More on No Labels

More on the No Labels label problem.

Christopher Beam in Slate has a good piece (Read the Label) on the No Labels group that I noted in earlier post today.  Indeed, he makes some of the points I made (or, at least, that I was trying to make).  The most important being:

Everything you need to know about the new political group No Labels is contained in its slogan: “Not Left. Not Right. Forward.” It’s smug. It sounds like an Obama campaign catchphrase. And it ignores the whole reason politics exists, which is that not everyone agrees on what “Forward” is.

Emphasis mine.  This is what I was getting at in terms of the linguistic shorthand that labels provide to political parties.  He later reiterates and expands the point:

Perhaps the greatest achievement of No Labels is to show why labels exist in the first place. They’re so busy talking about what they’re not—not Republican, not Independent, not conservative, not liberal—you never get a handle on what they are. Labels are a useful shortcut for voters who want to know what a group is all about. The lack of a positive mission beyond bipartisanship and civility (which both Republicans and Democrats also call for) makes it hard to know what they really want.

Beam further notes that the issue is not  one of lack of civility in our politics, it is a lack of agreement.  Bipartisanship tends to occur when the party, you know, agree on something.  Given that the politicians inhabit two different parties should be the first clue that there isn’t all that much agreeing going on (apropos to this notion:  a tweet from Duncan Black).

h/t: The Monkey Cage

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter