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Politics

Joe Cunningham’s ‘No Labels’ Campaign

“My name is …”

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A decade ago, I penned a column urging the “de-labeling” of American politics – arguing such self-adhesives were “based on expediency as opposed to ideology.” They still are. That column also took the mainstream media – a.k.a. “the undisputed king of label-making in America” – to task for perpetuating these false dichotomies.

“Labeling may make for dramatic television and bold headlines, but it ignores the real issues – the dollars and cents consequences of unsustainable government growth on tens of millions of American taxpayers (and their children and grandchildren),” I noted at the time.

Yeah … the national debt when I wrote that column was around $16.7 trillion. As of this writing, it has nearly doubled to $31.8 trillion. And to this jarring lack of fiscal sustainability we can now add the increasingly appalling absence of societal sustainability … as the incessant corporate, governmental and media indoctrination of our youth (particularly in the woke trans arena) is destroying lives and decaying our nation.

I’ve written on this in the past, but I plan on addressing these matters in even greater specificity in the weeks to come … laying down some moral demarcation lines in the hopes of helping arresting the leftward lurch of the Overton window on this front.

It’s ironic, though, isn’t it? Meaningless political labels are zealously preserved by the mainstream press for the purpose of perpetuating an “echo, not a choice” on key fiscal, monetary and regulatory policy. Meanwhile, the same media apparatus inculcates the absurd notion that you are “assigned” a gender at birth – but can decide you want to change it as a kindergartener.

Unlike the mainstream press, my news outlet believes in deconstructing labels. So, apparently, does erstwhile Democratic politician Joe Cunningham. Well, he believes in deconstructing some labels. Like “Democrat.”

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Joe Cunningham (Travis Bell Photography)

For those of you unfamiliar with this fratastic former U.S. congressman, he recently launched a political/ governmental consulting firm from the ashes of his spectacularly failed bid for governor of South Carolina last fall. For those readers who don’t recall, Cunningham got his ass absolutely handed to him by an uninspiring “Republican” incumbent last November – one who was dealing with a seriously divided base and saddled with an insipidly status quo legacy.

Is Cunningham a legitimate political/ governmental strategist? Eh … probably no more than he was an “ocean engineer.” Or a viable gubernatorial candidate.

Last week, Cunningham took to the pages of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier to tout his leadership of No Labels – a purportedly “national movement of commonsense Americans pushing our leaders together to solve our country’s biggest problems.”

According to Cunningham, U.S. president Joe Biden‘s flagging poll numbers are “opening a path to victory” for former U.S. president Donald Trump – who, in his words, “threatens the foundations of our democracy.”

Hmmmm. Somebody clearly hasn’t read that Durham report (.pdf) …

Nonetheless, Cunningham apparently believes he is the candidate best tap into growing Democratic frustration with Biden.

“Since Democrats are unable or unwilling to offer an alternative, I’m supporting an effort to secure a better choice for president in 2024,” Cunningham wrote. “The effort … will secure a place on the presidential ballot in all 50 states for a unity ticket featuring a Democrat and a Republican as running mates.”

Wait … so let’s get this straight. Both major U.S. political parties are full of it … so Cunningham wants to take the worst of both worlds and mash them together? I’m sorry but what part of slapping a crap sandwich and a shit burger together results in you biting into anything but … well … shit.

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Anyway, Cunningham has got it all figured out … positioning himself as the only one who can save the nation from “an extremist partisan doom loop.”

“Imagine a scenario where Trump chooses Nikki Haley as his running mate, widening his appeal and freshening up his image heading into the general election,” Cunningham continued. “He then runs not only against Joe Biden, but against the woefully unpopular Kamala Harris, who some see as the president-in-waiting in the event of a second Biden term. Democrats should have the humility to see that this will be a difficult choice for even many well-intentioned voters.”

Nikki Haley certainly sees it …

Cunningham did get one thing right: The party that nominated him for governor in 2022 hates his idea.

Days after his column was published, Democratic attorney Chris Kenney – a protégé of legendary Palmetto State trial lawyer and Democratic kingmaker Dick Harpootlian – blasted Cunningham’s “quixotic bid to diversify the political landscape” in his own Post and Courier editorial.

“Cunningham holds his group out as capable of assembling a centrist coalition, but it must demonstrate an ability to put its candidate on the ballot in all fifty states,” Kenny wrote. “Anything less exposes the effort for what it is — a spoiler campaign.”

According to Kenney – who has donated to several of Cunningham’s campaigns – the former congressman is doing nothing but backing a “dark money group’s decision to pursue a path that would all but guarantee Trump a second term.”

Kenney wasn’t alone in rebuking Cunningham’s ‘No Labels’ gambit.

“If he could appeal to independents he wouldn’t have lost South Carolina by 17 percent,” one Democratic lawmaker told me bluntly last week, referring to Cunningham as a “narcissist trying to stay relevant.”

“I’m betting he thinks the nominee for this third party will be him,” the lawmaker added. “Which shows that Cunningham never really cared about the cause. His focus has always been himself.”

“Blaming the Democratic party for his loss is ridiculous,” the lawmaker continued. “It was the same party four years earlier when the margin was over 40 percent better than his. He has no one to blame for that humiliating loss but himself. He’s the one who let the party down, not the other way around.”

Not content with letting Democrats down, Cunningham now seems intent on attempting to drive a stake through the heart of their prospective nominee in 2024. Luckily for those voting blue in the coming election? Cunningham is less adept at “doing” than he is at “saying.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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3 comments

Ralph Hightower Top fan May 19, 2023 at 3:19 pm

As the great philosopher, Pogo, once said “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Both political parties f’ed up in 2016. The Democrats chose Hillary because it was “her turn”, while the Republicans chose a candidate that was unqualified and mercurial, temperamentally unfit for office. As Senator Lindsey Graham (T-SC) once said “The Republican party has gone batshit crazy.” It took the death of Senator McCain (R-AZ) for me to realize that Graham doesn’t have a ethical, moral, or, constitutional compass. I was an independent, but the Republican party is now the Trump party.

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The Colonel Top fan May 19, 2023 at 5:06 pm

Cunningham is the living embodiment of a douchetastic, frat boy (though no frat would have him), never was, narcissistic millennial.

If he went back to South America to build docks or do yoga, the entire State of South Carolina would breath a sigh of relief.

Cunningham is the un-accomplished Democrat version of Andre Bauer.

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Kyle E. Blackwell August 18, 2023 at 10:03 pm

