Second Thoughts on No Labels

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 14 2010 9:21 AM

Second Thoughts on No Labels

There have been two media reactions to "No Labels," the new post-partisan-ish organization that probably isn't a stalking horse for Michael Bloomberg and probably is a way for liberal pragmatists to get more attention for themselves. (As Ben Smith points out , Democratic fundraiser Nancy Jacobson is the organizer behind it all.) The first reaction: An embrace from TV media elites, like Joe Scarborough, who fill the air with discussion of how bad it is that Republicans and Democrats can't come together to cut the deficit. The second reaction: Derision from the more political science-oriented pundit class , who point out that partisanship, far from being the problem with politics, is how politics works. Change and ideas come from ideological actors. The party closest to those actors adopts the ideas. On the left, it's the labor movement demanding that Democrats expand access to health care, and on the right it's small business owners demanding estate tax cuts.

I mostly agree with Chris Beam about the futility of No Labels , but I guess I'm optimistic that the group, or something like it, could achieve something if it worked exclusively and coherently on two issues. These issues would be:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Advertisement

1) redistricting

2) tax reform

In the first case, we actually have an issue that neither party benefits from in the long term -- they play a poker game in which they hope that they're in control of a state every 10 years, so they can redistrict it. And we have examples, in Iowa and California, of wealthy good government types turning this into a populist issue and getting voters behind non-partisan redistricting. There are already groups that work on this, but sure, a new group with a lot of hype and high-profile endorsers could take it on anew.

In the second case, we have an issue that will be worked out by partisans bartering and trading off, as was the case in 1980s. But it's a complicated and (admit it) boring issue that could benefit from a lot of free media attention from people who generate media attention for a living.

So: That's how can see No Labels becoming less than totally useless.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

160 Countries Host Marches to Demand Action on Climate Change

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.