Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

Beware of Politicians Who Don't Come With Labels

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Would you buy and consume an over-the-counter medicine without reading the label? Probably not. The same is true with politicians.

    Which is why even California independent voters -- known as "Decline to States" (one of them your blogger) -- should be a little wary of politicians who embrace "no labels."

    But that's what Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other politicians are doing as they launch a new political group called "No Labels." It's for moderates. The ringleader is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

    Pragmatic and compromise are important values. And partisanship is a problem in America. But a politics without labels isn't a healthy politics. And moderation isn't a panacea. California has been led by a steady stream of politically moderate governors -- and the state is a dysfunctional mess. Fixing governance is not a question of electing more moderates -- it's a question of fixing structures and governance, as Ross Douthat argues effectively in Monday's New York Times.

    Party and ideological labels are often all that voters know about politicians. Without such labels, voters would be even more clueless than they already are. If anything, what our politics need are not fewer labels -- but more and better labels, which convey to voters what policies politicians are likely to pursue.