Fixing Political Imbalances in the USA

The No Labels “Movement”

No Labels bills itself as a responsible and bipartisan third-party alternative, although they eschew the idea that they’re a party. But, it can’t be “bipartisan” if it’s a third party, technically that would make it a coalition party. But I digress…

Their major flaw, in my opinion, is that they frame themselves by the Left/Right narrative of extremes, which is a little disingenuous following the last 60 years of US political history where the extremists have mostly—but not entirely, I will freely admit—been on the political Right. By doing so, No Labels is making an appeal to emotion of the voter by painting with too broad a brush. This hypothesis argues that “because we’ve seen so much extremism on one side, both sides are equally at fault.” This is the same “Fair and Balanced” fallacy that we often see in bad journalism.

Their other major flaw is that they are, at this point, completely opaque, not disclosing the sources of their funding nor the names or roles of their donors. This “Dark Money” philosophy is exactly what brought us the over-the-top attack ads of the late 1990s and 2000s on to today, driving the political dialogue further and further apart.

A plethora of minor flaws aside, because both the Democrats and the Republicans have a cornucopia each, these two major flaws make this “movement” a bit suspicious. I, for one, immediately don’t believe the middle-of-the-road language on their website right off the bat because the framing presents them as a messiah but their non-existent donor list tells me that their motivations are completely obscured from scrutiny. If you’re going to take the position that everyone sucks and you’re the way forward to peace and prosperity, you’ve got to stand by that position and tell the people where you’re getting your money from (i.e., to whom do you owe favours).


The House Problem Solvers Caucus is the genesis of the No Labels “movement,” which, if you’re not a political junkie like me, you may not even have been aware of. This is because the PSC is, mostly, an ineffectual group of Congresscritters with little to no record of accomplishment solving major policy or legislative disputes, despite the name.

Hailing from the arrival of the Tea Party in 2009, the PSC claims as its singular, major legislative accomplishment the resurrection of the “COVID relief package back in the last weeks of the Trump administration.” Apparently, that took 12 years.

Beliefs & Policy Positions

Couched in the language of Newt Gingrich and Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority” movement in the 1990s—things like “common sense” and “silent majority” abound in their policy paper—No Labels is, again, appealing to emotion, not reason.

[…] we see our two major political parties dominated by angry and extremist voices driven by ideology and identity politics rather than what’s best for our country.

Common Sense, page 4
No Labels’ policy paper

I’ll point out that the culture war and the identity politics are rooted firmly in the Republican Party today. Whereas Democrats are trying to put more money in peoples’ pockets and restoring good governance by fixing revenue problems at the IRS (repeatedly underfunded by Republicans), restoring the progressive tax structure (displaced by Reaganomics in the 1980s), releasing student debt burdens (blocked by an illegitimate Supreme Court), reinvesting in infrastructure and job creation (opposed by Republicans), combatting global inflation post-pandemic (opposed by Republicans), and reducing energy costs (blocked by Republicans in Congress), the Republican Party is trying to legislate which books you and your children can and cannot read, legislate trans people out of existence, legislate Donald Trump back into the White House, and spend millions of taxpayer dollars on frivolous investigations of the President’s son…

How’s that workin’ out for ya so far? Are things better now than they were before the 2022 midterms? Do you see effective and meaningful legislation being passed?

I mention all of this to point out, again, that this framing is disingenuous. The “both sides” argument has been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked. While neither party is perfect—and they definitely are not!—there’s only one party actively working to worsen the state of the country in the pursuit of money and power. Framing the situation any differently is dishonest and dangerous.

Anyway, I’m only going to pull out a few of their positions for brief rebuttal as there are 30 of them listed in their white paper. I don’t really disagree with everything listed in the Common Sense paper, but I certainly don’t agree with everything either. Here we go…

1. America can’t solve its biggest problems and deliver the results hardworking taxpayers want, need, and deserve unless Democrats and Republicans start working together side by side on bipartisan solutions.

While this seems to be true on its face, I will, once again, point out that it is the rogue Republican Party that is the over-the-top obstructionist in most cases and the party enacting legislation against the will of the people. So, again, the framing here is disingenuous and dangerous. We can’t fix the problem until we acknowledge the problem.

3. Washington must stop spending so much more than it takes in. From now on, the annual budget should be reasonable and responsible, which means our national debt needs to stop growing faster than our economy.

