As recounted in the Portland (Maine) Press Herald, the group is being accused of misleading individual voters it is trying to recruit—just as the “party” appears to be misleading America as a whole about its mission.
[Maine Secretary of State] Shenna Bellows sent a cease-and-desist letter Thursday to Nicholas Connors, director of ballot access for the group No Labels, expressing concerns that their efforts have confused voters who think they are merely signing a petition but are enrolling in a new party.
“Over the past few months, municipal clerks have received reports from numerous Maine voters who did not realize that they had been enrolled in the No Labels Party,” Bellows wrote. “These voters have provided similar accounts of how they came to be enrolled in the party: that they were approached by No Labels Party organizers in public places and asked to sign a ‘petition’ to support the new party. These voters have further stated that No Labels organizers did not disclose – and the voters did not understand – that No Labels was asking them to change their party enrollment.”
Well, that’s not good. Maybe these folks need to be clearer about what they’re asking people to sign. Because few would likely sign a petition that says, “Let’s give Trump four more years to unravel American democracy and finish the alternate Constitution he started writing on the back of a Denny’s kids’ placemat before spotting a McNugget under the fridge and spending the next two days trying to fish it out.”
According to the Press Herald, Bellows has sent letters to more than 6,000 voters who registered with No Labels, in order to ensure that they knew they were joining a new party when they signed the group’s petition. The letter informs voters about the potential confusion and tells them they should reregister with their municipal offices if they didn’t intend to switch their party affiliations.
In a statement to the Press Herald, No Labels insisted it was behaving above board: “Every No Labels organizer in Maine was given crystal-clear instructions that they are asking citizens to change their party affiliation,” the group stated. “We take no issue with the secretary of state notifying these signers that they are now members of the No Labels Party in Maine. We have operated under the guidelines provided by the Maine secretary of state, according to both the letter and spirit of the rules, and we have total confidence in our transparent engagement with Maine voters.”
Of course, the problem with No Labels, as many observers have pointed out, is that its entire existence is predicated on the idea that both parties are too beholden to the extremist elements under their respective tents. Unfortunately, that horribly mischaracterizes the current cauldron of incandescent bullshit we now find ourselves struggling to escape. Because while the Democrats’ version of “extremism” involves actually taxing corporations and ultrawealthy individuals enough to delay the inevitable moment when Eric Trump is given a federal license to shoot an unlimited number of kids at petting zoos (goat kids, not human kids—there’d naturally be a bag limit on the latter), Republican “extremism” involves returning a wannabe autocrat to the White House by any (undemocratic) means necessary.
In other words, No Labels is a crock of shit. As The Press Herald points out, The Daily Beast and The New Republic looked into the group’s fundraising and found that celebrated nonextremists David Koch, Peter Thiel, and Harlan Crow (who already owns an 11% stake in the Supreme Court) are financial contributors. Which lends further credence to the notion that No Labels is all about enabling a fascist, plutocratic takeover of America.
Daily Kos’ own Meteor Blades did a deep dive into the group last month, and it’s a must-read for anyone worried about an American democracy that currently wheezes every time it climbs (or descends, for that matter) a shallow ramp. And No Labels is presumably aiming to—wittingly or unwittingly; not sure which is worse—strap a pair of slick, leather-bottomed shoes to its feet.
As Meteor Blades points out, the group is not content to sit on its hands in the run-up to the 2024 election. It wants—again, wittingly or unwittingly—to be a major spoiler.
No Labels has raised $70 million—from donors it refuses to identify—and it has succeeded in getting on the ballot in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon in furtherance of its “insurance policy.” Jacobson told Scherer that No Labels also could use its ballot lines to field third-party candidates for Senate or House races.
RELATED STORY: No Labels tried to slur Ruben Gallego and kiss Kyrsten Sinema’s ass. It did not go well
Meanwhile, the group—which includes former Connecticut senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, who, as Al Gore’s running mate, likely lost the 2000 election thanks to an unusually strong third-party candidacy—is hoping to get its own presidential candidate on the ballot for 2024, even though that’s clearly a fool’s errand that could very well hand the election to a dangerous fool.
In a March piece for The Bulwark, Norm Ornstein, an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Dennis Aftergut, a former assistant U.S. attorney, lay out the clear dangers of this endeavor.
Some third-party efforts are not worth paying attention to—perennial gadflies, say, or minor parties that don’t make it onto ballots. No Labels is not in that category. They are making a serious effort: They’ve hired hundreds of signature collectors and plan an April 2024 nominating convention in Dallas. In addition to Arizona, they have gained ballot access in bluer Colorado and Oregon. They’re targeting twenty other states. As of last summer, No Labels reportedly had pledges of $46 million on the way to a $70 million goal.
Any moderate No Labels candidate will almost certainly drain more votes from the Democratic side than the Republican. According to Pew Research, “third-party 2016 voters who turned out in 2020 voted 53%-36% for Biden over Trump.”
Recall how slender Biden’s 2020 margin of victory was: In three battleground states that turned the Electoral College his way—Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin—he won by a total of 44,000 votes. That’s .028 percent of the national vote.
In other words, the party that was formed as a backlash against extremism on “both sides” could end up pushing the most terrifyingly extreme candidate this nation has ever seen over the finish line.
Meanwhile, Maine’s Bellows, at least, understands the stakes and the importance of transparency in this fraught political environment.
“In an era of disinformation and malinformation, our job is to make sure people have access to facts,” she said. “We want voters to know their rights, and that includes their First Amendment right to create a new party like No Labels. But in the process of doing so, we need to make sure everyone is playing by the rules.”
But if you really want to understand the stakes, you’ll find no better summation than this impassioned coda from Meteor Blades’ piece:
With democracy perched on a knife’s edge, with women forced to join livestock as beings without reproductive rights, with the fossil fuel industry and its puppets willing to ignore the climate crisis, with economic inequality rampant, medical bankruptcies common, gun violence a plague, white supremacy still widely embraced, a Supreme Court majority peopled by reactionary liars, and LGBTQ Americans under legislative attack, running an independent candidate intent on fantasy bipartisan compromises with Republicans who have shown themselves dedicated to making things worse while blocking anything to make them better is indeed hooey, pernicious, and perilous.
Yes, that’s all true. But Joe Lieberman apparently needs the attention. After all, no one talks about him anymore. Of course, if he does his part to elect Donald Trump, he’ll likely get far more media attention than he ever wanted—or ever deserved.
Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.
How do you make a campaign ad that voters actually want to watch? We’re discussing that critical question on this week’s episode of “The Downballot” with leading Democratic ad-maker Mark Putnam, who’s been responsible for some of the most memorable spots in recent years. Putnam details his creative process, which always starts with spending time with candidates to truly learn their story—and scouting locations in-depth. He then walks us through the production of the famous Jason Kander-assembles-a-gun-blindfolded ad that went viral and explains why, believe it or not, you always want footnotes in your attack ads.