No Labels.

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To the right is a list of featured speakers for No Label's official launch webcast. If you were looking for a reason to be skeptical of the enterprise, there it is. With few exceptions, this is a who's who of figures devoted to furthering Beltway conventional wisdom and its agenda of gutless, pro-corporate "centrism." And indeed, given its mission of "putting labels aside" and putting "issues" first, it's no surprise that No Label can count support from the likes of Joe Lieberman and Charlie Crist; in practice, this is all shorthand for ignoring voter preferences and forcing them to accept more and greater accommodation with the status quo. 

You don't actually need to look far to see the anti-democratic, pro-establishment element embedded in No Label. Here is a portion from the organization's "statement of purpose:"

Just as citizen movements have played an important role in America since its inception, it is time for another movement, one based on No Labels and the merit of ideas. Thanks to the technological innovation available today, we can break down the old hierarchies of power and influence. True Democracy is possible today because we can tether together online, share our concerns and ideas, and exert enormous influence. Today, we join together and connect with one another, and we can make all our voices heard as our Founding Fathers intended.

This sounds attractive, but it amounts to a bizarro version of the founding vision; rather than empower interests and individuals through institutions, No Label wants to create policy through a unified vision that subsumes those interests to some ill-defined "national good." When the truth is that the United States is too large and diverse to have anything close to a "national good." Indeed, the genius of our system is that it doesn't try to create a single voice as much as it attempts to give each voice it's own stake in the process. 

It should be said that judging from the statement of purpose, this "shared vision and common purpose" is a prettied-up version of the establishment wish list: slashed entitlements, unrestrained corporate power, and a powerful national-security state. The irony of it all is that No Label's agenda is as ideological as the liberalism and conservatism it decries. The difference, of course, is that liberalism and conservatism draw from electoral support. In one way or another, these dreaded ideologies -- and the parties they animate -- represent the varied interests of America's voters. By contrast, No Label's centrism is the sole province of a handful of mostly unaccountable elites.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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