A No Labels ticket: Manchin-Huntsman?
Building an infrastructure so a ballot could be available and could be offered to a ticket. Convention in Dallas offers a ballot line and then stands back.
Nevins is co-publisher of The Fulcrum and co-founder and board chairman of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund.
No Labels continues to raise money, roughly $70,000,000 to date, according to founder Nancy Jacobson in a recent NBC interview to build the infrastructure so a ballot could be available to an independent ticket composed of one Democrat and one Republican to run for president in 2024. As the process proceeds, they are increasingly in the news being attacked by just about everyone.
Ironically, despite No Labels' mantra of not labeling each other as Democrats or Republicans but instead as Americans, they are being labeled more and more by members of both parties.
The speculation as to who the candidates might be grew last week as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) mentioned the possibility of running July 17th in New Hampshire. Former Utah Republican Gov. John Huntsman also appeared at the same event and wouldn’t rule out running, although he did say he would only do so if he thought he could win.
I had the pleasure of getting to know both Manchin and Huntsman and founder Nancy Jacobson quite well 13 years ago. As a businessman who never did much in politics up until then, my life changed when I became very involved with No Labels and served on its executive board. At the time I was frustrated with the suffocating partisanship that I witnessed as a bystander to our political process that I believe most Americans abhor. I became a spokesperson along with many others urging citizens to be more aware of what I called the political circus, so they could become less susceptible to the common fallacy tactics designed to mislead and divide Americans.
The No Labels initial tag line, “Not left, not right, forward” and their problem solving approach to governance were appealing to me. I received a positive response as I spoke to many citizens across the country urging them to sift through the barrage of exaggeration, innuendo, and half-truths that define the political fray every election year and vote for leaders with integrity and courage.
I advocated then as I do now a higher standard from our elected representatives. A new paradigm of politics; one based on civil political discourse, critical thinking and personal accountability can and should be demanded by the electorate of its leadership, and the time to do so is now.
No Labels was the perfect fit for my frustration. Their bi-partisan approach urging American leaders and citizens alike to declare their freedom from the anger and divisiveness that is ruining our politics and most importantly our country resonated with me.
Much has happened since 2012 for me personally and for our country.
In 2015, I came to realize there were many organizations working to reform our democratic republic, each working independently of each other with little interaction or coordinated agenda. For this reason, I, along with others co-founded the Bridge Alliance, a community of over 60 organizations with an extended network of nearly 600, all brought together to unify, support and amplify their respective impacts in the social and political reform space. We believe that our nation will be stronger if diversity becomes our operating system. While legislation will play a useful role, we also need leaders who understand the challenges of the diverse population of America. These leaders will help us see our nation is stronger for our differences, not despite them and will work to bring us together rather than further divide us for the sake of winning their next election.
And so today as I access the No Labels plan, I like many of my colleagues involved in the democracy reform movement are conflicted. On the one hand, I strongly believe that we must get beyond the Democrat and Republican duopoly that controls our country’s agenda and demand a new politics that allows room for people from different parties and with different beliefs to sit around a table and make the tough decisions everyone knows need to be made. And we need to trust in the intentions of the loyal opposition to be a differing perspective for the public good. No Labels and their caucus has been modeling this for more than a decade.
Yet, as in life, timing is everything in politics, so despite my strong belief in the need for change, I am concerned about the harsh reality that even though I believe in the many of reform principles advocated by No Labels I also believe that the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States would be a significant danger to the rule of law in our nation and to the defense and protection of our constitution. For this reason I do not support the No Labels effort
Nancy Jacobson, founder of and leader of No Labels, argues that this fear is unwarranted; that a ticket comprising a centrist Democrat and centrist Republican will actually win and promises that if No Labels doesn’t think this is the case they will abandon the effort. What are the specific criteria that will drive this Decision? When will this decision be made?
Furthermore for those who contend that the strategy will backfire and result in former President Trump getting elected she responds:
“As a Democrat? Categorically, that will not happen,” Jacobson said in response to a question over concerns that a third-party ballot could take away votes from President Biden. “This effort will never — we'll pull it down.”
Unlike many, I do not question No Labels’ motivation for its plan. I was very fortunate to work with Jacobson, Governor Huntsman, and Senator Manchin when No Labels was first created more than 10 years ago. I believe the motives are genuine and consistent with No Labels’ public mission to create “a national movement of common sense Americans pushing our leaders tougher to solve our country's biggest problems.”
In this our interests are aligned despite having differences as to tactics and timing. Due to the risks, uncertainties and unintended consequences, I would much prefer No Labels’ focus to instead be on independent candidates for Congress and the Senate in 2026.