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No Labels makes its choice Judd Legum



(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

No Labels claims to be a non-partisan centrist organization. It describes itself as a movement for the “politically homeless.” But in practice, it has supported Republicans and very conservative Democrats. This year, No Labels has spent millions to secure ballot access across the country to put the group in position to run a candidate for president in 2024.

So far, it has succeeded in 11 states. No Labels says it is on track to secure ballot access in 20 states by the end of the year, and all 50 by election day 2024. It is a very serious, very well-funded effort that could help Donald Trump win. That’s because voters who dislike Trump and President Biden tend to vote for Biden. A No Labels candidate could siphon those votes to whoever No Labels nominate, giving Trump a critical edge. 

On its official website, No Labels says it is not trying to elect Trump but is committed to giving voters more choices

“Never before has such a large number of Americans expressed their concerns and expressed their views and their aspirations for more choices,” No Labels’ Benjamin Chavis told the Associated Press. No Labels’ commitment to giving voters more choices, however, appears sporadic. 

The group says it is not a political party, but in Arizona, No Labels needed to be recognized as a political party in order to get a line on the ballot. Under Arizona law, to qualify as a political party, a group must submit a petition signed by more than 1.3% of voters who cast ballots in the last gubernatorial election, or 34,127 valid signatures. No Labels, using paid canvassers, submitted 56,695 signatures and was recognized as a new party by the Secretary of State on March 8, 2023. “The No Labels Party has exceeded the minimum signature requirement and, therefore, qualifies as a new party for federal, statewide, and legislative races in the 2024 Primary and General Elections under Arizona law,” Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (D) said in a statement.

That’s when the trouble started. 

Two candidates filed “Statements of Interest” to run for office in the No Labels primary. Tyson Draper declared his interest in running for U.S. Senate in a No Labels primary. And Richard Grayson declared his interest in running for Corporation Commissioner, the state body that regulates electricity and other matters, under the No Labels banner. 

No Labels was not happy. The group wrote to Fontes and asked him to exclude both candidates from the ballot. So much for more choices. 

No Labels says it is not interested in holding primary elections and only wants to nominate candidates for federal office. Fontes’ office rejected this argument, telling No Labels it was legally obligated to accept letters of interest, the first step to an official candidacy, from anyone qualified to run. “The Arizona Secretary of State disagrees with your assertion that a newly recognized political party can choose to deprive its own voters of their constitutionally protected freedom of association,” State Elections Director Colleen Connor wrote in a letter on September 22. No Labels has vowed to file a lawsuit challenging the Secretary of State’s decision. 

The issue appears grounded in legal precedent. The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit  ruled in 2008 that “a ballot-qualified party with its own primary can’t disallow anyone registered in that party from filing in that party’s primary, regardless of the wishes of the party.”

Why is No Labels so concerned about keeping Draper and Grayson off the ballot? The unsolicited candidates, particularly Grayson, might force No Labels to disclose its donors. 

No Labels has kept its donors secret, relying on a 2010 federal appellate court decision, Unity08 v. FEC. Unity08, like No Labels, was considering nominating a candidate for president and spending money on ballot access. The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the Unity08 was “not subject to regulation as a political committee” by the FEC “unless and until it selects a ‘clearly identified’ candidate.” 

Grayson, if he runs for Corporation Commissioner as a No Labels candidate, could undermine No Label’s position. No Labels would be involved in state politics and, arguably, would be required to comply with state law. Grayson, a perennial candidate, has said he is running “to force [No Labels] to comply with Arizona’s campaign finance laws.”

The Arizona Democratic Party has filed a complaint with Fontes seeking to exclude No Labels from the ballot until it comes into compliance with Arizona campaign finance disclosure requirements. 

Who is paying for No Label’s $70 million scheme?

No Labels is reportedly spending $70 million preparing to run a candidate in the 2024 presidential election but has not voluntarily disclosed any information about its donors. According to Nancy Jacobson, who runs the group, “what’s best for Democracy is confidentiality.” 

But in 2018, the Daily Beast obtained “internal documents” that revealed “prominent executives from Fortune 500 companies and leading financial-services firms have contributed to No Labels’ 501(c)(4) dark-money group and its affiliated 501(c)(3) charitable arm.” The group received large donations from top executives running hedge funds and private equity firms, including Bain Capital, Centaurus Advisors, Oaktree Capital Management, Trian Fund Management, and Apollo Global Management.” The group has also solicited donations from prominent Trump supporters, “including PayPal founder Peter Thiel, businessman Foster Friess, and Home Depot founder Ken Langone.” The New Republic, citing an internal document, reported that between 2019 and 2021, No Labels received $130,000 from right-wing billionaire Harlan Crow

In March 2023, Semafor reported that “Wall Street backers of U.S. President Joe Biden are holding back on supporting him in the 2024 race, citing rules proposed by his Securities and Exchange Commission that target the financial services industry.” These executives are particularly upset with SEC chairman Gary Gensler who “has taken on everything from climate disclosure regulations to market-structure rewrites.”

