No Labels, No Brains
They’ll appeal to Never Trumpers, and nobody else
Bryan Zepp Jamieson
November 12th, 2023
Progressives have been all a-flutter over the so-called “moderate movement” calling itself “No Labels.” In fact, it’s neither moderate nor a movement. It lacks a platform, a goal, a focus, identifiable leadership or, for that matter, actual followers. I don’t think it even has House or Senate candidates yet.
The fuss ratcheted up this week when Joe Manchin (D-Coal) announced he wouldn’t be running for office again. Rumors immediately started that he would be the lead presidential candidate for the No Hopers instead of ancient Joe Lieberman (D-AIPAC). This would surely split the Democratic vote, giving Trump a second term even if he only got 38% of the vote, like Lincoln did. (Astute readers will note that I don’t perceive any other similarities between Trump and Lincoln, starting with the fact that Lincoln didn’t look like a Kewpie Doll mated with a Bratwurst).
Of course, Manchin has no popularity at all with any Democrats outside of West Virginia. He’s no more popular than Joe Lieberman or Kyrsten Sinema. He, like those other two, is a corporate creature, more likely to vote with the Heritage Foundation than with Joe Biden. The Foundation (which I often refer to as the National Association of Zealots and Ideologues) had considerable sway in the Democratic Party starting with Bill Clinton, when the “New Democratic” wave embraced the stances of moderate Republicans and weakened labor and consumer rights and gave big business free rein.
Adopting “Reaganomics Lite” worked out about the way Reaganomics did, and now the bloom has fallen off that particular rose. You may have noticed that labor unions have staged a huge comeback in recent years, and voter approval of unions has risen from a low in the high thirties twenty years ago to the mid seventies now. Largely successful attacks on women’s rights, voter rights, and the rights of minorities have sharpened focus on the realization that the American right is no ally to the American people. Even if you don’t care about women, voters or minorities, you have to be pretty damned daft not to realize that they will come for you next.
Being pro-business isn’t a great voter draw when most voters are realizing that big business is not their friend and savior.
Joe Manchin would be running as the Heritage Foundation candidate, which means he’ll be effectively be the Libertarian candidate, and he’ll stay very quiet about civil rights, income equality, and the rights of workers and consumers. He’ll be in the extremely awkward position of hoping the zealots and neo-nazis will continue to loudly identify with Trump whilst secretly voting for him, which isn’t very likely.
In theory, Joe Lieberman is supposed to draw the Jewish vote, but I don’t think he did that very well in 2000 when he was Al Gore’s running mate. I suspect most American Jews who voted Democratic looked at Lieberman, held their noses, and voted for Al Gore because they liked Al Gore. And now his perceived ties to Netanyahu will flat-out alienate him from most Jews and a large majority of Democratic voters. Even if the slaughter in Gaza ended tomorrow, it’s the sort of thing voters will remember a year later. There was a time when supporting Netanyahu meant you were pro-Israel and thus one of the good guys, but Netanyahu’s viciousness and corruption has made that a thing of the past.
Speaking of viciousness and corruption, there’s the matter of Trump. The media are frantically pretending that he isn’t just viable, but the only possible candidate the Republicans will have next year. That makes several large assumptions. First, there’s the very real possibility that Trump will be appealing several large felony convictions before the election, if not flat-out in jail. If some idiot tries to shoot one of the judges or court officials and then blabs that he did it for Trump, Trump’s odds of staying out of prison effectively drop to zero. Trump might say something under oath that will really finish him off, legally, such as boasting that he sold national secrets to Putin. That might sound like an insane thing for him to do, but that’s another issue in itself that I’ll get to in a minute. Two minutes, if you’re a slow reader.
Second, the fiasco that is the House of Representatives may alienate millions of voters from the GOP. They’ve tried like hell to blame Democrats for that insane mess, but that hasn’t worked. If they blow it with the budget next week (and I’m as close to certain as I will ever get that they will) voters will know it was they who fucked things up. Blaming the bad economy on the Democrats won’t work.
Third, public outrage over such things as the Dobbs decision and gerrymandering isn’t going away, and the No Labels crowd don’t dare take a stand on those. Remember, they want to play footsie with the MAGAts and don’t want to piss them off without sounding like the Me-Tooers running against Trump in the GOP.
Third is the matter of age. Manchin is mentally and physically in far better shape than Trump, but he’s no spring chicken. He was born in 1947, which means he’ll be 77 next year. Trump, if he’s still alive, will be 79, and Biden 81. Guess which of the three I think is in the best shape, physically and mentally? Bingo! In one. Biden, of course. Manchin is close. Trump isn’t.
As for Trump, if he isn’t dead or in jail, there’s a possibility he’ll be drooling in a wheelchair and slapping irritably but ineffectually at the day nurse who is trying to feed him his Ensure. The man is in bad shape and declining rapidly. When he isn’t insisting that he’s still the President, he now seems to think Obama is still the President.
His speeches are getting wilder and nastier. He’s actually using some of the same language that Hitler used, saying that liberals and socialists are “vermin” who need to be eradicated. His followers may be the biggest bunch of dumb bastards in American history, but at least some of them are going to notice just how dangerously erratic he has become, and look to Manchin as an alternative.
So: let’s assume a three way race next year. The Greens aren’t going to matter, especially since Biden has adopted a lot of their platform, and the No Labels will make the Libertarians redundant. Three candidates: Biden, Trump, Manchin.
Trump maght get about 30% of the vote. His ceiling is 35%, and his floor is about 20%, assuming he stays out of jail and is still capable of running. Manchin might get 10% of the Democratic vote, and it’s reasonable to assume he’ll get the Never-Trumper Republican vote. So he might get 30% of the vote. Maybe. Americans generally don’t like third party candidates, and if the No Labels party don’t get cracking and get candidates in all 435 Congressional races and 34 Senate races, then their presidential candidate will be a no-hoper fluke, doomed even if he could somehow win.
That leaves Biden with a rock-bottom minimum of 40% of the vote, and that’s assuming a sour economy and the House getting its act together, if too late for the economy. Realistically, the vote would probably go 60-25-15 and Biden would win 40 states. Most of the independent voters would go for him, and Manchin will peel off far more Republican votes than Democratic.
So ignore the pundits who say Manchin has doomed Biden and the Democrats. The opposite is true.
This election remains Biden’s to lose.