May 1, 2012

Obama's new slogan is not only the Wisconsin motto... it's the "No Labels" motto.

The previous post talks about how the new motto is the Wisconsin motto. Adding my new "mottos" tag to old posts, I ran across a post from December 2010 about No Labels, a top-down "grassroots" movement:
No Labels was created by two Washington consultants, the Democratic fund-raiser Nancy Jacobson and the Republican image-shaper Mark McKinnon, and its slick opening event featured throngs of journalists, free boxed lunches and a song written for the occasion by the pop sensation Akon. The group’s slogan, printed on T-shirts and banners, summarizes its purpose this way: “Not left. Not right. Forward.”
Lots of names at the link, nearly all Democrats. There were Republicans, but as Byron York noted at the time:
For some reason, most of the Republicans who showed up were recently defeated officeholders: South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis, Delaware Rep. Mike Castle, and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.
Where's No Labels now? Absorbed into the Obama campaign? It's more likely that they are so forgotten that their previous use of the motto had no effect on the Obama campaign's motto choice.

Here's the Wikipedia article on the group, which released a "Make Congress Work action plan" in December 2011. Did you notice? It's a 12-point plan... a 12-step program:

  1. Automatic pay docking for Congress if the federal budget is not passed on time
  2. An up-or-down vote on all presidential appointments within 90 days of their nomination
  3. Changing the rules of the filibuster so as to make the process more difficult to accomplish (by having filibustering senators stand on the floor and speak as long as they can), as well as elimination of filibusters of motions to open debate.
  4. Anonymous discharge petitions
  5. A five-day workweek in Congress
  6. Institution of Question Time between Congress and the President
  7. An annual fiscal report delivered to a joint session of Congress, after which everyone present must sign the report
  8. A code of conduct banning the taking of pledges from special interest groups
  9. Bipartisan monthly gatherings to be held off-the-record.
  10. The establishment of bipartisan seating
  11. The establishment of a Bipartisan Leadership Council to be made up of the Speaker of the House, the president pro tempore, and Majority and Minority leaders of both houses, and two slots per house for other members to be decided using a lottery
  12. The banning of incumbents taking part in negative campaigns against other incumbents
Interesting. Not very grassrootsy, but what do you think?


TosaGuy said...

I think I would have about as much impact on Congress sitting at this computer as these "rules" would have on those who sit in Congress.

Point #1 is probably unconstitutional.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I remember No Labels!

Sort of.

Scott M said...

6. Institution of Question Time between Congress and the President

That would require a shitload of large three-ring binders and we're already +90 days on our last invoice at Staples.

Seriously, though, there are too many individual members of Congress to do this. If you only had the chair and ranking minority member of each committee in both houses attend, it's still a shitload of people, but more manageable.

MadisonMan said...

No Labels! Why not just Generic Politician?

Forward with No Labels!!

When you buy canned food with No Labels, you never know what you're going to get.

Lem said...

Generic drugs are as good as brand names.

Lem said...

Madison man.. you have a big mouth ;)

Bob Ellison said...

Step 11 is un-American. It's designed to institutionalize even more completely the two-party system. These parties have not always held sway, and they deserve to go away if they fail to serve the people. Step 11 would make the parties even more undefeatable.

BidenFamilyTaxPayerFundedCrackPipe said...

The cool thing about "No label" is that you can hide your agenda behind it.

Chip S. said...

8. A code of conduct banning the taking of pledges from special interest groups.

I'd love to see the definition of a "special interest group" they have in mind. Labor unions? The NRA? The PTA? The Tea Party?

Your interest group is trying to thwart the "will of the people". My interest group is an endangered minority trying to be heard.

wyo sis said...

I'm always suspicious of "bipartisan" groups.

MadisonMan said...

Lem, I've got a whole week of full-day telecons and I'm feeling punchy already on day 2!!

Bob Ellison said...

Professor, I think your new tag should be not "mottos", but "slogans". A motto is a saying that encapsulates a philosophy. "Forward", "Hope and Change", etc. do not do that. These are slogans, designed not to encapsulate a philosphy at all, but to politicize and motivate masses. Slogans can be adapted, dropped, and reversed as needed. Slogans are propaganda; mottos are real.

Wince said...

