Look Who’s Behind the Know-Nothing ‘No Labels Party’

The “No Labels Party” ought to be named the Nothing Party, for it offers nothing of substance to voters. 

In the mid-1800s, a new political party flared up in American politics, posing as an alternative to both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Xenophobic and nativist, it was extremely secretive with outsiders about its specific structure, motive and agenda. Indeed, members were instructed to say, “I know nothing” when asked about details — thus it was quickly dubbed the “Know-Nothing Party.” In 1856, it nominated Millard Filmore as its presidential nominee, but he was reticent to talk about the party, even refraining from running as an avowed party member. He lost, and the Know-Nothings soon withered.

Yet, here comes another oddly secretive party. Labeling themselves the “No Labels Party,” this reincarnation ought to be named the Nothing Party, for it offers nothing of substance to voters. Its so-called Common Sense Agenda is fluffier than cotton candy, yet it’s trying to run a third-party candidate in next year’s presidential race.

Why? Follow the money! That’s not easy to do, though, for this gaggle of conservative corporatists slyly incorporated as a nonprofit “social welfare” outfit — a deceit that lets it hide the names of its political funders from the public. The New Republic, however, got records revealing that No Labels is a fat cat front, with Texas billionaire Republican Harlan Crow leading the way.

Who? Crow is the political patron who has secretly been lavishing luxury gifts and cash on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who in turn has embraced Crow’s plutocratic positions in court cases.

That same plutocratic agenda appears to be fueling No Labels third-party presidential push, for these rich politicos know that a milquetoast spoiler candidate would mostly draw independent moderates from President Joe Biden, giving Crow & Co. another GOP corporate presidency. It’s a cynical game… but that’s how they play it.

Bribery, Bad. Campaign Donations, Good?

What amazes me about outbreaks of bribery among high government officials is not just the level of greed involved, but that the take is often so cheesy.

For example, there seems to be no end to the ongoing saga of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas peddling his position and prestige to right-wing corporate titans for… what? Free rides on their jets, golf outings and assorted baubles. He’s supposed to be an impartial justice, but he consistently supports rich interests who’re picking up his tabs. We taxpayers provide $274,000 a year in salary to Thomas — why wouldn’t he buy his own baubles and protect a smidgeon of his judicial integrity?

Now comes New Jersey’s Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has been oddly insistent on giving U.S. weaponry and financial aid to Egypt’s repressive military dictatorship. Why? Because Menendez has sunk butt-deep into influence peddling, using his position to advance Egyptian interests.

In exchange, Egyptian agents have blessed him with huge wads of cash, gold bullion, a Mercedes-Benz convertible and a no-show “job” for his wife. Oh… they also delivered an air purifier for his home.

Seriously. An air purifier. That’s a mighty cheap sell-out! Yet, what a priceless symbol of the whole stinky deal.
Meanwhile, Menendez says that the donations are unrelated to his honest concerns about our Mideast foreign policy. He proudly asserts that his senatorial assistance is just “the normal work of a congressional office.”

Sadly, he’s right! Most senate offices today routinely do official favors for moneyed interests in exchange for millions of dollars in bribes. But that’s such an ugly word — so they call the Big Money payments “campaign contributions.” Then they get indignant when we call the system corrupt. But that’s what it is.

Jim Hightower