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The No Labels Dilemma: 2024 Is a Grudge Match Election

No one wants to be a “unity” candidate this year.

Sighs of relief or screams of alarm will be heard in campaign headquarters across the nation this morning as No Labels – the neophyte third-party presidential vehicle – announced that it would not be fielding a candidate for the 2024 election. The organization released a statement on Thursday, April 4, declaring that “No Labels is ending our effort to put forth a Unity ticket in the 2024 presidential election.”

Its dream of a unity candidate may well have been the poison pill, even in a year when most Americans don’t want the two leading contenders to run. The statement continued, contending that it “would only offer our ballot line to a ticket if we could identify candidates with a credible path to winning the White House. No such candidates emerged, so the responsible course of action is for us to stand down.”

Don’t Dismiss the Third-Party Approach

No Labels is correct in its assessment that there is a hunger for presidential choice beyond the duopoly; after all, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is consistently polling around 10%. But the group was seeking something beyond just another Perot-style challenge from the flank; it wanted a center-path candidate who appealed to both dominant ideologies. And that’s where its high ambitions ran aground.

It seems the country may have some unresolved issues that can only be dealt with by one final epic battle between left and right. The people – through the primary contests – have chosen their heroes, their political avatars, and are bracing for what may be (after countless prior claims) a truly significant election.

Cui Bono?

At both the Trump and Biden campaign headquarters this morning, electoral algebra will be served with the obligatory coffee. Determining whether the No Labels abdication is a boon or a bust is likely the only question on the table. Liberty Nation Senior Political Analyst Tim Donner provided the following insight:

“This development should benefit Donald Trump, at least on the margins. The No Labels movement could theoretically have drawn equally from both sides but likely more from Trump than Biden, who is one of four choices leftists already have for president, while the right has only one. And so, those moderate and right-of-center Trump skeptics who supported the likes of Nikki Haley in the primary now have no place to turn.”

Polling certainly backs this analysis. According to the Real Clear Politics average, Trump leads Biden in a national head-to-head by just 1.1%, but when other candidates are added to the mix (Robert F. Kenedy Jr., Cornel West, and Jill Stein), 45’s lead extends to 2.3%. Each of these candidates are bastions of the political left – and seem highly unlikely to shave points off Trump’s final count.

No Labels, No Unity?

The unity theme has become so dominant in modern politics that any hint of bipartisanship is lauded – but only when it favors the lauder’s agenda. During his inauguration speech, Joe Biden promised unity, and it is a refrain he has often reprised. But the reality of unity is a far bigger ask than the rhetoric. For all of his talk of uniting the nation, Mr. Biden all-too-often doles out fire and fury at Republican voters (MAGA voters in particular). Angry speeches delivered in shouting tones do not a uniter make. And who can forget his unequivocal denial of a key demographic’s blackness if they didn’t want to vote for him? Labeling Trump voters as extremists appears all in a day’s work for the sitting president.

And what of Donald Trump? Very few people would consider him a uniter-in-chief. In fact, his abrasive attitude is a major component to his success – and perhaps even some of his failures. Promises to Drain the Swamp are a far cry from a cri de cœur to unity. But it seems that these combative positions (of both Trump and Biden) are precisely what the public wants.

As demonstrated by the increasing number of independent voters, there is, without doubt, a growing market for a third-party ballot option. Yet it seems America wants an electoral reckoning before it can move on. The last eight years have been a contentious battlefield of rancor and regret, and it seems a grand denouement is the only path to catharsis.

Read More From Mark Angelides

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