Goldson Testifies To “No Labels”

Paul Bass PhotoNEW YORK- The egg that landed on Darnell Goldson’s porch in the West Rock neighborhood reemerged—in narrative form—at the launch Monday of a new national movement to take “labels” out of American political decision-making.

Goldson (pictured) was one of a group of “citizen leaders” from around the country chosen to address 1,000 attendees in the opening hour of a founding gathering of a movement calling itself “No Labels.” The movement aims to create 50 state chapters of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents to support policies and candidates in the political center. Or, based on what some speakers were saying Monday morning, candidates who can compromise with other politicians.

Independent U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman was also scheduled to address the gathering Monday morning. He had “travel problems,” according to an organizer; it was unclear whether he would show up later.

Click here and here to read previous Independent coverage of the new movement and the role of Connecticut founders like Goldson, a New Haven alderman; East Rock activist Debra Hauser; Yale environmentalist Dan Esty; and downtown businessman Brett D. Hellerman.

Paul Bass PhotoMonday’s conference is taking place at Aflred J. Lerner Hall at Columbia University. It began with remarks from the movement’s cofounders, including CNN personality John Avlon, who argued that majority of Americans come from the political center, so political candidates should, too. Cofounder Nancy Jacobsen offered a slightly different spin. “Never give up your label,” she said. “Just put it aside so government can do what it needs to do” and pass “common sense” laws.

New York Times columnist David Brooks (pictured) acknowledged in an opening address that most new intellectual ideas come from the right and left, not the center. He called for the movement to promote a culture of compromise and good “behavior” among politicians.

Bad behavior was the theme of Darnell Goldson’s approximately one-minute-long testimony to the crowd. He told the crowd about how this fall his home was vandalized because he defied political party labels. (Read about that incident here.)

“I am a Democrat by accident of birth,” Goldson said. “I have the dubious distinction of having had my house egged a couple of weeks ago. My crime was that I endorsed a Democrat for governor and Republican for Senate.”

Goldson endorsed the movement’s founding credo of supporting the best ideas and candidates regardless of party label. “What’s become of our political system is that you cannot have a different opinion ... outside your party,” he said. He said he chooses instead to support “what is good for my city.”

His message resonated with Lisa Moxley (at right in photo), who “bonded” with Goldson during the mid-morning conference break. Moxley ran for mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, this year. After losing the Democratic primary, she endorsed the Republican candidate.

“We’re all looking for solutions. We’re all result-oriented,” Moxley said. “I don’t consider it a compromise of my core Democratic principles to support those principles where I find them.”

What are those principles? So far Monday, speakers and organizers have opted for overriding themes: bipartisanship, smart solutions to challenges like affordable health care and top-notch education and the economy. The movement’s website includes a “Declaration” of commitment to cooperation. But at this point there hasn’t been any talk about nitty-gritty positions that people might disagree with each other about.

That’s the right strategy, Brett Hellerman said at the break. First comes the challenge of organizing a million members across the country around an overriding vision of post-partisanship and common sense, he said; then comes hammering out a platform that at least “50 percent of the country” can agree with.

“David Brooks was right,” Hellemerman (pictured) said of the Times pundit’s speech. “We’re going to have to have a platform of ideas—eventually. Now we’ve got to build the movement.”

Hellerman expressed enthusiasm about the turnout, including the participation of current and former U.S. senators like Dan Glickman, Kirsten Gillibrand, Evan Bayh.

“It’s not an outsider’s movement,” he said. “It’s tax-paying educated adults [prodding] professional politicians to do the right thing.”

“I think,” Debra Hauser said, “the idea resonates with people.”

Previous coverage of the No Labels movement:

“No Labels” Gets Local Foothold
Can “No Labels” Spark A Climate Fix?

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posted by: john on December 13, 2010  12:45pm

“What are those principles? So far Monday, speakers and organizers have opted for overriding themes: bipartisanship, smart solutions to challenges like affordable health care and top-notch education and the economy.”
But at this point there hasn’t been any talk about nitty-gritty positions that people might disagree with each other about.”

