Streams

Why I’m Coming from Nebraska to Help Launch a Centrist Movement

Tuesday, December 07, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Why is a staunchly centrist independent blogger from Nebraska flying halfway across the country to go to the launch of a brand new political organization? That...is a heck of a good question.

Maintaining my blog, Rise of the Center, challenges me to keep my finger on the pulse of what is going on in the political blogosphere. Looking at the chatter from the last few weeks, No Labels is shaping up to be the best example of a political Rorschach test that I’ve seen in years.

Many on the left look at No Labels and see a conservative wolf in centrist clothing, ignoring the democrats and centrist independents who are throwing their support behind it. They’re myopically focusing on conservative supporters like David Frum, as well as Mark McKinnon, a long time Republican operative who is among the founders. On the right, they are more focused on the staff, many of whom are veterans of moderate Democratic groups like the Democratic Leadership Council and Third Way. Having another founder in Democratic operative Kiki McLean proves, to them, a left wing conspiracy is afoot.

These people cannot possibly know if there is a hidden agenda behind No Labels, nor can they know who the financial backers are who haven't come out publicly, but this doesn't stop them from pretending. Many are claiming that No Labels is a political party, laying the foundation for a Bloomberg Presidential run in 2012. If this had any truth to it, I'd actually be all for it, but they conveniently are ignoring that No Labels is a 501c4 (commonly called super PACs). I directed a "c4" in 2008, and two minutes of research would show that such organizations have strict limits on how much they can spend on partisan activities, not to mention outright bans on much of what political parties do.

I actually applied for a job there a few months ago (that I wasn't qualified for and didn't get, but it was worth the shot), and during that process I was able to peek behind the curtain to some of what was going on as they were setting up shop. They certainly don't pay any better than any other political organization out there, in other words...terribly. They didn't have an advertising budget to speak of. Looking for cheap or free options was a part of nearly every conversation and the platform they bought to run their mini social media site for supporters is, to be kind, not top shelf. Their situation may have changed more recently, but on the face of it, if they're sitting on a mountain of Bloomberg money, they're hiding it well.

As for all the theories flying around, John Avlon, centrist independent pundit on CNN, former Giuliani speechwriter and columnist at The Daily Beast, might say these folks have a variant of what he calls Obama or Bush derangement syndrome, where ideology has blinded them to such a degree that they can’t just see something for what it is. No Labels doesn’t fit into their artificial ideological worldview, so they pull off mental gymnastics to invent wingnut conspiracy theories about how the group must be a puppet of dark forces from the other end of the political spectrum.

These ad hominem attacks are one sign that No Labels is my kinda group. I put up with the same attacks every day myself.

I’ve been praying for years for a well organized, well funded and professionally run political organization that centrist independents like myself could genuinely be a part of without being treated like second class citizens. I’m happy to see them attempting to create a big tent where moderates from both sides can work together with centrist independents. If I were to put together a MoveOn for moderates, as some aptly are calling No Labels, it would look largely like what I have seen from them thus far.

Having been disappointed by the exclusion of moderates in both major parties, and several political organizations I've been active with over the years, I’m as skeptical as one can be. I was active with the Coffee Party for a time, even helping them revamp their national website, but it became clear very quickly that they were just another group luring centrists in to help them push a partisan agenda. I have high hopes for No Labels, in no small part because I have faith that John Avlon would not lead his fellow independents astray. But if they veer off course and become a shill for either side, I’ll be the one shouting their hypocrisy loudest from the rooftops.

Solomon Kleinsmith is a nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates. He is currently collaborating with other centrist independent and moderate bloggers on a news aggregation and social networking site, and is always looking for ways to help the independent groundswell as more and more people become disaffected with the two major parties.

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Comments [12]

Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

Haha, yeah... there is actually a Smithsonian in NYC apparently, but what I meant was the American Museum of Natural History.

Dec. 23 2010 11:40 AM
William Cerf from Brooklyn, NY

I'd like to check out a rumor that Dr. Lola Fulani is one of the people behind this group. I've been reluctant to get more involved with this group until I find out who is really behind this thing.

Dec. 10 2010 07:18 PM
Karen Casamassima

Ethics Alarms, December 5 post about "No Labels" is very informative -- written by a lawyer and ethicist. http://ethicsalarms.com/2010/12/05/joe-scarborough-sarah-palin-and-no-labels/

Dec. 09 2010 11:05 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

I guess to be a “Centrist” you need to be a billionaire and Emperor of New York City. Emperor Bloomberg, who made billions as a successful “entrepreneur,” knows what’s best for us the peasantry.

Dec. 09 2010 10:37 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Yikes, how seriously should we take the views of a guy who thinks the Smithsonian is in New York City???

Dec. 09 2010 09:45 AM
cm katz from Phoenix, AZ

Keep up the writing!

Dec. 07 2010 11:55 PM
JC - The Indy Express

I can't wait to read your posts on Rise of the Center about the launch. Safe travels!

Dec. 07 2010 08:41 PM
JC - The Indy Express

I can't wait to read your posts on Rise of the Center about the launch. Safe travels!

Dec. 07 2010 08:40 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

Looking forward to seeing New York City for the first time... I hope I get time to see the Smithsonian for at least a few hours.

Dec. 07 2010 01:09 PM
Joe Baur from Ohio

Well done, Solomon. Thanks for sharing this with me and I hope some good things happen for you during your time out in NYC.

Cheers!
Joe B
Mildly Relevant News: http://youtube.com/MildlyRelevant

Dec. 07 2010 09:53 AM
Jan from Omaha, NE

A well written piece. Wouldn't it be great if moderates could unite!

Dec. 07 2010 09:25 AM
Stephen from Nixa, MO

Safe travels and good luck, slk

Dec. 07 2010 08:42 AM

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