Why don't they actually stick a piece of tape across their mouths like in all those edgy "speak-out" image campaigns?

And keep it there.

That'd be hip... or jiggy... or whatever.

Dante said...

I don't want to read any posts about Obama, until the following questions about him are answered.

a) What was Obama's knowledge concerning millions in Chicago money Rezko was supposed to use to fix ghettos?

b) A real explanation of Obama's relationship with Rezko, and a clear explanation of how he got his house so cheaply, and how he purchased the land strip next to it.

c) How was it Seven of 9's child custody records were unsealed. Did Obama know the judge? Did they have any discussions? Or is this simply Democrat crap? Before I read another article on Obama, I want the press and bloggers to popularize this story and the stories of how Obama got his Democrat competitors kicked of the races through judges.

d) Yes, I want to know more about Obama's college views. I have some insight into Hillary, but what about the Obamao? Is he really a radical? Or just a power hungry man? Is he Al Gore stupid, or only George W. stupid? Yes, we know he has a great voice, but Gore fooled most of the liberals with his foolish AGW disaster catastrophe show, so it doesn't take brains to sound good to liberals.

e) What happened to the stimulus money? For goodness sakes, spend a billion in stimulus to find out where it went. I want to know.

f) OK, the bitch is telling us that we should eat. I don't like the bitch. I haven't liked her since she let us all know how shallow she is, by saying it took her husband to get the democrat nomination to be proud of her country. Is the bitch really just an angry person? I want to know.

Obamao the man as vessel to move forward liberal ideas is not interesting to me. Some people claim to be "moderate" liberals. Great, so what have they elected?

The possibly simple thing the man has done is to bankrupt the country to transform it. Into, what? I fail to see how the country is on as good financial ground as it was when the Obamao took office. I would like a clear assessment. I hear, for instance, that new welfare program, SSDI, is bankrupting Social Security faster than expected. Surprise! Let's hear about it now.

Anonymous said...

Some of the suggestions are good, others less so. But none are what I would put first on the list:

A rule that either houses of Congress must have quorum to discuss anything. Yes, theoretically it could allow for more filibuster type actions if people simply fail to show up to talk about a bill. But sometimes I think it's better to get nothing done than keep ruining our country through action or to allow both parties never to have to actually sit in a room together. The people will eventually have enough of Congress not doing anything and we'll get rid of them and elect new people. Either that or we'll realize that we didn't really need them to do anything anyway. Government should mainly be at the state level.

I also think it should be a part-time thing where they only sit in session a few months out of the year and are required to maintain residence in their home state for the rest of the time.

Gabriel Hanna said...

The politics of failure have failed! It is time to make them work again.

Tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

leslyn said...

OK Dante, then disappear.

Bob Ellison said...

Dante, interesting stuff.

Christopher in MA said...

OK Dante, then disappear.

None so blind as those who will not see, eh, leslyn?

tim in vermont said...

"Waste deep in the big muddy, and the big fool says.... Forward!"

Lewis Wetzel said...

These "No Label" people seem seem to think that if you combine the Democrats and the Republicans you end up with a single party better than either.
That is stupid.

Scott M said...

Tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!


cubanbob said...

what this country needs is an ammendment that states congress, the excutive, the judiciary and the states and their branches and subdivisions cannot excempt themselves from any law, regulation or ordinance they pass.

edutcher said...

There was a guy named Uriah who said, "Forward", and bad things happened to him.

And how can a grass roots movement start at the top? I thought grass roots movements started at the, well, roots.

wyo sis said...

I'm always suspicious of "bipartisan" groups.

And I notice the Republicans all appear to be RINOs - Crist, Castle.

So, once again, you have a Democrat group made "bipartisan" by some people who are going to do whatever the Demos want in the spirit of "reaching across the aisle to their friends in the Democrat Party".

Anonymous said...

The group’s slogan, printed on T-shirts and banners, summarizes its purpose this way: “Pretend we all agree on which direction is Forward.


traditionalguy said...

We understand competition and trust in an adversarial system that has two parties each watching over the bad moves and corruption of the other. That restrains corruption within a narrow band where the Fake Adversaries wink at one anothers earmarks.

It is only superseded when a crisis must be faced as a common enemy. Then most work together until the crisis is over.