RES IPSA LOQVITVR. These “themes” could have come straight from either current major party’s platform, could they not?

posted by: Rocco on December 13, 2010  12:48pm

If these good people are looking for the political center, they could have save themselves a lot of time and money and joined the tea party. What they are trying to do, has been done.

posted by: Brian M. on December 13, 2010  2:01pm

You’re really devoting resources to this?

I can’t believe Goldson is still whining about the egging. In 2000, I had my car scratched for putting a Gore sticker on it.

I stopped complaining about it in 2000.

It sounds like people don’t like Goldson not because he backed a Republican senate candidate, but because he isn’t trustworthy. He can’t be taken at his word. “Untrustworthy” is the label he’s wearing, and a meeting in New York won’t change that.

This all seems like a thing where people who can’t win elections or primaries get together and talk about how they’re right anyway, imagine that they’re at a political center that doesn’t exist, that there are centrist positions on issues that are pretty clear cut, and how unfair it is that they have to participate in majoritarian politics.

Politics is about important stuff. Sometimes that can be divisive. If you don’t have the moral courage to take a stand, or you think it’s just too hard, you should find another career.

After all, what was the ‘centrist’ position on civil rights? On slavery? On segregation?

Centrists backed this war, got us into this economic mess, and created DADT. They have alot to answer for.

Instead of talking about how awesome they are, they should start issuing apologies.

posted by: Blah Tea on December 13, 2010  2:09pm

@ Rocco, the tea party is often racist,and linear group of thinkers, with a closed minded non community focused agenda. They want there country back to when a a person of color was’nt treated fairly but had to work with laws robbed him of his integrity and rights that benefited everyone outside of his race.

posted by: Cedarhillresident on December 13, 2010  2:31pm


I am not so sure that the tea party (at least what I have seen) is anywhere near the center. Infact I think they are even further to the other side than the dems. I am thinking this is more of an option for the conservative Dem and the moderate Rep. Or at the least people of both partys that are willing to work together to find a way to save this country.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 13, 2010  2:31pm

Why not just have Proportional Representation.

posted by: md24 on December 13, 2010  3:33pm

In reading the comments so far (on this and in other related stories), it seems those with negative comments about this initiative are only driving home the message these folks are talking about - why does there have to be “an agenda” or “principles”.  All they’re saying is that someone doesn’t have to be polarized on every topic or they’re out of the club (please shoot me if anyone calls me a republican or a democrat - both groups should be ashamed with themselves lately).  Why is it so terrible that someone can believe in one thing that Democrats typically back while still backing another thing that Republicans typically back.  There are more of these people out there than the two parties wish to believe - now there may be a place to congregate.  Kudos!

posted by: Chris Ozyck on December 13, 2010  10:08pm

I’m a proud moderate. I always found it ironic that a country that celebrates the individual, polarizes into “us” and “them”. As much as I like this idea, I will still shy away from aligning with “No Labels” especially if they create platforms.  Civics over partisan politics,  public servants not politicians.

posted by: Bill on December 14, 2010  10:41am

Obviously “Blah Tea” and “Cedarhill Resident” want to continue with labels.

Do you even know what the TEA stands for?

posted by: robn on December 14, 2010  1:51pm

Not interested.

It says a lot about this “movement” that they would give the microphone to Alderman Goldson, who continues to martyr himself for a couple of (supposedly) thrown eggs. Its far from Montgomery.

posted by: Cedarhillresident on December 14, 2010  5:30pm

Bill ???? Not really. I have gone against my party voting and campaigning. But if your comment is intended to be in defense of the Tea Party, ya then I guess you are right. Were was the tea party this week?—k-congress

patriots really? I agree with some things Republican are asking and alot of what dem’s are asking…somewhere in between that is the realistic middle.
When the tea party first came out I found it to be an interesting concept. But then the extremest took it over and are outright hateful and are not shy about it. That does not mean all tea party people are like that. But hey all I see is hate coming from the more vocal ones. That really has nothing to do with party’s that has to do with humanity.

Again I find this to be interesting and I am willing to follow where it goes. But like tea party, is it sponsored by big corporations?