Monday morning, The Daily Beast published a story with what had to be the least surprising twist since we found out Donald Trump actually was going to be an incompetent president: The organization "No Labels," which ostensibly exists to promote bipartisanship, is almost entirely funded by people not particularly interested in bipartisanship:
That's a list of people much more interested in maintaining the status quo of tax cuts for the rich and deregulation for corporations. Who woulda thunk it?
Here's the thing about "nonpartisan centrists" and people who claim to be against "labels": They tend to be liars or completely disconnected from reality. No one can look at the Republican Party and the Democratic Party and honestly say that "both sides" are equally to blame for the state of American politics. The Democratic Party is by no means a paragon of virtue but they are well within the norm for a political party anywhere in the world.
The Republican Party, on the other hand, is an extreme outlier in every conceivable metric. Their almost total reliance on corporate money is well documented. Their rejection of science is unique among all major political parties in the industrialized world. The GOP's rapid shift from dog-whistle racism to hardcore white nationalism has been unprecedented. Republicans have waged war on democracy and our democratic institutions for years in a way that threatens to shatter the country. There is no equivalent movement in the Democratic Party. Even the policy proposals of Bernie Sanders, the person the press (incorrectly) considers the most extreme on the left, doesn't undermine the country. All of the damage comes from the GOP or, as in the case of Democrats killing the judicial filibuster, come in response to Republicans so severely abusing the system they didn't have a choice.
So, to paraphrase Will McAvoy, when someone says both sides are to blame, I don't know what the fuck they're talking about!
But that's not true. I do actually know what they're talking about. Apart from the Chris Cillizzas and Chuck Todds of the world who exist in a protected media bubble where politics is a game and their job is to announce which side is winning with no regard to the real world costs to the rest of us, there are the people paid to create the "both sides" fiction. For those people, like "No Labels," they have a very clear job: Throw up as much smoke and dust as possible to provide cover for the Republican Party.
If that sounds cynical, it absolutely is. It's possibly the most cynical manipulation of people's perception of politics imaginable. By claiming that they just want to find the middle ground between the two parties, fake "centrists" like No Labels create a false equivalency between them. Suddenly, it no longer matters how outrageous or insane the GOP is, "both parties" are guilty so both parties take the blame.
This is like having two brothers and one of them is constantly setting the house on fire while the other is constantly putting the fires out. By blaming both and mostly only punishing the one acting responsibly, the parents send a clear message to the arsonist that there are no real consequences for his actions. Why would he ever stop? Why wouldn't he escalate to burning down other people's houses? Or setting entire towns on fire? He knows his brother will get at least half the blame anyway.
All of the GOP's gridlock, hyperpartisanship, filibusters, and tribalism helps them break our government. A broken government is what the billionaire owners of the GOP want. No Labels helps spread the blame for all of that around to both parties, thus keeping people frustrated and disengaged. The end result is that people grow angry at both parties for causing all the acrimony in Washington and dysfunction of our government. In their anger, they refuse to vote and that helps one, and only one, party. That's why hedge fund managers and billionaires are funding groups like No Labels. They're helping the Republican Party. No one could have possibly have predicted this. Except anyone who was paying attention.