Democrats and Republicans Agree Democracy Is at Risk

Democrats and Republicans Agree Democracy Is at Risk

Today, our nation finds itself facing a crisis—one which Americans on both ends of the political spectrum are worried about in equal proportions.

Recently, a Quinnipiac Poll asked voters their reaction to the assertion that “the nation’s democracy is in danger of collapse.” Sixty-nine percent of Republicans agreed—and so did 69 percent of Democrats. That’s a rare bipartisan consensus in a political environment that’s toxic to say the least. And it begs the question: If so many people from such a range of political movements are so concerned, what can be done?

The problem here is that the inside Washington opinion on this matter differs so drastically from what ordinary Americans—what some might call the “exhausted majority”—would be inclined to do.

Some on the left think that the threat to democracy comes exclusively from what President Biden labeled in his Philadelphia speech the “MAGA Republicans.” Their solution would push these Americans outside the bounds of public affairs almost by definition—to “cancel” them into political obscurity.

Some on the right take the same approach but in reverse. President Trump is so convinced—against all evidence—that the 2020 election was stolen that he wants the election cancelled. And when he makes these sorts of outrageous suggestions, some Republicans continue to nod along.

But that’s not what most Americans think. They don’t want people canceled, and they certainly don’t want free and fair election results overturned.

For the exhausted majority, the solution to the crisis of American democracy isn’t for one side to vanquish the other, or to upset the norms of our political institutions. It’s to have the two sides engage in substantive and serious ways, to take real stock of the others’ concerns, to balance their own views against those held by their fellow Americans with different perspectives, and to have real leaders hash out real, bipartisan solutions to the nation’s big problems.

If the leaders in the two parties are too beholden to ideological extremists to save democracy from two entirely unpalatable choices, this exhausted majority is bound to look for other alternatives in the 2024 presidential election.

Some argue that an alternative isn’t possible—that the American system has always worked best when presidential elections are decided through a binary choice. And that’s undeniably been true through much of our history.

But in a moment like this one—one in which the broad majority of both parties believe democracy is in crisis and where it seems entirely possible that both parties will nominate standard-bearers who think the only way to save democracy is to vanquish the other—doesn’t it make sense at least to have as an option a way to give those who find both extremes unacceptable a new political home?

That’s what No Labels is doing. We don’t know who the two parties will nominate in 2024. Perhaps one, or both, will nominate candidates who appeal to the exhausted majority of voters who want to see bipartisanship prevail in Washington. But if not—if both parties nominate candidates who are non-starters for most Americans save for the zealots on the far right and left—we want to provide a pathway to the White House that’s open to a ticket that appeals to the exhausted majority. And that’s exactly what No Labels is looking to provide—an insurance policy if extremists take control of both majority parties. We’re establishing ballot access in all 50 states so that an alternative ticket could, if needed, bring American democracy back from the brink.

Finally, there’s this: At the moment, there’s very little incentive for candidates in either party to appeal to the exhausted majority.

All the prevailing incentives point candidates to focus their efforts on appealing to the ideological extremes. It’s the zealots who overwhelmingly make small-dollar donations, and post mean-spirited comments on social media, spending their time watching nothing but cable news.

To become a major party nominee, and to potentially win, candidates are incentivized to zing the other side, burying them with so much negativity that (the thinking goes) any reasonable voter will have no choice but to vote against the lesser of two evils.

No Labels’ insurance policy is designed to tip back the scales. It will send a message to everyone thinking about running for president in 2024.

If the insurance policy is activated, candidates who have appealed exclusively to the extremes will have trouble winning over members of the exhausted majority. So it would be better, now, to do the right thing for the country—to engage with the other side—than to rain fire on prospective opponents.

All of this is to say: If no one else will speak for the exhausted majority’s interests, No Labels will. And this insurance policy is the best leverage we have to ensure this crisis of democracy ends before it’s too late.