July 22, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink