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Manchin’s No Labels party could backfire Does America need another ego?

Manchin won't meet Biden in the centre (Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency/Getty)

Manchin won't meet Biden in the centre (Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency/Getty)


July 24, 2023   6 mins

Third-party candidates in America don’t make history. But last week the senior senator for West Virginia made headlines, at least. Joe Manchin is hinting that he might run for the presidency in 2024, representing a new “No Labels” party advocating for compromise between Left and Right. Currently a Democrat, Manchin wants to challenge the dominance of the two major American political parties, both of whom, he believes, have strayed too far from the centre. But if he’s actually serious about running, his project could make matters worse. 

Manchin’s rejection of the Democrats has been a long time coming. His voting record is complex, diverging from the party line on numerous occasions. A lifetime member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), Manchin opposed the more progressive elements of his party after Sandy Hook. And as one of the few anti-abortion Democrats in Congress, he has consistently voted in favour of restrictions on abortion access. Meanwhile, his support for the coal industry — an important economic driver in his home state and the industry that made him a millionaire before he entered politics — has often put him at odds with their green agenda. He was also the only Democrat to vote in favour of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination in 2018, drawing the ire of many within his party, and he voted with Donald Trump more than 50% of the time.

Manchin’s ideology is consistent, though. It’s grounded in the history of West Virginia, a former Democrat stronghold that has become solidly Republican in recent years. And his conservative bent could be perceived as a survival strategy. After all, he is currently staring down a 55% disapproval rating in West Virginia, as he contemplates seeking another term in the Senate. His opponent is likely to be the state’s Republican governor, Jim Justice, a former conservative Democrat who switched parties. And one does wonder: why doesn’t Manchin jump ship to the Republican Party, given his voting patterns seem slightly more aligned with theirs? Trump, in 2022, actually suggested on Truth Social that Manchin be brought into the GOP.

But Manchin’s comments signal a desire to reject both major parties. In America, there is a large cadre of “politically homeless” voters: roughly 49% of the electorate according to some polling. Where once they might have been drawn to candidates who could see the other side’s point of view, these voters now seem disenchanted with party politics altogether, put off by the extreme fringes of the Republicans and Democrats alike. Manchin is appealing to them.

While polls show dissatisfaction with candidates within both parties, Manchin’s potential candidacy would inevitably benefit one of them. He could appeal to a critical 1% or 2% in Rust Belt swing states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, which would probably be enough to tilt the scales in favour of the GOP.

More broadly, his rhetoric is a sign of a shift in American politics. Bipartisanship and consensus decision-making, celebrated ideals for nearly three decades after the end of the Second World War, have lost their lustre, ceasing to animate the base of either party. Marginal struggles currently define internal and external political battles. But Manchin and allies, such as former Democrat Krysten Sinema — now representing Arizona in the Senate as an independent — believe there’s still a silent majority to be found in the centre, one that is indifferent to the culture war that drives the loudest political engagement. 

Manchin’s paradox is that, while the most active voters are increasingly drawn towards the extremes of their respective parties, he is gambling on the centre. While his voting record paints a picture of a moderate Democrat — often erring on the conservative side — this suggestion of a third-party candidacy implies a critical redefinition of his political stance. Instead of being the swing vote within his party, Manchin would be a fulcrum between the two major political forces. Would he survive it?

Much of Manchin’s political career has been characterised by his unusual resilience in the face of the onrushing deep-red political tides in West Virginia. His endurance owes much to his somewhat unconventional stances, which resonate with a Rust Belt populace disenchanted by what they perceive as the Democratic Party’s preoccupation with identity politics at the expense of working-class concerns relevant to their area, such as the protection of jobs in fossil fuel industries.

But is there a national appetite for this brand of centrism? The country is polarised. The Pew Research Center has found that twice as many members of the two main American parties now view their opponents unfavourably, compared to 1994. In a sociopolitical environment where labels — LGBTQIA, America First, MAGA, they/them — have become essential to the identities of young people, not to mention their self-marketing, will there be significant support for a “No Labels” campaign?

Third-party bids have gained some traction in America’s political history. Billionaire Ross Perot’s Reform Party campaign racked up some impressive numbers in 1992 and 1996. But while Perot aimed to transcend partisan politics in order to win, Manchin appears more focused on exerting influence to create a moderate shift in policy. If he runs, he’s more likely to follow in the footsteps of activists such as Green Party nominee Ralph Nader, remembered more for inadvertently tipping the scales in favour of Republican George W. Bush in 2000 than for his actual campaign. And since America today is even more polarised than in the Nineties, ultimately the implications of a third-party bid are more dangerous.