Is No Labels a thinly disguised effort by Wall Street and Trump supporters to deny Biden a second term?


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Your Constitutional Right To Zyn Kiran Sampath




Photo illustration by The Free Press

According to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, they are a “sinister new threat to the health of young Americans.” Vox says they explain “the new ethos of conservative young men.” Business Insider frets that its users belong to “a subculture on the right that doesn’t just tolerate nicotine use, but venerates it.” 

A new front has opened up in the culture war, and the fight is over inch-long nicotine pouches called Zyns. The product was developed as a cleaner, healthier alternative to “Snus”—moist tobacco pouches tucked inside the gums. Zyn pouches offer all the nicotine without the sticky mess. In other words, Zyns are to Snus what Juuls are to cigarettes—and the latest wave in the push for ever more refined, automatic, and hassle-free nicotine delivery.

And they are popular. Nicotine pouches debuted in the U.S. in 2016 and sales grew by over 540 percent between August 2019 to March 2022. Brands like On! and Velo have played their part, but Zyn, the brand born in Sweden in 2014 and acquired by the tobacco behemoth Philip Morris in 2022, commands 75 percent of the market share as of 2023.

“Part of the appeal is the name.” says Wilson Nesbit, an economics student at Yale University. “It’s short. It’s sweet. And you can put it in a lot of words.” 

In other words, it’s memeable. “Monica Lezynsky,” Nesbit offers. “Zyn-Manuel Miranda. Qui-Gon Zyn.”

Nesbit lives on Lynwood Place, a small street just off Yale’s campus in New Haven, Connecticut. Lynwood is home to two churches, three fraternities, two secret societies, one Chabad house, and a boatload of nicotine. Hence the block’s new nickname, Zynwood. 

“It’s been known as Zynwood for two years,” says Nesbit, who lives with six boys in a house on the street. “The guys who lived here before us had a tent with the Zyn brand stamped across it.” More recently, he underwent an artistic project to solidify the community’s identity, collecting the empty Zyn tins from throughout the neighborhood—277 of them—and spelling out ZYNWOOD on the wall of their living room. 

The Zynwood sign. (Photo courtesy of Wilson Nesbit)

But Zyns aren’t just for college kids. Twentysomethings in corporate jobs now see them as a sophisticated way to get a nicotine hit.

“Vapes are unprofessional,” Andrew Schuler, a consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, former vaper, and Zyn user, tells me. “We need nicotine to cope with our jobs because they are extremely stressful,” says Schuler, who goes through three to four pouches a day. “But you’re not going to rip a clunky-looking, purple-colored vape at your desk.”

It’s also about optimization, he said. “Smoking a cigarette requires a break.”

“The guy who used to work at the desk next to me used to take meetings with a Zyn in his cheek,” says one friend, a former Goldman Sachs banker. 

For some, nicotine delivered via Zyns isn’t a nasty addiction, but something of a macho life hack. Arch-techbro Peter Thiel claims nicotine raises your IQ 10 points, while Tucker Carlson (Carlzyn?) proclaimed on Theo Von’s podcast, “Zyn is a powerful work enhancer” as well as “a man enhancer.” (Last December, the Nelk Boys podcasters gifted Carlson the world’s largest Zyn, delivered via helicopter.) But it isn’t neccessarily just right-wingers who use Zyn: a recent picture of Squad member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showed a Zyn pack-shaped bulge in her white jeans. 

Tucker Carl-zyn with the world’s largest Zyn, and a regular-sized packet for scale. (Image via X)

In January, Chuck Schumer called for a crackdown on Zyns. “Amid federal action against e-cigs and their grip on young people, a quiet and dangerous alternative has emerged and it is called Zyn,” Schumer said, warning that Zyns “lock their sights on teens and use social media to hook them.”

As part of his crackdown, Schumer wants to investigate how Phillip Morris has marketed Zyn, and whether the firm has targeted minors. In 2023, Juul agreed to pay $462 million to settle lawsuits into the marketing of vaping products to children. But, rather than investing in social media influencers or extensive advertising campaigns, Zyn has relied on organic viral traction in the U.S. 

A spokesman for Zyn says the company’s marketing practices “are focused on preventing underage access and set the benchmark for the industry.” 

But even Nesbit says Schumer is right to worry about young people getting hooked on the pouch. “It’s an easy introduction for youths that haven’t used nicotine,” he told me over the phone from Zynwood. “Mitigating youth usage should be a top priority, but finding the right approach is another story.” 

Others see ingesting Zyns as a constitutional right, and Schumer as an enemy of freedom. As Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene recently exclaimed on X about his crackdown : “This calls for a Zynsurrection!”

Kiran Sampath is a researcher and reporter. Read her last piece about the temple in New Jersey that took 12 years and $96 million to build.