This one, too, seems to be a no-brainer. But, again, the Republican Party shifted our progressive tax structure to a very regressive structure (a.k.a., Reaganomics or “Trickle Down Economics”) in the 1980s. We do have a revenue problem, but only because we don’t allow the federal government to take in appropriate revenue from the ultra-wealthy and corporations.

10. Americans have a constitutional right to own guns, but society also has a responsibility to keep dangerous weapons away from dangerous people.

This is incorrect. See my post on the Heller Decision.

12. Every child in America should have the right to a high-quality education. No child should be forced to go to a failing school.

Stop defunding public education and there won’t be any “failing” schools. Problem solved!

26. America must strike a balance between protecting women’s rights to control their own reproductive health and our society’s responsibility to protect human life.

What? No. America must not “strike a balance” between a woman’s rights to control their own reproductive health and autonomy and anything. End of story. Women’s rights are human rights.

30. Building more homes in America will make housing more affordable for Americans.

This is not necessarily true. It’s not a bad idea, but it’s also not a guaranteed way to reduce housing prices and increase affordability. But what would definitely make housing more affordable is regulation on rental and housing prices and vacancy!

The Real Problem

The real problem we have in the United States is not a lack of options, or even candidates that no one likes. What we have in the United States is a severely distorted system, mostly because of the machinations of one party over the last 60 years. As I have opined multiple times, the United States federal system is really a work of genius. But it can only function when all of its constituent parts are operating as intended, which can only happen when politicians act in good faith. And, as we’ve seen since Reagan, there’s an intransigent motive on the Right to pervert the system to accomplish ends counter to the public will. This “ends justify the means” approach to self governance that we’ve been living through has resulted in the current rancorous and divisive climate we experience today. So let’s look at the systemic issues at the root of the problem and then discuss why a third-party candidate isn’t really preferable for our system.

Systemic Issues

There are multiple issues that the Republican Party has been working for decades to weave into our political system that make it difficult to properly and efficiently operate according to the intent and letter of the law. However, when your car battery dies, you don’t throw out the entire vehicle and buy a new one! You replace the damn battery and fix the problem. Just so, the proper response to this conundrum is not to discard the two-party system in favour of a “third way.”

Let’s look at three of the biggest hurdles to the proper function of the United States government today…


Of these issues, gerrymandering is, by far, the most nuanced and diabolical. From gerrymandered districts, Republican politicians wield enormous power to choose their voters and control the political process at the State and National levels.

Gerrymandering perverts the whole function of our government and political system; by allowing politicians to select their voters instead of the voters selecting their politicians/representatives, the very idea of representative democracy is subverted in favour of an oligarchy. Districts should be uniform, compact, and contiguous such that they faithfully group residents by shared interests geographically. Right now, we allow humans with agendas (i.e., the very legislators standing for reelection) to draw the district maps for each state—which dictates local-state and national representation—but if we enacted legislation or constitutional amendments that mandated specific rules for district maps and/or implemented computer-generated (with human approval) maps based on principles of uniformness, compactness, and contiguousness, we’d have an impartial and standardised system. This would prevent the perversion of the decennial Census results and allow voters to once again choose their representatives.

It may not seem like a huge issue, because it only gets talked about in the news media once or twice every 10 years, but this is the mechanism by which the Republican Party has established and maintained its broad-reaching strangle hold on American politics over the last 60 years.

Senate Hacking

This is an old one, but it’s valid none-the-less. As I’ve mentioned before, you cannot gerrymander the Senate. But you can hack it. By admitting the Dakota Territory into the Union as two states rather than one state, the Republican Party hacked the Senate in 1889 by giving itself four Senators instead of two.

The Senate has also not been updated for too long, for example, the District of Columbia and the Territories have no representation in the Senate (or the House of Representatives, for that matter!), which disenfranchises millions of citizens of the United States their representative(s) in the legislative process. This is untenable.

Quite simply put: the Senate needs to be overhauled and have its rules revised and updated.

Court Packing

This one is more recently relevant as we saw the Trump Administration fill vacancies on the federal bench at a blistering pace, nominating and confirming young, inexperience, and—in some cases—highly unqualified jurists to lifetime appointments. This swing to the right in the federal judiciary will have long-lasting detrimental effects on the country for decades to come.