The mooted “No Labels” party does seem like a hurried experiment in political transcendence, a far too simple answer to the broad discontent with the current political binary. But if Manchin wants to be remembered as the man who shed the shackles of partisanship, this move may tarnish the legacy he has already created for himself. His bold attempt to coax the country towards the centre could end up deepening the divisions he has exposed.

This has been the case with his prior attempts to preserve or create a “centre” on controversial issues. On gun control, Manchin co-sponsored the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey bill following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, which proposed expanded background checks for gun sales. Seen by much of the Left as an inadequate middle-ground solution, it failed to gain traction. As a result, the United States has been unable to make even minor changes related to background checks, and the two sides have only become more entrenched.

On energy policy, Manchin’s support for the fossil fuel industry is out of step with his party’s support for a progressive “Green New Deal”, while his reluctance to fully endorse the coal industry’s unregulated expansion has drawn ire from the Right. Manchin has recently joined with Republicans to oppose the climate legislation to which he had added a degree of moderation. But in general, seeking the centrist position in America does not lead to a union of the factions; rather, it leaves the centrist isolated, at odds with both sides.

His campaign would simply highlight the structural flaws of America’s political system, in which centrism can empower extremism. Part of the problem is the dynamics of party primaries. Candidates often find themselves compelled to pander to the ideological extremes to gain the nomination, pushing them away from the centre. Even if they later shift, their original stances are remembered; in the long run, this discourages bipartisan cooperation.

Here is a lesson for moderates, if they really want to effect change: instead of conforming to extremism, they should look to their long-term influence on political norms and the policy-making process, as Manchin at least tried to do prior to signalling his frustration with the Democrats. They need to somehow communicate the importance of pragmatic governance, and the necessity of compromise in a democracy — ideally through political advertising that emphasises the value of bipartisan dealmaking over ideological purity, of “fighting gridlock” and “getting things done”.

It won’t be easy. Divide and conquer has always been a potent strategy for generating enthusiasm, and centrists such as Manchin are working in an atmosphere where both parties are cynically leveraging polarisation. Democrats have recently started funding extreme Republican primary candidates, whom they believe will be easy to beat in the general election. It’s a manoeuvre that, while it may yield short-term electoral gains, could backfire, by enabling candidates with more extreme views to gain power. And, if moderates abandon the major parties, they will only empower these extreme candidates, driving the Democrats and Republicans further and further apart. It would be an ironic outcome for Manchin, who claims to want the parties to come together.

So what is Manchin really trying to achieve? He has been a self-avowed independent within the Democratic Party for years; his last-ditch embrace of a potential “No Labels” movement, then, could be characterised as an act of egoism. At the age of 75, Manchin is probably not seeking political longevity. Rather, “No Labels” feels like a legacy move. Manchin might just be looking back at his long career of crossing party lines, and making a final, and perhaps sincere, plea for American politics to move back to the centre. 

Then again, if he is against the erosion of collective solidarity by personal politics, there would be an irony in him launching a highly individual campaign. There’s no point standing in the ideological centre if you’re there all by yourself.


Oliver Bateman is a historian and journalist based in Pittsburgh. He blogs, vlogs, and podcasts at his Substack, Oliver Bateman Does the Work

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Robert Pruger
Robert Pruger
11 months ago

Didn’t notice how a Senator Machine run on a “No Labels” party would backfire. He’s likely to lose his reelection in 2024. So very little to lose there. He seems to have firm first principles. So why not swing for the fences?

Such a run might result in his getting Ross Perot type numbers. That would be a wakeup call for both parties, though likely more of a call on the left. Ross Perot (and Pat Buchanan for that matter) turned out to be more prescient and right. Took 30 years, but many now acknowledge the “giant sucking sound” (Perot) and that there is great danger and little reward in being the world’s policeman (Buchanan). So Senator Machin, run baby run. Watch those b…s sweat.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
11 months ago
Reply to  Robert Pruger

Many are sick of the “Republicrats” and “Democans”.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
11 months ago
Reply to  Robert Pruger

Many are sick of the “Republicrats” and “Democans”.

Robert Pruger
Robert Pruger
11 months ago

Didn’t notice how a Senator Machine run on a “No Labels” party would backfire. He’s likely to lose his reelection in 2024. So very little to lose there. He seems to have firm first principles. So why not swing for the fences?

Such a run might result in his getting Ross Perot type numbers. That would be a wakeup call for both parties, though likely more of a call on the left. Ross Perot (and Pat Buchanan for that matter) turned out to be more prescient and right. Took 30 years, but many now acknowledge the “giant sucking sound” (Perot) and that there is great danger and little reward in being the world’s policeman (Buchanan). So Senator Machin, run baby run. Watch those b…s sweat.

Kat L
Kat L
11 months ago

I don’t know, i rather think we need an extreme response right now. Centrism isn’t going to solve anything or change behaviors. Every institution has been taken over, a strong response is the only remedy to eventually get back to the center right.

2A Solution
2A Solution
11 months ago
Reply to  Kat L

The only solution is to eliminate the permanent government.

We aren’t doing this. It’s being done to us, and it’s being done to keep us preoccupied with things that a lot of people are passionate about in the abstract but in fact don’t matter. Not everything – the fight for the K-12 schools is real – but a lot of it is just barfights on a national level.

The important issues meanwhile get ignored. What matters? The only thing that really matters is the overall economy, because it makes everything else possible. People forget that. LGBTQIA whatever won’t matter if there is no food, fuel, or medicine. And that can happen. We’re broke. And the permanent government has become corrupt and incompetent to the point of danger.

Take Ukraine. One example of many.

Don’t fool yourselves. WE set this up. Our spooks have been f*****g with other countries as long as there has been a CIA. We got this rolling in 2014 (BTW all the things Trump thought Biden was doing over there Biden was doing) and made the Russian invasion inevitable. It was deliberate, it was incompetent, and it has backfired in terms of decreased confidence in the US and the US led financial system. This is going to cost us. If the new gold backed BRICS currency takes off we’re fucked. And that is just one part of the “unintended consequences” these idiots have visited us with.

It was done to us by a bunch of bureaucrats, the same ones who sabotaged Trump and rigged things for Biden. They are running the country, They have to be put down.

2A Solution
2A Solution
11 months ago
Reply to  Kat L

The only solution is to eliminate the permanent government.

We aren’t doing this. It’s being done to us, and it’s being done to keep us preoccupied with things that a lot of people are passionate about in the abstract but in fact don’t matter. Not everything – the fight for the K-12 schools is real – but a lot of it is just barfights on a national level.

The important issues meanwhile get ignored. What matters? The only thing that really matters is the overall economy, because it makes everything else possible. People forget that. LGBTQIA whatever won’t matter if there is no food, fuel, or medicine. And that can happen. We’re broke. And the permanent government has become corrupt and incompetent to the point of danger.

Take Ukraine. One example of many.

Don’t fool yourselves. WE set this up. Our spooks have been f*****g with other countries as long as there has been a CIA. We got this rolling in 2014 (BTW all the things Trump thought Biden was doing over there Biden was doing) and made the Russian invasion inevitable. It was deliberate, it was incompetent, and it has backfired in terms of decreased confidence in the US and the US led financial system. This is going to cost us. If the new gold backed BRICS currency takes off we’re fucked. And that is just one part of the “unintended consequences” these idiots have visited us with.

It was done to us by a bunch of bureaucrats, the same ones who sabotaged Trump and rigged things for Biden. They are running the country, They have to be put down.

Kat L
Kat L
11 months ago

I don’t know, i rather think we need an extreme response right now. Centrism isn’t going to solve anything or change behaviors. Every institution has been taken over, a strong response is the only remedy to eventually get back to the center right.

