Reason Writers Around Town: Cathy Young on the "No Labels" Movement


Writing in The Boston Globe, Contributing Editor Cathy Young surveys the new No Labels organization and the state of American civic culture:

Just in time for the holidays, a new movement has arrived seeking to promote goodwill toward men (and women) across the political spectrum and to counter the nastiness and polarization that pervade our public discourse. Yet the group, called No Labels, has met with surprisingly nasty attacks from both left and right. Not only have its tactics been widely dismissed and ridiculed, but so have its noble goals.

Read all about it here.

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  1. It looks to me like this a bunch of establishment political types who are afraid they’re losing control over the debate, meaning nobody gives a damn what they think anymore. Deservedly so.

    1. I agree. Besides, it’s not labels and incivility that are the problem. The problems are venality, no conception of what limited government is all about, and a near total absence of understanding or concern about what their policies do to the country and to people.

    2. “No labels” is nothing but liberalism without a label.

    1. Aristocratic, she meant.

  2. Give me the most passionate partisan ideologue over any compromising, wishy-washy, please-everyone politician.

    I may not vote for them, but I like to know what someone stands for and that they will stand for it.

    1. Really, how about an accuracy in label movement for politicians? For instance, Obama probably wouldn’t have made it anywhere if he hadn’t run as a quasi-centrist, which he most assuredly is not.

  3. They don’t have any noble goals.

    They just want everybody else to shut up and agree with them.

    Their personal policy preferences are no more “objective” truth” than anyone else’s.

  4. No Lables is nothing more than branding. Really no different than this (or that India Arie chick who was packaged as I’m not packaged, I’m India Arie!):

  5. C’mon. I live in Tallahassee, I’ve watched Crist up close for years. I’ve got family in NYC who’ve lived under Nurse Bloomberg. Those guys are only serious about not being relegated to obscurity. You’ll pardon me if I call bullshit on the No Labels movement being about anything but a group of ‘3rd Way’ pols and pundits who got washed away by an electorate who doesn’t want anything to do with empty feel-good bullshit. There is nothing serious about them, they are not raising serious issues.

    1. Crist is a no-labels kind of guy. He’ll change labels on the fly to ensure that he gets or holds office.

      Incidentally, he’s proof that this movement is flat-out retarded. He ran on this idea that both the GOP and Democrats were full of shit, when, of course, everyone could see that he was only saying that to get elected. Just like these jokers.

      1. Having someone associated with that weathervane lecture me on getting past politics makes me angry enough to kick a puppy. A cute, happy puppy.

        1. I’ve viewed him as a totally useless political climber for most of his career in Florida politics. Couldn’t believe people would put him in the governor’s mansion. Fortunately, the mistake that is Charlie “Hamiltonian Tan” Crist is soon to be permanently rectified.

          1. I was given a pair of free tix to the inaugural ball next week. I think I’ll get out the tux, dust off the 2nd best monocle and take the girlfriend out to celebrate the latest rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic. I may try to eat my property tax worth in shrimp and key lime pie, unless the gf makes me behave.

            1. Scott is going to be an interesting experience. I hope the fiscal stuff improves, if nothing else.

        2. Touch that dog and I’ll have you executed.

  6. “Editor” trumps “contributing Editor,” thank god.

  7. Which raises the questions, what kind of photos does Cathy Young have in her possession?

  8. This is front page stuff. An attack against No Labels amount to attacks against the entire Cathy Youngian Fair and Balanced Dialectic.

    On the one hand, I would like to see a greater focus on issues and outcomes and less name calling, but on the other hand No Labels seems like they may be trying to shut down discussion. The truth is in between, and we are all wiser for recognizing that.

    1. My impression is she is a little slow. It takes her on average two years to catch up to speed on any given topic. Around the time of the next inauguration, they’ll publish an article from her that is a virtual palimpsest of Welch’s on No Labels.

      BTW, Cathy what are your thoughts on TARP these days?

  9. Rebranding is easier if you don’t have to replace your tarnished brand with anything.

  10. There has never been a time in US history when politics was “civil”. The “No Labels” crowd seems to want to return to a mythic past.

    Historical political debate seems more civil only because: (1) Historians skim out only the most coherent, concise and well worded political statements from history. Non-historians simply never see the foaming vitriol. (2) The vast majority of the political debate in any era simply never has any historical significance. We spend most of our time talking about things that our descendants will decided turned out to be trivial and meaningless. (3) We don’t understand historical culture well enough to understand when someone was being really awful to someone else. Statements that sound trivial to modern ears had great significance in the past e.g. publicly calling someone a “scoundrel” in the early 1800s was grounds for a slander suit.

    I think most people rightfully see any attempt to dictate that we “play nice” as an attempt to control speech. Hell, we can’t even agree on what “play nice” means.

    1. ^This
      Teddy Roosevelt once said of Taft that he was “…a puzzlewhip, a fathead, with the brains of a retarded hamster.” In a few generations the divisive issues of today will seem as quaint as the Anti-Mason Party or free coinage of silver.

  11. I would love to know where these “No Label”, “civil political discourse”-types got the idea that American political discourse has EVER been civil.

  12. Civility is fine when people aren’t openly conspiring to steal my shit and telling me how to (and whether I can) do just about anything.

  13. “We have known Cathy Young for many years, and we can attest that she lives up to the Nolabelists’ stated ideals. In her writings, she deals with almost any issue in a spirit of compromise, offering gentle criticism to both sides and coming down squarely in the middle. To our mind, this approach sometimes seems more formulaic than truly thoughtful–surely there are occasions on which the truth is on one side or the other–but our point here is that Young is consistently civil and respectful in tone.

    If she has joined the Nolabelists, however, she has fallen in with a bad crowd. John Avlon, whom she cites approvingly, is a prime example. This is a man whose signature is the label “wingnut,” which he applies to those–usually, though not always, on the right–whose politics he opposes. Last March, as we noted, he went so far as to invoke Nazi Germany in an effort to discredit opponents of ObamaCare. He preaches moderation and civility while practicing the opposite, sort of like a Unitarian Elmer Gantry.

    One might object that this is an argumentum ad hominem–that Avlon’s hypocrisy does not invalidate the beliefs he claims to hold. But then you encounter David Frum’s hypocrisy, and Michael Bloomberg’s, and Joe Scarborough’s, and you begin to suspect that Nolabelism is simply a fraud–that the Nolabelists are merely seeking an exclusive license to act like jerks. And then you wonder if it makes more sense to think of Cathy Young as being its only sincere exponent or its only real victim”…..OfTheWeb_h

    1. “you begin to suspect that Nolabelism is simply a fraud–that the Nolabelists are merely seeking an exclusive license to act like jerks”

      Miscreant politicians and pundits stealing and advocating stealing my rights and property are telling me I shouldn’t raise my voice. F**K THEM ALL. BASTARDS. TURDS. STATISTS. DISSEMINATORS of UNCTUOUS DUPLICITY. SOWERS of LIES. Die! Die! Die!

    2. But Mr. Avlon sounds so reasonable on John Bachelor’s program.

  14. Really? I never imagined that someone like Cathy Young would get behind the No Labels movement. She’s usually so good about taking one side of an issue and forcefully and confidently making her case.

  15. It’s such a retarded concept. Everybody wants to be called SOMEthing. Do the NoLabelists (for lack of a better term) want me to start referring to Dems & Repubs as “people who think the state should have more power than individuals” instead of statists? really?

  16. We’ve been through this “no labels” supposedly-centrist hooey before.

    John Anderson, 1980.

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