We Don’t Need a No Labels Candidate, We Already Have a Bipartisan President

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A healthy, functioning democracy should have more than just two options for voters. And that’s what No Labels, which calls itself “a national movement of commonsense Americans pushing our leaders together to solve our country’s biggest problems,” claims to offer.

The organization, largely made up of conservative Democrats and non-MAGA Republicans, says it wants to eradicate the “anger and divisiveness that are ruining our country” and get us back to bipartisanship. It’s hinted it may nominate a candidate for the 2024 presidential election.

According to former Sen. Joe Lieberman (a Democrat turned independent), No Labels plans to hold a bipartisan nominating convention in Dallas in April 2024, and is currently working to get on the ballot in all 50 states. Lieberman promises the group will only run a candidate if they have a “chance to win realistically,” but cites Americans’ distaste for both parties as evidence of support for a third-party centrist group.

The organization’s purpose seems noble on the surface. However, No Labels doesn’t state any coherent beliefs or principled values, claiming instead to be “intellectually open.”

The truth is No Labels is largely composed of politicians who no longer have futures within their parties, and should the group run a candidate on all 50 state ballots a Donald Trump 2024 victory grows ever more likely, putting our democracy in peril.

It’s not even clear why a No Labels candidate is needed right now.

If the goal is bipartisanship, why not recognize President Joe Biden’s numerous bipartisan accomplishments? The Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the PACT Act for veterans’ health care, the CHIPS and Science Act, and providing support for Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression were all major bipartisan achievements.

But rather than appreciating this administration’s ability to work across the aisle, No Labels continues to push the narrative that a Biden-Trump rematch would only further divide the country. This is a way of building political influence through cynicism and disillusion within our electorate. They are aware that the center is a very small demographic, and unlike other third-party candidates—such as Cornel West, who takes stances on actual issues—No Labels focuses more on sentiment than substance.

Being “intellectually open,” with a vague ethos of not representing extremes on the left or right, leads one to wonder whose interests No Labels represents. According to an investigation by Mother Jones, No Labels is funded by millions in dark money, meaning they refuse to disclose who is funding their efforts. In other words, No Labels does not represent a change in our politics, it’s actually politics as usual.

Former Maryland governor and No Labels National Co-Chair Larry Hogan, a Republican Trump critic, insists they will pull votes from both Trump and Biden. But that’s simply not the case. Trump will unequivocally benefit from a No Labels bid for the White House.

Hogan cites polls that indicate voters don’t like Trump or Biden. While that is true, Trump has the most devoted political base of support of any politician in modern American history. He still holds a 76 percent approval rating among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents. There are moderate Republicans in that race like former Gov. Chris Christie, former Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and former Rep. Will Hurd, but none has been able to gain traction.

“It’s not even clear why a No Labels candidate is needed right now.
If the goal is bipartisanship, why not recognize President Joe Biden’s numerous bipartisan accomplishments? ”

Joe Biden was able to beat Trump in 2020 by building a broad but fragile alliance between progressives, liberals, and independents. Subtracting from that alliance helps the four times-indicted, twice-impeached former president. Further, the people that would prefer an alternative to Biden are not angered by his policies nor do they think he’s extreme. They mostly question his age and fitness.

A No Labels presidential bid also would amount to a farewell tour if moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is on the ticket. Manchin is the rare Democrat still holding office in West Virginia, but if early polling is an indication, he won’t be for much longer. Gov. Jim Justice polls over Manchin by 22 points in a hypothetical 2024 Senate race.

Perhaps Manchin believes the only way to extend his political career, or increase his post-Senate profile, is by embarking on a doomed bid for the presidency with No Labels. But given his work on the Inflation Reduction Act, which lowered prescription drug prices for millions of Americans without raising taxes on families earning less than $400,000, Manchin should know Biden is perfectly capable of bipartisanship.

If moderate policy, a willingness to work with the opposition party, to negotiate in good faith, and presiding over a strong economic recovery were the measures by which we gauged a successful president, Joe Biden would be in a strong position—and another non-Trump alternative would hardly be necessary.

Even Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a perpetual thorn in the sides of the mainstream Democrats with whom he caucuses in the Senate, recently said that the threat to democracy posed by another Trump administration is so dire “we have to bring the entire progressive community” to help Biden secure a second term.

There is a place for No Labels as a concept. Promoting bipartisanship is a positive activity for American democracy at all levels. But we’ve already got that in President Biden. Biden’s not dividing the country the way Trump has—he’s just old.

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