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
11 months ago

My understanding of No Labels is that they will run if it is Biden against Trump. I wholly support them in doing that. I will not vote for either of those two people and many others will not either. I am lucky in my state that I can write in a candidate of my choice, but many other states only offer the choices of those that can get on the ballot. So, if No Labels can manage it, they offer disenchanted voters a chance to say ‘neither of those two’.
When Biden ran in 2020 he ran as the normalcy candidate, a promise that if he was elected a civility and gravitas would return to Washington, old Uncle Joe would be a guiding hand and a stop-gap one term presidency holding back the extremists in his party and removing Donald Trump (who according the Democrats was the cause of the unrest and civility and general norm breaking, ha). Of course, Biden has been a disaster on various fronts. If Democrats didn’t want a No Labels type option on the ballot, maybe they should have governed differently.
No Labels has a wishy washy platform of bland statements and no real solutions, it solely exists for voters to show dissatisfaction with the current two favorites for the Democrat and Republican parties. I am absolutely fine with that. I can vote my policy choices down ticket.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
11 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

“When Biden ran in 2020 he ran as the normalcy candidate, a promise that if he was elected a civility and gravitas would return to Washington…”
I would agree with that statement if sleepy Joe didn’t already have a 50+ year legacy of bold faced lies and unhinged ideas. Add in the obvious and embarrassing dementia and it makes anyone voting for him either completely ignorant of history or someone hell bent on national suicide. Well, we got what you wished you.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
11 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

“When Biden ran in 2020 he ran as the normalcy candidate, a promise that if he was elected a civility and gravitas would return to Washington…”
I would agree with that statement if sleepy Joe didn’t already have a 50+ year legacy of bold faced lies and unhinged ideas. Add in the obvious and embarrassing dementia and it makes anyone voting for him either completely ignorant of history or someone hell bent on national suicide. Well, we got what you wished you.

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
11 months ago

My understanding of No Labels is that they will run if it is Biden against Trump. I wholly support them in doing that. I will not vote for either of those two people and many others will not either. I am lucky in my state that I can write in a candidate of my choice, but many other states only offer the choices of those that can get on the ballot. So, if No Labels can manage it, they offer disenchanted voters a chance to say ‘neither of those two’.
When Biden ran in 2020 he ran as the normalcy candidate, a promise that if he was elected a civility and gravitas would return to Washington, old Uncle Joe would be a guiding hand and a stop-gap one term presidency holding back the extremists in his party and removing Donald Trump (who according the Democrats was the cause of the unrest and civility and general norm breaking, ha). Of course, Biden has been a disaster on various fronts. If Democrats didn’t want a No Labels type option on the ballot, maybe they should have governed differently.
No Labels has a wishy washy platform of bland statements and no real solutions, it solely exists for voters to show dissatisfaction with the current two favorites for the Democrat and Republican parties. I am absolutely fine with that. I can vote my policy choices down ticket.

m3pc7q3ixe
m3pc7q3ixe
11 months ago

The Progressives cleaned up US politics in the 1890s and after. It can be done. If Manchin starts a twenty first century version of this movement he will be doing good.

US politics are clearly dysfunctional. It is hard to see how significant progress can be made without structural reform a) public debate ceases to fragmented into a series of ideological silos b) both Congress and the executive branch cease dancing to lobbyist tunes and start paying more attention to public opinion.

On a) one can be an optimist. Podcasts are replacing Twitter. Algorithms have been tweaked and are becoming less polarising (judging by my own feeds). More subjects are being debated.

On the other hand, b) is very challenging. Fixing the executive branch by banning the revolving door and other forms of soft corruption is possible but the legislative branch is trickier. The current necessity to raise ever larger amounts to finance political campaigns mean that politicians inevitably have to pay more attention to contributors than voters (especially in “safe seats” i.e, most districts). Given the Supreme Court’s protection of corporate influence via the Citizens United case, it may require a Constitutional amendment to clean up politics. The British approach of limiting political spending and providing free communication is not perfect but it may provide some pointers.

The widespread and growing populist perception that “they” are no longer listening let alone acting to help ordinary citizens is both largely accurate and potentially fatal to the American experiment.

Alex Carnegie

Last edited 11 months ago by m3pc7q3ixe
m3pc7q3ixe
m3pc7q3ixe
11 months ago

The Progressives cleaned up US politics in the 1890s and after. It can be done. If Manchin starts a twenty first century version of this movement he will be doing good.

US politics are clearly dysfunctional. It is hard to see how significant progress can be made without structural reform a) public debate ceases to fragmented into a series of ideological silos b) both Congress and the executive branch cease dancing to lobbyist tunes and start paying more attention to public opinion.

On a) one can be an optimist. Podcasts are replacing Twitter. Algorithms have been tweaked and are becoming less polarising (judging by my own feeds). More subjects are being debated.

