Letters to the Editor | August 2, 2023


Not every third party is a spoiler

In his piece “No Labels is Trump’s Trojan Horse” (Opinion, July 27), Michael Gelman makes a number of deliberately misleading assertions that are by now familiar to us at No Labels. Let’s deconstruct them one at a time.

His central claim is that No Labels will help elect Donald Trump. To support this, he offers only one single data point, and it’s flimsy. He claims that third parties can only play spoiler in presidential contests because that was the fate of Ralph Nader, Jill Stein and Ross Perot.

Taking the first two, Ralph Nader in 2000 received only 2.7% of the popular vote while Jill Stein in 2016 received only 1.07%, meaning neither candidate was actually viable or competitive in the race. Compare that to No Labels, which is already attracting 20% in some early polls. This makes us much more comparable to Gelman’s third example, Ross Perot, who received 18.9% of the vote in 1992 despite having already dropped out of the race. And what was the outcome? Bill Clinton — the Democrat in the race — was elected president.

The assertion that a third party candidate “always” plays spoiler by electing the Republican is patently false given the example of Perot, who is by far the closest analogue to No Labels. Further, research on Perot’s candidacy proved that, actually, he wasn’t a spoiler at all. Research published in the book “Change and Continuity” on the 1992 elections shows Perot pulled an equal amount of votes from both political parties.


No Labels has conducted our own extensive polling — the most extensive that we know of on the 2024 race by any organization — and it showed that we would have the same effect as Perot: pulling equally from Democrats and Republicans. It also showed that the parties have been shedding their center because they have moved too far to the extremes, and this has created an opening for an independent ticket unlike what we have ever seen in modern American politics. If it’s a rerun of 2020 with Trump v. Biden, 59% of voters say they would consider another choice. That is more than enough to make No Labels not a spoiler, but a victor.

But Gelman makes no attempt to counter these facts. He then turns his lie into an insult by stating that No Labels wouldn’t merely elect Trump by accident, but on purpose. To build this preposterous case, he claims that our organization isn’t run by me, who founded it and has led it for 14 years, but rather by my husband, Mark Penn, a former Clinton adviser that — gasp — has gone on Fox News and therefore must be a disciple of Donald Trump.

Setting aside the sexist nature of the claim that it must be the man running things, let’s look at the many other No Labels leaders that Gelman is calling Trump supporters: Ben Chavis, a revered Civil Rights leader; Republican Larry Hogan, the former Maryland governor who NPR called “one of his party’s fiercest critics of Donald Trump”; Joe Lieberman, a former Democratic senator and Democratic nominee for vice president; and numerous Democrats like Joe Cunningham, a former member of Congress from South Carolina, who worked with No Labels through the House Problem Solvers Caucus.

Gelman’s arguments don’t bear up to scrutiny. So what’s the truth?

The truth is that No Labels has a 14-year track record of getting bipartisan results for the American people. We hear every day from Americans who are members of the exhausted commonsense majority that feel abandoned by the two parties. They don’t want a rematch between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, yet that is what the parties appear poised to give them.

Our focus is getting on the ballot in all 50 states for a potential independent unity ticket in 2024 — but this is an insurance policy only. We will utilize it only if the majority of Americans are unsatisfied with their two choices. We have pledged to conduct extensive polling about our ticket before entering the race. If the results show that we will be a spoiler, we won’t offer our ballot line to any campaign. If they show that we have no shot of winning, we won’t offer our ballot line to any campaign. We have promised this from the beginning.

The other truth that our critics ignore is that No Labels has a constitutional right to organize voters for the purpose of gaining ballot access. This right is defended in the First Amendment and has been upheld numerous times. Our critics on the left style themselves as champions of democracy and voters’ rights, yet actively work to suppress and silence the voters who support our movement. Those who deny a ballot drive are no better than those who attempt to stop voter registration drives out of fear of who those voters might support.

The fact that both parties have such a visceral and reflexively negative reaction to our effort is proof of why we’re needed. The two-party duopoly is interested in preserving the status quo no matter how broken it is, because it is the source of their power. Any threat to the status quo will be met with exasperated attempts to sow fear and confusion. That’s what is happening here, and our bet is that most Americans — enough Americans — will see these lies for what they are.

Nancy Jacobson is co-founder and CEO of No Labels.


A Label for Biden and Trump

Regarding “No Labels Isn’t the Problem” (Editorial, July 22) and “No Labels Is Trump’s Trojan Horse” (Opinion, July 27):

As a longtime Washingtonian and physician born into a New Deal family, I support No Labels. While I remain a registered Democrat, in truth I’m a moderate and independent. I don’t want a replay of the 2020 presidential election. Seventy percent of Americans are in agreement with this view while 60% of registered Democrats don’t want four more years of Biden-Harris.

We can agree that Trump the individual is deranged and not worthy of a second term. Biden is a career politician, mostly as a senator, who has accomplished nothing of note other than being elected president because he wasn’t Trump. He is old and, to me, physically and mentally impaired. If Biden becomes incapacitated, our country will be led by the vacuous vice president, Kamala Harris.

The Democratic party establishment would have us believe that Biden and his administration are exceptional. In this regard I must consider the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the anarchy in our urban centers, the fentanyl crisis, the epidemic of homeless encampments, the degradation of the health care system, the inability to attract military recruits and a non-existent immigration policy as less than stellar. There must be an alternative to Trump, Biden and Harris. America deserves better. ■
Barrett Burka, McLean

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