No labels are better than a bad label

Who is more likely to call for an end to political labels, someone whose views are widely branded by a label that puts off their fellow Americans or someone whose views are associated with a more popular label? The question answers itself, and helps explain why, when Byron York attended the “No Labels” rollout in New York City, he found that the event had a decidedly leftist flavor.
Although Democrats and Republicans have battled on essentially even terms for the past two decades, the battle between the two labels associated (albeit at times loosely) with these parties – liberal and conservative – has not been even. Americans have tended to self-identify as conservative more than liberal, and this is particularly true today.
Many liberals reacted to the erosion of their brand by changing labels. They became self-identified “progressives.” Although this was a shrewd move, it has been undermined by the large-scale unpopularity of the policies served up by progressives the first time (in modern history) that they governed under that label.
The alternative to re-labeling is de-labeling. And, though most progressives seem willing to stick with the progressive label for a while longer, some nervous nellies have concluded that resisting labels – and hoping that conservatives somehow will be shamed into following suit – will better serve their interests.
No wonder, then, that Byron came away from the rollout event thinking that “No Labels seems to have been primarily for Democrats seeking to portray themselves as centrist.” If, meanwhile, the progressive or liberal label makes a comeback, the left-leaning No Labelists can always call the whole thing off.


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