I once helped No Labels. The group has lost its way.

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By journalsofus.com

Now that the Biden-Trump presidential race is set, the No Labels organization needs to decide whether it wants to risk America’s democratic values ​​by pursuing the third-party strategy it has been contemplating for the past year. Senator Joe Manchin (DW.V.) understood this dynamic when declared that he would not run for president as a third-party candidate. The question now is whether No Labels also understands the risks.

When No Labels was founded in 2010, it had the admirable mission of promoting bipartisanship as a means to foster common-sense solutions to America’s problems. This was a mission I actively supported for several years: I attended their meetings and organized events that sought to recruit new supporters to their cause. In fact, I lent my name as director of an entity created by No Labels to help primary candidates who shared their vision of bipartisanship.

But in recent years, No Labels seems to have become a victim of its own arrogance. Its leaders are so convinced of the justice of their cause that they developed dangerous tunnel vision. Focused so intensely on their vision of bipartisanship, they sometimes seem to lose sight of the fundamental reason for bipartisanship: the promotion of common-sense solutions.

We first saw this tunnel vision in 2016 when, before the New Hampshire primary, No Labels awarded his admired designation of candidate Donald Trump as a “problem solver.” In doing so, they ignored that Trump had already made clear that his campaign would be built on lies and the worst kind of bigotry. In fact, until the January 6 Capitol riots, No Labels seemed reluctant to criticize Trump during his presidency, no matter how outrageous his behavior was.

The group’s tunnel vision has manifested itself in other ways, such as its insistence on balancing criticism of Republicans with criticism of Democrats, using false equivalences when complaining about the extreme wings of both parties. They have ignored a fundamental difference. On the Democratic side, disagreements with the so-called extreme wing of the party involve debates over political ideas, and that debate is what defines a democracy. On the Republican Party side, we see something very different: a willingness to use misinformation to undermine confidence in American elections and important government institutions, while at the same time being unwilling to condemn Trump no matter how reprehensible and dangerous they may be. their actions and their rhetoric.

This stunted vision also led No Labels to oppose legislative efforts without regard to their merits, because they failed to meet the group’s test of bipartisanship. For example, no labels attacked The House Select Committee investigated January 6 because it was not bipartisan enough, ignoring that Republicans prevented the creation of an independent commission to investigate the events surrounding that day.

Now the group’s shortsightedness is being demonstrated in its third-party presidential effort. Its rationale is that a very important part of the electorate does not want a rematch between Biden and Trump. I agree. I firmly believe that President Biden should not run and should have passed the Democratic nomination to the next generation.

But that’s not where we are, and Joe Biden is not Donald Trump. President Biden has a strong record of bipartisanship. And whether or not you agree with his policy decisions, that debate revolves around what policies best serve America. Trump, however, has made it clear that he not only admires authoritarian leaders, but that he will strive to be one if he is elected. And unlike his first term, he will surround himself only with extremely loyal people who will be unwilling to control his worst instincts.

Joe Lieberman, co-president of No Labels claims He wants to prevent Trump from being president again. If those feelings are genuine, the only responsible path for No Labels is to abandon its third-party efforts. Bipartisanship is important, but protecting our democratic values ​​should be everyone’s top priority.

Richard J. Davis is an attorney. He was deputy secretary of the Treasury in the Carter administration and assistant special prosecutor for Watergate.

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