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Joe Lieberman had a vision for America — No Labels can honor him with its presidential ticket 

The country lost a great American last week. Joe Lieberman, a successful politician and effective legislator, was known and respected for putting country over party, principle over partisanship. He was a close Senate colleague and devoted friend of John McCain, whose sacrifice for his country was a noble example for all Americans. 

Well, almost all.  

But Lieberman knew a true American hero when he met one. He shared with McCain a dedication to public service in a cause “greater than oneself.” That was why in 2008, Lieberman broke with the Democratic Party to support Republican McCain for president. 

By the time of the 2016 and 2020 elections, Lieberman had become increasingly concerned over the bitter partisan fissures undermining America’s domestic tranquility and threatening its national security. That was why, along with distinguished members of both parties, including Democratic civil rights leader Ben Chavis and Maryland’s former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, he joined in launching the No Labels movement, with a declared mission to support centrism and bipartisanship through “the commonsense majority” and address threats from “The Chinese Communist Party, Russia and other totalitarian regimes that […] seek to exploit America’s internal divisions.” 

Lieberman repeatedly promised the independent group would not play the role of third-party spoiler, as Ross Perot did to George H. W. Bush in 1992 and Ralph Nader did to Al Gore in 2000. Instead, Lieberman and his Democratic and Republican colleagues in No Labels pledged to field a joint bipartisan ticket with candidates of different political philosophies who are genuinely committed to working together for the common good.  

That seemingly mundane and once unremarkable task for any public-spirited politician has become an impossible achievement, thanks to the continually shifting center of gravity in both parties. Former President Trump and President Joe Biden personify the toxic partisanship that recently has dominated American politics. America’s enemies will be happy with either in power for four more years and are poised to exploit the recriminations and possible civil strife that will follow the reelection of either. 

Trump’s poisonous, unAmerican and increasingly anti-American behavior has been evident for years, and Democrats are pleased to remind voters on a daily basis of his general unfitness for the office. They fail to mention, however, how they and their allies in the media have effectively joined forces with MAGA Republicans to ensure that Trump would be the Republican nominee in 2024 — probably the only opponent Biden has a chance of defeating. The strategy backfired in 2016 with Hillary Clinton, but they seem willing to gamble with “the fate of American democracy” again, since Biden managed to defeat him in 2020 — and there are all those court actions conveniently brought by Democratic prosecutors. 

But Biden now has a presidential record to account for, and especially on national security, it has been consistent with the assessment of former Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said Biden “has been wrong on virtually every foreign policy issue over the last four decades.”   

That was before Biden’s catastrophic abandonment of Afghanistan, the worst foreign policy debacle in American history, and before his hesitant, vacillating, partial support for Ukraine — just enough to keep the war going but always short of what Ukraine needs to expel the Russian invaders. Democrats naturally prefer to focus on Trump’s obvious failings — which Trump seems to relish — while they ignore Biden’s own serious deficiencies that cry out for someone else as commander-in-chief.  

But that other “good old Joe” — Lieberman — and his No Labels colleagues believed that America could do better, and proposed to offer that choice to the voters. Now that April has arrived, voters are more anxious than ever about the depressing Biden-Trump dilemma — and more receptive to an alternative. 

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was the last competitor standing in the Republican primary, and although she has suspended her campaign, she could be well poised to pick up the anti-Trump vote on a No Labels ticket, and put her 94 delegates to good use. Gen. Jack Keane, who served as vice chief of staff of the United States Army, would be a highly competent, commonsense partner. So would Wesley Clark, James Stavridis, Cedrick Leighton, James Marks, and other distinguished military leaders.

If Haley and other Republicans are reluctant to openly defy Trump and his supporters, No Labels should launch a draft movement that will excite voters. With enough momentum to make victory possible, we are unlikely to see a Shermanesque statement, that “If elected I will not serve.”  

Joseph Bosco served as China country director for the secretary of Defense from 2005 to 2006 and as Asia-Pacific director of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief from 2009 to 2010. He served in the Pentagon when Vladimir Putin invaded Georgia and was involved in Department of Defense discussions about the U.S. response. Follow him on Twitter @BoscoJosephA.  

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