I believe an acceptable—albeit rather extreme—response is to reexamine these judicial appointments and to impeach and remove those jurists whose qualifications and bar recommendations do not meet an established standard. (Seriously, there are numerous Trump appointees for whom the Bar Association said the nominees were “not qualified.”) New appointments must then be made to fill those vacancies according to the aforementioned standard. We need an impartial judiciary who can apply the law according to the facts and be able to put their personal feelings and ideologies aside for the greater good.

A great example of court packing is the current Supreme Court of the United States. Remember that President Obama nominated Merrick Garland—the current Attorney General—to SCOTUS, but Mitch McConnell obstructed his confirmation—which was counter not only to McConnell’s oath of office but also to the United States Constitution. Donald Trump should only have had two appointments to SCOTUS, no matter how you slice it. If McConnell was correct in his implication that no appointments be made in the year running up to a General Election, then Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrettt should have been blocked. But if he was wrong (which he most certainly was), then Merrick Garland should have been confirmed and Trump wouldn’t have had the opportunity to appoint Neil Gorsuch. In either case, we shouldn’t have a 6-3 conservative super majority on the highest court in the land. It should be, at most, 5-4. (And if we want the Supreme Court to reflect the population, it should be a 5-4 liberal majority, based on numerous polls and other data about the makeup of the US populace.)

However, in the case of the SCOTUS, it’s very unlikely that there will be any reappointment procedure undertaken, indeed it’s equally unlikely that the rest of the Federal Judiciary will undergo anything similar. The only responsible thing to do with SCOTUS, in this case, is to expand the court. There are currently 13 Federal Districts in the judicial system, but only nine Justices on the Supreme Court, each of whom oversees at least one lower court district. So, let’s make the numbers match! In fact, Senator Ed Markey has a bill before the Senate to do just that, the Judiciary Act of 2023. I also think that Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s SCERT Act is an important reform and that we should press Congress to reassume its authority to govern the SCOTUS docket.

Congress has the authority to manage the SCOTUS docket and has done so for a majority of the Court’s existence, up until 1925 when it abdicated the certiorari power to the Court. It is time to reclaim that authority and set the Court back on a responsible, agenda-free path.

Why a Third-party Candidate is Not Preferable for President

Because the United States elects the President directly—rather than indirectly, like a Prime Minister in, say, the United Kingdom or Belgium—the office doesn’t rise from a coalition within the legislature in order to govern. And it’s this difference that makes a third-party candidate for the presidency a—rather frustratingly—bad idea. On its face, sure, a third party sounds great! But in reality, with fewer or no allies in Congress, a third-party President would have little political capital to spend in Washington, thereby making them rather ineffective as the executive, especially in an era where political divisions are so intense.

As a directly elected office—if you’ll forgive the oversimplification of the Electoral College for a moment—the Presidency needs to have allies in the majority in at least one house of Congress to get anything done. We’ve seen this evidenced over and over again since the 1970s. This is dramatically different from indirectly elected executives, such as Prime Ministers, where the legislature’s majority—or a coalition forming the majority—selects from its membership the executive. In both cases, the executive needs allies in the majority, but in the indirect case if the coalition doesn’t hold together, the government collapses and new elections must be held. In a direct case, if the coalition doesn’t hold together or no majority or coalition exists to begin with, then the result is gridlock. Gridlock is bad because nothing gets done.

Now, I know what you’re thinking… many other countries have Presidents and Prime Ministers and that situation doesn’t happen. BUT! I urge you to reexamine those other countries’ governmental structures. In all of those cases, the Head of State is the President, like ours is in the US. But the Head of Government is the Prime Minister, whereas ours is also the President. Because those two powers are vested in the same office in the United States, we have a different situation entirely to parliamentary systems.

While a third party candidate for President may one day be viable, today it simply is not due to the partisan divide in Washington. In order to fix this, we can’t start at the top and work our way down, we have to start at the bottom and work our way up, which is why I strongly and vehemently oppose any effort from No Labels to stand up a presidential ticket in 2024.


Please, please, please VOTE in every election—primary and general, special, local, state, and national—for progressive candidates! Do your research on the candidates and cast your ballot for those individuals who you most closely align with on important issues. Don’t fall for spoiler candidates and don’t vote for regressive trolls. No matter how difficult they try to make it, no matter how “inconvenient” it may seem, vote. This is genuinely an unfathomably important part of our collective lives and complacency has led is to this present disaster of mismanagement. The only thing that will save us is engaged, active civic responsibility.

Taken from Common Sense, No Labels’ policy white paper, pages 8 – 12.