On the other hand, b) is very challenging. Fixing the executive branch by banning the revolving door and other forms of soft corruption is possible but the legislative branch is trickier. The current necessity to raise ever larger amounts to finance political campaigns mean that politicians inevitably have to pay more attention to contributors than voters (especially in “safe seats” i.e, most districts). Given the Supreme Court’s protection of corporate influence via the Citizens United case, it may require a Constitutional amendment to clean up politics. The British approach of limiting political spending and providing free communication is not perfect but it may provide some pointers.

The widespread and growing populist perception that “they” are no longer listening let alone acting to help ordinary citizens is both largely accurate and potentially fatal to the American experiment.

Alex Carnegie

Last edited 11 months ago by m3pc7q3ixe
Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
11 months ago

What we have in America is a vocally radical veneer of hyperpartisanship masking a deeper monoculture of managerial backscratching wherein a small but loud minority on each side is perpetually at drawn daggers with each other while a sclerotic and increasingly decrepit uniparty fails to run the country in any meaningful way aside from ensuring their own reelection. Any colorful extremism is intended to disguise the inherent gray mediocrity and self-serving incompetence of most of our political class.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
11 months ago

What we have in America is a vocally radical veneer of hyperpartisanship masking a deeper monoculture of managerial backscratching wherein a small but loud minority on each side is perpetually at drawn daggers with each other while a sclerotic and increasingly decrepit uniparty fails to run the country in any meaningful way aside from ensuring their own reelection. Any colorful extremism is intended to disguise the inherent gray mediocrity and self-serving incompetence of most of our political class.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
11 months ago

“Bipartisanship and consensus decision-making have lost their lustre”
I’m not sure this is accurate. Both parties have simply developed irreconcilable differences.
The system worked fine when we were arguing over tax rates or immigration. But our arguments now are essentially theological: “what is man?”, “what is a woman?”, “does reality exist?”, “are babies human?” These questions are not amenable to political compromise; they are zero-sum. What should we do, have a 3/5ths Compromise on abortion? We know how well that worked out the first time.
It isn’t that our political parties are radicalizing. It’s that Americans increasingly do not share a common philosophy. A people with shared values can compromise on means (how) as long as they agree on ends (the goal). Eg: poverty is bad, let’s argue about how to fix it. But disagreement on ends is often fatal to a society. Increasingly, our political arguments are over “what is good” instead of “how do we achieve the common good”.

Last edited 11 months ago by Brian Villanueva
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
11 months ago

Yes, that is the crux of the problem. It’s also why revolutions have existed for eons.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
11 months ago

Yes, that is the crux of the problem. It’s also why revolutions have existed for eons.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
11 months ago

“Bipartisanship and consensus decision-making have lost their lustre”
I’m not sure this is accurate. Both parties have simply developed irreconcilable differences.
The system worked fine when we were arguing over tax rates or immigration. But our arguments now are essentially theological: “what is man?”, “what is a woman?”, “does reality exist?”, “are babies human?” These questions are not amenable to political compromise; they are zero-sum. What should we do, have a 3/5ths Compromise on abortion? We know how well that worked out the first time.
It isn’t that our political parties are radicalizing. It’s that Americans increasingly do not share a common philosophy. A people with shared values can compromise on means (how) as long as they agree on ends (the goal). Eg: poverty is bad, let’s argue about how to fix it. But disagreement on ends is often fatal to a society. Increasingly, our political arguments are over “what is good” instead of “how do we achieve the common good”.

Last edited 11 months ago by Brian Villanueva
Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
11 months ago

Congressional Democrats double crossed Manchin when they failed to deliver on things they promised him in the energy sector in return for his vote for the infrastructure bill. The Biden Administration was too worried about offending Climate Change fanatics to deliver on promises to Manchin. As a result, Manchin’s political career in WV is over. He can’t win reelection after his infrastructure bill vote without compensation. Manchin has a double motive to run for president.
1. Revenge for the double cross.
2. Make sure that a more pro fossil fuel policy takes over in Washington, DC.

