“Strike a balance” on abortion access. Promote “all-of-the-above” energy production. Act now to address Social Security solvency. Stop releasing asylum applicants into the country. Protect transgender people from discrimination while restricting gender education in elementary schools.
Such ideas anchor the new political middle ground that the moderate group No Labels proposed Saturday as a starting point for a possible third-party presidential bid next year.
The broad statements of principle, compiled in book form and scheduled for a rollout Monday in New Hampshire, claims to be a “blueprint for where America’s common sense majority wants the country to go.”
The 63-page document is short on specific proposals but filled with the group’s so-far frustrated ambitions to reimagine the structure of the nation’s polarized two-party politics. Solutions would be bipartisan. Compromise would be encouraged. And partisan red lines would be replaced by a sense of national solidarity.
“We feel very confident in saying what is in here is another road map for where most Americans want the country to go,” No Labels senior adviser Ryan Clancy said of the document. “It leaves plenty of space for candidates and leaders to decide how to get there.”
The group is working across the country to get state ballot access for a potential third-party presidential run next year, sparking widespread concern from Democrats and anti-Trump conservatives that the effort could aide the election of former president Trump. Former Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) are preparing to launch a group next week to undermine No Labels’ ambitions.
No Labels’ leaders have said they will only field a ticket if there is a clear path to victory, which has not been accomplished by a third-party contender since the inception of the current two-party system. The group has said any presidential candidates nominated at a No Labels convention next year will have full autonomy to create their own policy platforms, making the “Common Sense” document released Saturday little more than a starting point to spur more debate.
“We want to spur a conversation that is just not happening on a lot of issues,” Clancy said.
Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) will headline an event Monday in New Hampshire to kick off the conversation. Manchin, as a supporter of No Labels, has not ruled out running as a presidential candidate on the group’s ticket.
Many of the proposals in the No Labels plan are long-standing ideas that have not yet found majority support in Washington: a bipartisan deficit reduction commission that would produce a plan that Congress had to vote on without amendment. Tort restructuring to restrict medical malpractice lawsuits. More price transparency for hospital bills, and patent restructuring to encourage generic biologic drug production.
Other proposals have for years been blocked in the U.S. Senate, like a plan for universal background checks for gun purchases, a plan to ban gun purchases by anyone under the age of 21 and a plan to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented migrants brought to the United States as children.
Still others depend on dissolving dominant framing of social issues. On the issue of abortion, No Labels avoids taking a stand on what point in a pregnancy abortion should be allowed, but rather argues that the issue needs to be reframed with “empathy and respect” to reflect the mixed results of public polling.
“Most American do not support a total ban on abortion and most Americans do not support unlimited access to abortion at the later stages of pregnancy,” the document reads. Clancy said the group did extensive polling in late 2022 to help divine the popular middle ground on key issues.
The group seeks a similar middle ground on transgender debates. The group argues that most Americans support laws that protect transgender people from discrimination, while they also “don’t want sexuality and gender issues taught to young children in elementary schools and do want fairness in women’s sports.”
“If our leaders consider this issue from a position of dignity, respect, and common sense, they can ensure all Americans have the full measure of respect and equality they deserve, while giving parents a say in when and how their kids learn about sensitive issues of gender and sexuality,” the group concludes.