[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible. ]
Dear Dr. Steve,
I am hearing about a new political movement in the U.S. called “No Labels.” What is it about?
Jen & Eric
Dear Jen & Eric,
“No Labels,” we are told, is a bold new force in American politics that could have a tremendous effect on government. It intends to strip away the meaningless political brands and categories that confine our thinking and free us from the constraints of dogma.
Think of the supermarket parallel. Go to a grocery store and what do you see? Labels, brands, boosted by massive corporate ad campaigns. Tear them away! Let the unmarked bottle of Sprite stand naked next to the unlabelled bottle of 7-Up and the unidentified bottle of bleach and the blank bottle of rubbing alcohol. Let each be judged on its merits. The proof is in the pudding, which may turn out to be a pod of laundry detergent. Only time and experience will tell.
No Labels brings that same refreshing philosophy to politics. Pushed by the likes of party-fluid former senator Joe Lieberman, the movement proclaims that current dissatisfaction with Democrats and Republicans means a third way must be found. That third way will supposedly lead America back to a golden age. Or at least, an orange one. The reality is that when you peel away that generic label you'll see you just bought a big, rancid bottle of Trump.
Names being touted by No Labels supporters include alleged Democrat Joe Manchin (as a presidential candidate), newly independent Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, and Robert Kennedy Jr. No one being supported by No Labels is in any danger of cutting into the Trump base, for the simple reason that the Trump base is made of the hardest substance known to humanity. Just as cockroaches are often predicted to survive a nuclear war, Trump's political support would endure if he nuked Los Angeles.
Thus any split in the vote can only help the Tangerine Traitor. And whatever its advocates say, that appears to be the likely result of the No Labels movement. It's probably no accident. As the group More Perfect Union reports, backers of No Labels include the same Harlan Crow who has recently made such a splash as a Nazi memorabilia collector and generous pal of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
There's some irony in a group called No Labels promoting Robert Kennedy Jr., a human brand akin to a whipped cream spray that turns out to be acrylic shower caulking. RFK Jr. brings to mind the 1997 movie Face/Off where psycho Nicholas Cage and strait-laced John Travolta swap faces. In this case the visage of the late Bobby Kennedy has been passed on to his son, thus putting a near-identical label on a very different package of goods.
To be clear, RFK Jr. is not an official No Labels candidate — his ostensible affiliation is with the Democrats. Many of his cheerleaders though will be found on the other side of the aisle. A guy with the name and face of a Kennedy is obviously poised to eat into President Biden's vote, and those who seek a return to Camelot may not be inclined to notice that this particular Kennedy is a vaccine conspiracy-pushing Dr. Fauci-basher who was once banned from Instagram for pushing anti-vax falsehoods.
And RFK Jr. does seem to have significant Democratic support at present.
All of this is to some degree a function of President Biden's stubbornly low poll numbers. The man has been having, by many metrics, a rather successful presidency. Yet the public perception of Biden as old and ineffectual seems well-entrenched. Among other things Dr. Steve blames inflation, that all-purpose stick opposition parties can use to bash political leaders the world over. It is depressing to contemplate the political effects of high gas prices — we might just as well be judging our emperors via the murmurations of swallows.
The vote splitting portended by No Labels is already shaping up in the Republican presidential primary campaign, where candidates like Nikki Haley, Tim Scott and Chris Christie divide the crumbs of anti-Trumpism, leaving Trump's adamantine support untouched.
But say Trump is convicted of one of the many crimes he is accused of committing, and faces jail or even sits behind bars. No way he becomes president then, right?
It’s true that Trump-targeted legal proceedings are lined up to land as regularly as summer superhero flicks, but we know by now that this affects his political fortunes as hamsters affect snakes.
Some observers, including Trump’s own former White House counsel, are even musing that he could win the election and pardon himself from within his cell.
So come January 2025 we could be looking at realistic scenarios in which a criminal president extends executive clemency over his own head like so much extra-hold hairspray. America will be labelled, all right — the same label found on several bankrupt casinos, some overpriced beef, and a fraudulent university.
American democracy — yet another Trump-brand project headed down the drain.
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