As noted in the article, Manchin agress with Trump on a lot of policy issues. Watermellon Democrats, green on the outside, Marxist red on the inside, are the bane of West Virginia. Manchin can redeem himself at home in WV if he runs 3rd party and a Republican wins. Currently, WV votes overwhelmingly Republican. I think Manchin wants to be able to go home with better approval numbers. After reading Manchin’s recent Op Ed in USA Today, I’m fairly certain he’ll run.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
11 months ago

Congressional Democrats double crossed Manchin when they failed to deliver on things they promised him in the energy sector in return for his vote for the infrastructure bill. The Biden Administration was too worried about offending Climate Change fanatics to deliver on promises to Manchin. As a result, Manchin’s political career in WV is over. He can’t win reelection after his infrastructure bill vote without compensation. Manchin has a double motive to run for president.
1. Revenge for the double cross.
2. Make sure that a more pro fossil fuel policy takes over in Washington, DC.

As noted in the article, Manchin agress with Trump on a lot of policy issues. Watermellon Democrats, green on the outside, Marxist red on the inside, are the bane of West Virginia. Manchin can redeem himself at home in WV if he runs 3rd party and a Republican wins. Currently, WV votes overwhelmingly Republican. I think Manchin wants to be able to go home with better approval numbers. After reading Manchin’s recent Op Ed in USA Today, I’m fairly certain he’ll run.

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
11 months ago

” if moderates abandon the major parties, they will only empower these extreme candidates, driving the Democrats and Republicans further and further apart.”
But think it thru. Sure the departure of the moderates would leave both parties more fanatical than now, but who would care, since the poor damn voter would once again have sanity to vote for. The center would win, and the other parties would become laughing stocks. Their only way back to power would be to *compete* for the centrist voter once again. There millions of voters who will never vote for Trump and millions more who will never vote for Biden — but who might, all of them, vote for a respectable centrist.
” if moderates abandon the major parties, they will only empower these extreme candidates, driving the Democrats and Republicans further and further apart.”
But think it thru. Sure the departure of the moderates would leave both parties more fanatical than now, but who would care, since the poor damn voter would once again have sanity to vote for. The center would win, and the other parties would become laughing stocks. Their only way back to power would be to *compete* for the centrist voter once again. There’s millions of voters who will never vote for Trump and millions more who will never vote for Biden — but who might, all of them, vote for a respectable centrist.

Last edited 11 months ago by Ray Andrews
David Lindsay
David Lindsay
11 months ago

Imagine instead a viable Presidential candidate, already polling around six per cent, who was a roaring critic of cancel culture, not that some of us have ever not been cancelled, and of identity politics by reference to class politics. Imagine that he sat on the Board of Academic Advisors of the Classic Learning Test, which clearly did not object to his foreign policy positions. Imagine that his answer to why he was not a Marxist, since his views and alliances invited the question, was that dialectical materialism was incompatible with incarnational theology.

Cornel West bases it all on the glorious Matthew 25, which it is fashionable to stop reading at verse 40. But there are six more verses after that. You have to believe in Hell. You have to hold the fully orthodox Christology that alone upholds the authority of Jesus to send anyone there. That contains the seeds of the correction of the points on which West is wrong, though no more so than any other candidate, sometimes in different ways and sometimes not.

West’s candidacy opens the way, as his Presidency would open it even more clearly, for a successor who recognised that Christological orthodoxy, West’s protection against dialectical materialism, could not be separated from fidelity to the Petrine Office, with implications that were far more radical than anything that Marxism could ever formulate, much less deliver.

Last edited 11 months ago by David Lindsay
David Lindsay
David Lindsay
11 months ago

Imagine instead a viable Presidential candidate, already polling around six per cent, who was a roaring critic of cancel culture, not that some of us have ever not been cancelled, and of identity politics by reference to class politics. Imagine that he sat on the Board of Academic Advisors of the Classic Learning Test, which clearly did not object to his foreign policy positions. Imagine that his answer to why he was not a Marxist, since his views and alliances invited the question, was that dialectical materialism was incompatible with incarnational theology.

Cornel West bases it all on the glorious Matthew 25, which it is fashionable to stop reading at verse 40. But there are six more verses after that. You have to believe in Hell. You have to hold the fully orthodox Christology that alone upholds the authority of Jesus to send anyone there. That contains the seeds of the correction of the points on which West is wrong, though no more so than any other candidate, sometimes in different ways and sometimes not.

West’s candidacy opens the way, as his Presidency would open it even more clearly, for a successor who recognised that Christological orthodoxy, West’s protection against dialectical materialism, could not be separated from fidelity to the Petrine Office, with implications that were far more radical than anything that Marxism could ever formulate, much less deliver.

Last edited 11 months ago by David Lindsay