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South Korea Is Running Out of Kids. Is This America’s Future? Anna Louie Sussman




In January, more than 150 schools in South Korea had no new first graders. (Photo by Busà Photography via Getty Images)

If you’ve been on TikTok in the last few weeks, you might have seen that American women are talking about 4B. The South Korean feminist movement gets its name from the “Four Nos” its adherents commit to: no dating, no sex, no marriage, no childbirth. In short, 4B, which began around 2019, encourages women to actively avoid men as much as possible. That it’s now trending in the U.S. raises an uncomfortable question: Are our gender politics starting to look like Korea’s? And if so, will the demographic consequences be as extreme?

Right now, South Korea is running out of kids. Last week, it was reported that the Education Ministry plans to reduce the number of teacher training places, citing the precipitous decline in students, which is so extreme that in January of this year more than 150 schools across the nation had no new first graders. Six years ago, the average number of children a South Korean woman had in her lifetime was 0.92, a figure rarely seen outside wartime; since then, it’s fallen all the way to 0.78, with a projection of 0.65 in 2025. In Seoul, the capital, it’s already at 0.59

When I visited Seoul in 2022 to report on why Koreans aren’t having babies, I often found myself wondering: Could this happen in America? Our nation’s fertility, though significantly below the replacement rate of 2.1, is currently higher, at 1.8. But, in the course of dozens of conversations with Koreans of reproductive age, I heard more extreme versions of sentiments I’d started to observe at home. 

Today, Americans who want a good old-fashioned heterosexual relationship struggle to find someone who shares their values. Analysis has shown a gigantic mismatch in the nation’s dating pool: for each single liberal woman, there exist 0.6 single liberal young men. Conservative young men have it even worse, with just 0.5 single conservative young women available to choose from. At the end of last year, the pollster Dan Cox found that this divide is particularly intense among American members of Gen Z, whose oldest members are now 27, the average age of a first-time mother in 2022. 

In Gen Z, Cox showed, women and men are much further apart on fundamental questions of gender equality than the generation before them: whereas 52 percent of millennial men say they’re feminists, compared to 54 percent of women, the equivalent figures for Gen Z are 43 percent and 61 percent. In 2019, a third of adult men under 30 said they face discrimination based on their sex; only five years later, that number has increased to almost half.

Recent data suggest this gender divide is global—and growing. In January, a Financial Times report showed the wide, and widening, divergence in political values between young women and men. This is true in South Korea and the U.S. but also in China, Germany, and the UK.

Americans haven’t given up on having a family to the extent that South Koreans have. In 2023, about 35 percent of Koreans said they don’t think having children after marriage is necessary, a figure that rose to more than 57 percent among 19- to 24-year-olds. By contrast, a recent Gallup poll found that the vast majority of Americans under 30 “either already have children (21 percent) or hope to someday (63 percent).” 

But young American women haven’t just been making TikToks about 4B out of curiosity—an increasing number are genuinely swearing off male partners, with the hashtag #celibacyjourney racking up tens of millions of views. A New York Times op-ed published in February described going “boysober” as “this year’s hottest mental health craze.” Meanwhile, men who identify as “involuntarily celibate” are retreating to online echo chambers that, one 2022 study suggested, now harbor eight times as many instances of degrading language toward women than they did in 2016. In the twelve months after December 2022, self-described misogynist Andrew Tate’s following on X increased from 3 million to 8.5 million.

Conservative politicians across the globe are capitalizing on these divides. Not long before I arrived in Korea, the president Yoon Suk-yeol had coasted into office in May 2022 on a wave of anti-feminist campaign promises, in what multiple observers described as an “incel election.” For the first time, young men describing themselves as anti-feminist were seen as an influential voting bloc, with Yoon promising to abolish the nation’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. (He has not yet succeeded.)

In the U.S., the Republicans also appear to be aggressively courting the male vote. Since the fall of Roe, the Republican Party has become actively hostile to women’s reproductive rights, pushing female voters left. And some of the party’s most influential members are now stoking a war between men and women.

In a breathtakingly offensive comment last January, Florida congressman Matt Gaetz called for the Republican Party to all but forget about female voters, saying that “For every Karen we lose, there’s a Julio and a Jamal ready to sign up for the MAGA movement.” Fox News host Jesse Watters has been even more explicit in singling out liberal single women as the GOP’s nemesis, alighting, somehow, on matrimony as an electoral strategy. 

“Single women are breaking for Democrats by 30 points,” he said after the 2022 midterms. “We need these ladies to get married,” he warned, following up with an order: “Guys, go put a ring on it.” 

And yet a recent poll found that 40 percent of Republicans said they don’t believe marital rape should definitely or probably be prosecuted, suggesting the party’s not overflowing with eligible bachelors. 

All signs point to an ever-widening rift between the sexes. And if women and men become sworn enemies, America is going to start running out of kids, too.

Anna Louie Sussman is a journalist covering gender, economics, and reproduction. She is a 2024 Alicia Patterson Fellow

For more on America’s gender divide, read Rikki Schlott’s piece, “When It Comes to Sex, My Generation Is Screwed,” and become a Free Press subscriber today:

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April 15, 2024 Garamond





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