But creating a continual crisis is easy using the Obama/Pelosi methods: stopping good energy, devaluing the dollar, and cutting the military in half.

n.n said...

With "No Labels", "Hope and Change", "Color of Change", "Progress", "Forward", etc., they have a predilection for ambiguous semantics.

Joe said...

I like several of these. But since Congress won't even create and vote on a budget as required by law, what difference would any make?

Palladian said...

I'm more interested in what happened to the Coffee Party

Penny said...

They come together only in a crisis?

Surely you jest.

The crisis I see is that our legislative and executive bodies at both the national and state level refuse to deal with some of the major issues of our time, and all under the guise of "it's an election year".

Hell, newspapers world-wide now regularly use that as an excuse for American politicians doing little to nothing.

Deficit reduction?

Entitlement reform?

Massive tax reform, tort reform, education reform?

In an election year? You must be daft.

Problem is that every year is an election year, and our most difficult issues get shelved for some "other time" when our elected officials needn't worry about making unpopular, yet necessary changes.

How about we try less feel-good legislation and MORE PROBLEM SOLVING for a change?

Ann Althouse said...

"Professor, I think your new tag should be not "mottos", but "slogans". A motto is a saying that encapsulates a philosophy. "Forward", "Hope and Change", etc. do not do that. These are slogans, designed not to encapsulate a philosphy at all, but to politicize and motivate masses. Slogans can be adapted, dropped, and reversed as needed. Slogans are propaganda; mottos are real."

I'm trying to fight tag proliferation and also to make it possible to link up things that are connected.

"Forward" here in Wisconsin is a motto. It's the official state motto. I'm starting from there.

I thought of the term "slogan," but I don't think a single word is much of a slogan.

Ann Althouse said...

OED, slogan =

"a. A war-cry or battle cry; spec. one of those formerly employed by Scottish Highlanders or Borderers, or by the native Irish, usually consisting of a personal surname or the name of a gathering-place... b. The distinctive note, phrase, cry, etc. of any person or body of persons; now esp. a motto associated with a political party or movement or other group, or a short and striking or memorable phrase used in advertising."

Motto =

"1. Originally: a word, sentence, or phrase attached to an impresa or emblematical design to explain or emphasize its significance. Later also: a short sentence or phrase inscribed on an object, expressing a reflection or sentiment considered appropriate to its purpose or destination; a maxim or saying adopted by a person, family, institution, etc., expressing a rule of conduct or philosophy of life."

Forward is a "destination"... sort of. A direction. The destination is unspoken, but it's... out there... in front of us.

Joe Mansour said...

Professor - glad you're taking another look at No Labels.

You should know that the No Budget, No Pay Act (H.R. 3643 & S. 1981) is gaining traction in Congress. We're up to 54 co-sponsors (Republicans & Democrats), and recently had a hearing in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs.

Holding lawmakers accountable for doing their jobs and passing a budget & all 12 annual spending bills on-time, could be just the push we need to get Congress working again.

And who knows, may even more things... Forward.


Joe Mansour
Digital Director at

ken in tx said...

Almost everyone understands that if Exxon Mobile and Chevron Texaco get together on a deal, it is probably a conspiracy against the public. It should also be obvious if some Republicans and Democrats do the same thing, it also a conspiracy against the public. I don't want bi-partisanship. I want competition. Grid-lock is better than bi-partisanship.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I remember No Labels back when they were A New Way Forward

There's that word again

Penny said...

And wasn't NYC Mayor Bloomberg suspected of being their first presidential candidate?

Course that was before his extraordinary math skills, that helped him into the 1%, also helped him count up "best case" electoral votes.

No wonder Bloomberg turned into one of the best "Nanny Governors" in recent history.

Cause, ya know... nannies and grannies got that "soft power" thing workin' for 'em.

Penny said...

*looks up*

Love you, Nan!

Mitch H. said...

Half of those points seem aimed at a bureaucratization of Congress, and the other half seem aimed at a sort of guild-building, of professionalization of the legislators. The "no compete" point between incumbents is particularly noxious.

The first point is half of a good idea, but you'd have to extend it so that everybody fails to get paid, not just the back-benchers and leadership, but the President, his cabinet, czars and his ministers... elsewise, it just becomes leverage for the Executive to run roughshod over the Legislative.