I was an intern on Cunningham’s failed Gubernatorial attempt from January last year to June last year. I was suspect early on that something was not quite right with the campaign. It just seemed to lack direction, although I was briefly falsely relieved when the education agenda was announced. As time went on, I realized how deeply shallow the candidate himself must be. For example, Joe had a laundry list of things that he could have aggressively thrown at Governor McMaster’s face in the debate (beating his Democratic opponent was not hard, and there was a huge laundry list of things against her.) the campaign just seem to lack desire. I remember when I came on board, a recently graduated Political Science major that Joe had hired to basically be his protege, he and I were talking on the facechat or some platform along those lines one evening, and I made a criticism of President Trump and how I hoped that elected Joe would help undermine much of the damage that Trump had perpetuated as President and of course thereby had effected our state in negative fashion. The fellow didn’t seem impressed by this comment. I then went on to talk about how I thought former candidate Vincent Sheheen was very close to winning in 2010, but he should have stayed on the campaign issues, instead of talking Nikki Haley’s alleged immoral conduct. The state leans Republican anyway, why make it personal? Aside from that I do still believe that Sheheen was a decent legislature and has done a lot of admirable things through his law practice. When I finished giving an analogy of why I thought Sheheen lost in 2010, the guy retorted, “We just got show people Joe doesn’t have horns.” I thought, what the hell does that mean? Is that as far as their thinking takes them? What hell is this? What are we doing? Then there was the insistence by the candidate at always appearing and making a point of sharing photos of him drinking wine and socializing with wealthy donors in and around Charleston. There were many in-roads I suggested making, having grown up in this State and knowing damn well every nook and cranny of it, but Cunningham refused to get his sleaves dirty. Joe repeatedly courted very wealthy donors in other states (By the way if you remember the legalized online gambling plan to pay for schools, he attempted to court the gambling industry prior to putting out that plan, I get you can tell someone something in private, but if I am one of those guys, why do I care, and even if I think I can profit off it and he can get his tax dollars from the plan, assuming he can get the legislature to implement it, am I really going to donate to his campaign without his announcing such a plan first? That’s right he courted this people before he announced what he was doing.) they all were reluctant mostly because they feel that the Democratic party candidates need to raise money from folks in their own state. They cannot donate to everyone of them, and more than one donor told the campaign that it hurts the Democratic Party when their candidates go to other states to raise money. The fact that the campaign was only attempting to connect with the wealthy was not the only thing that was starting to bother me, it was the incessant courting of Trump supporters. Yes that’s right. If a John Q. Trump supporter walked up to you from Bumb you know where Egypt with their MAGA cap on and told you a Democrat that they liked you just as much as Trump and they were going to give you a lot of money to help you win the Gubernatorial election of South Carolina, would you believe them? I sure as hell wouldn’t and would to a degree wonder if I was doing something wrong by having some hardcore Trump supporter telling me they liked me and my policies. Then there was the infamous My Amy all the way from Miami tiktok video. I mean it pissed me off. I told members of the campaign, when asked early on, what I thought could help Democratic candidates win in South Carolina or why past Democratic party nominees for Governor had lost, I told them that barring Sheheen, I thought it was because they came off as condescending and not having legitimate care in the issues they purported to have grave concern in. I gave them a brief history on recent gubernatorial elections in South Carolina, I told them that Jim Hodges won in 1998 partly because his plan was to get the state legislature to legalize a state lottery to pay for education and that in doing that there was an advertisement on television about Bubba a convenience store attendant over in Georgia bragging about his lottery sales, because, “Here in Georgia our Governor let’s us have a lotter, but ya’alls governor over there won’t let ya’all have a lottery. Here in Georgia we loooove David Beasley.” And that how other South Carolina Democrats had tried to duplicate that add and had been nauseatingly unsuccessful in doing so. So, what does Cunningham do but the same thing and put up a condescending tiktok video essentially making fun of voters for not knowing when the primary is, and saying that they are giving him dumb advice by implication by saying that they are asking him, “How are we going to get the young people out to vote?” of course set to the song “Miami, My Amy” by, Keith Whitley. That was about the end for me. Joe also refused to communicate with the average voter, unless at a function and he absolutely had too. He would not engage with voters that were supporting him on social media, such as Twitter even by merely giving their comment in support of him a thumbs up. I mean is that a lack of self-awareness and common-sense? I believe so. Then there were voter complaints that were not being addressed. If you all will remember, while yes he got clobbered in the general almost in every county, Rock Hill was not particularly strong for him in either the primary or the general. There people from Rock Hill communicating this to the campaign through the campaign tiktok and they refused to address these people’s concerns. Not even, a “We’re working on it. We’ll get somebody over there in Rock Hill and we’ll get you some yard signs and some bumper stickers. We’re going to come over there and see ya and talk to you folks.” I could continue to go on and on. Eventually, I left the campaign. I am not saying all Democrats from the Charleston area are bad, but they got a wealthy, corporate thing going on. Its like they believe themselves to be in some exclusive rich person club and that only the few have a say, and that would be them. On the issue of abortion, Cunningham, for reasons only known to him chose to try and aggressively posture for it, but he did it in a mealy mouth way. This was an issue that has held Democrats back for years. One night, while talking to a voter to get out the vote, I had initially worked in fundraising and finance, the voter asked me what Joe was going to say about abortion, because this is such a conservative state, and I told the voter my own wording, “Abortions should be safe, legal, and rare.” The voter was very impressed. I regret that the candidate did not put more deep thought, and more sophisticated thinking behind it. Also, I wish that he could have at least attempted to act as a leader. Instead we were to busy attracting Gen Z females that thought Joe was cute, and folks from out of state. Also, tiktok “Miami, My Amy” thing kind of put down elderly voters. I told the campaign multiple times, throughout the conversations that I was having with people on our list throughout our state, that undoubtedly Joe’s strongest supporters were senior citizens. I guess that was not too important to the campaign. Why piss off a voting block that is more likely to be reliable in coming in and voting, in order to make a voting block happy that is much less likely to vote on election day? A voting bloc that just wants to be apart of the fun? You got me. Here is a real kicker, I never got so much as a small thankyou email from Joe, but Joe’s father was willing to talk to me and give advice on my law school plans.

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