‘No Labels’ no good for Democrats

No Labels pushes the agenda of the wealthy and exploits the public’s frustration with gridlocked government

Labels are good. They’re helpful when buying a car or a can of soda because by looking at the label, you know what you’re getting for your money. Each political party has a label and the Republicans’ label says anger, passion, and as little government involvement with the economy as possible. What’s the Democrats’ label?

The main reason Democrats took a shellacking in 2010 was their lack of label. No one knew what we were and now, we see Maggie Hassan, the New Hampshire spokesperson for an odd, generally dismissed group called No Labels, running in the gubernatorial primary in New Hampshire. No Labels seems like a nice idea, but when you look behind that pleasant name, you find the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

No Labels is big-money interests pushing the Republican agenda. They insist it’s the Democrats who must appease and surrender on issues and play nice, which means doing everything the right wing, which has taken over the Republican Party, wants.

They’ve failed to catch on because they package far-right ideas as the new mainstream, like fast-tracking legislation to shut out the democratic process. Most Americans favor having legislators debate the issues publicly.

No Labels works with longtime opponents of Social Security and Medicare, pushing the agenda of the wealthy while exploiting the public’s frustration with gridlocked government.

It’s instructive to learn who funds political efforts. Anti-Social Security billionaire Pete Peterson, the guy who funded Unity08, then Americans Elect, is one person behind No Labels. Its co-founders are Republican Party operative Mark McKinnon, right-leaning political operative Nancy Jacobson and billionaire-funded operative David Walker, whose work with Peterson has been dedicated for many years to the pursuit of a policy package that would cut Social Security and Medicare benefits while lowering the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans. Joe Lieberman is an eager No Labeler. Former Portsmouth mayor Steve Marchand was briefly with No Labels until he found out what it really was.

Just as it’s clear that Democrats work for the 100 percent, not just the 1 percent, these Washington insiders try to paint themselves as ordinary Americans against Washington insiders.

It would be one thing if this lobbying group openly identified itself with the new Republican Party. The problem Democrats had in 2010 was a lack of identity and this group called for Democrats to give up, surrender its agenda to the far right, and label it the new mainstream. Now, their candidate is Maggie Hassan, running as a Democrat.

Oh sure, they urge regular meetings between the President and Congress, masking sucker punches like the longtime Republican proposal for a Presidential "line-item veto" which would upset the Constitutional balance of power. Their "fast-track" vote puts enormous pressure on lawmakers to fall in line and denies the public the opportunity to hear an open debate about each provision of a bill. The core of the republic would wither.

Some people, generally Republican insiders, may like this lobbyist-driven, rich-people-coddling set of proposals. They’re sure not Democrats, who as part of their “label” have always fought against top-down government and for a government that works for the good of the common people with the participation and consent of the governed.

An informed public is a good thing. Whatever you decide, know this — Hassan’s group is led by highly-paid influence peddlers trying to present No Labels’ unpopular ideas as the will of the people, rather than the whims of the wealthy. No Labels is a shadowy group of corporate-funded bigwigs deciding what's best for us and I bet both Democrats and Republicans want no more of that style of government.


State senator from 1990 to 2004, Burt Cohen hosts a radio show, "The Burt Cohen Show," which can be heard on WSCA-FM and at www.TheBurtCohenShow.com.

Categories: Opinion