A new article in Politico touts a megadonor “get” by No Labels, the would-be political party that believes the answer to all of America’s problems is for Democrats and Republicans to meet each other halfway on issues like “Do women have rights?” and “Should America abandon democracy in favor of a pasty, rich God-King?”
The story details that Allan Keen, a real estate developer and major donor to numerous Republican presidential candidates, including former President Donald Trump, is now “a leader in the Florida chapter” of No Labels. And I’m going to take a moment here to be nice: Keen deserves some respect on this one because he told Politico he abandoned his Trump support and left the Republican Party after “all the shenanigans” around Trump’s Jan. 6 coup attempt.
Keen is doing more than what the vast majority of Republicans have done: He thought Jan. 6 was unacceptable, and he left the party. Sen. Mitt Romney is still a Republican, and this guy isn’t. You tell me which of the two is really more concerned by a violent coup attempt.
But now we can dispense with the nice part. Florida Real Estate Man may have ditched the Republican Party, but he left it for No Labels, a gloriously vain enterprise premised on a certain slice of the Important Political Influencer class’s deeply held belief that what Americans really want is fervent corporatism paired with no other strong views whatsoever.
A look at the party’s would-be platform reveals a document heavy on the language of aspirational self-help gurus and conspicuously silent about how any of it would translate into actual new laws. But the group clearly has a core belief, and it’s all-encompassing: “America should do what rich people want.” Everything else comes second. And if that message just happens to be the one likeliest to make the rich rush in to prop up your operation, then wow, what a coincidence.
Some critics of No Labels believe that Republican megadonors are funding the pseudo-party so it can act as an election spoiler, stripping low-information voters from Democrats and swinging the election to Trump. But I think this undersells the extent to which our nation’s most wealthy people sincerely do not give a shit about what happens to the rest of us or to the country at large. They simply don’t think about it. The motivation for wealthy Republicans donating to No Labels this particular election cycle, however, is that it looks like the eventual Republican nominee may well be campaigning from a prison cell, which doesn’t bode well for his ability to return to them the favor of electing him.
If you’ve ever met a member of the filthy rich, Trump’s obsession with cheating people out of a few bucks and swiping whatever can be swiped is more avatar than outlier. There are a great many wealthy people who work themselves into fits about the rest of society having a say in what they do or how much taxes they pay, and the rich deeply feel that nothing else matters except for fixing that.
Rich people do not like President Joe Biden, because Biden says things that suggest he does not want rich people to be in charge. Rich people do like Republicans because Republicans have a proven history of wanting rich people to be in charge. However, some members of the donor class, like Keen, are increasingly upset that Republicans keep focusing on trying to overthrow the government when Republicans could instead be using that energy to put rich people in charge of more things. And these same rich people were willing to abide the most conceited, faux-billionaire asshole on the planet when they thought he was on their money-grubbing side. But now that the asshole has proved he’s on nobody’s side but his own, the smarter money is moving to their next-best options.
That’s why No Labels’ funding appears to be largely contingent on whether Trump is the nominee. If some other Republican starts leading in the polls, one who looks like they’ll put tax cuts and deregulation as their top priority, all the money will start flowing back to corporatist Republicans and No Labels will again be devoting the bulk of their time trying to find a new crop of sugar daddies.
It’s not that No Labels will strategically stand down if a not-indicted Republican starts looking like they’ll be the nominee. The donor money will collapse, and they’ll have to stand down.
Trump’s continuing legal problems, the car crash of a Republican debate, and the polling numbers defy the traditional media’s narrative that the Republican Party is even above water with voters.