Just before Christmas, a group of self-styled moderates launched a campaign against â€śhyper-partisanshipâ€ť. The group calls itself No Labels. â€śWe are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who are united in the belief that we do not have to give up our labels, merely put them aside to do whatâ€™s best for America,â€ť says their website.
Oh dear. Accentuate the negative, as any marketing expert will tell you. Put the stress on what you are not. No Labels! Well, come to think of it, keep your labels, as the website says: then, united in the belief that you do not have to give them up, put them aside. I think it means keep them out of sight. Wear your label but hide it, with pride, under your coat.
I have another suggestion. No Ideas. Or how about: No Point? Would that be dull enough?
Washingtonâ€™s partisan warriors of left and right ridicule moderates as unprincipled or clueless or both. Splitting the difference does not give you the right answer, they say. Once in a while, in fact, it might â€“ but in general the partisans are right about this, and the No Labels crowd is the proof.
Crook goes on to say that centrists in America need to develop their own ideology and not just split the difference.
My ongoing problem with No Labels is that I think it is another weak-willed effort to come up with some effort calling on politicians to be nice and nothing more.Â There is little talk of ideas that might be able to move the country forward.
What I’d love to see is a true centrist ideology, along the lines that Crook talks about or maybe the classical liberal model found in the Free Democrats in Germany or the Liberal Democrats in the UK.Â Yes, civility is important, but frankly I want bold ideas and people willing to back them up.
I feel bad talking smack about a movement that is all about civility.Â But at the end of the day,Â I also think that ideas count for something as well in a democratic society.