Guest opinion: To help fix D.C. logjam, support No Labels
There is a big problem in America, and everyone knows what it is.
Our leaders in Congress and the White House have organized themselves into warring clans that value defeating the other side over the most basic acts of governing. The debt ceiling debacle of 2011 and the fiscal cliff fiasco of 2012 are a troubling foretelling of America’s future if our government continues on its current course.
We need our leaders to find a way to work together, and the only way it will happen now (after we re-elected most of the members of the worst do-nothing Congress in history) is to demand it. Washington does not change without pressure from the outside, and coalition building from the inside.
In today’s Washington, Democratic and Republican political leaders increasingly don’t know each other, listen to each other, or even sit in the same room together. A typical week of a member of Congress is dominated by party caucuses and policy and fundraising meetings focused on destroying the opposing party. Few members actually discuss and negotiate substantive issues with the other side, and those who do are often punished by their parties and respective bases.
The only way our leaders in Washington will change is with support from a focused, organized and strategic movement working to bring our leaders together to solve our nation’s most pressing problems. This is the movement that No Labels is leading. Please check us out at www.nolabels.org.
No Labels is a fast-growing movement of Republicans, Democrats and Independents who want to move America toward a new politics of problem-solving. Our approach is threefold.
We knew the first step in getting our leaders to pay attention to us was by mobilizing citizens across America. When No Labels was launched in December 2010, we started with fewer than 1,000 supporters. Using the same digital communications and organizing tools that citizens have used to elect presidents and overthrow oppressive governments, we have grown in two years to closer to 1 million supporters, including more than 4,200 from Washington.
Secondly, through the development of a new “problem-solvers bloc,” No Labels is recruiting House and Senate members who want to get things done and are committed to working across the aisle to find effective, principled and pragmatic solutions to our country’s problems.
Lastly, we are focusing on breaking down the structural problems that push our leaders apart. We have released two comprehensive action plans that are as straightforward as their titles: “Make Congress Work!” and “Make the Presidency Work!” These plans are gaining traction on Capitol Hill, with one of the proposals, “No Budget, No Pay,” already a bill with significant numbers of co-sponsors in the House and the Senate. Our third action plan, “Make America Work!” offers a blueprint for a new kind of leadership that can restore confidence in the future of our country.
This weekend, six to eight Washington members are traveling to New York City to participate with 1,300 other supporters in a meeting titled “Make America Work!” Look for news of new No Labels leadership for next year, the House and Senate members of our problem-solvers bloc, and the elements of the Make America Work! action plan.
No Labels does not expect anyone to shed their identity when they join our movement. Our supporters are conservative Republicans, liberal Democrats, and everywhere in between. We are, however, united by the conviction that people with different beliefs really can set aside the labels and come together to solve problems. Most members of Congress are also frustrated by the partisanship in Washington, D.C. Many are looking to set aside strict party discipline, and the No Labels message offers precisely that opportunity.
Can you get involved or help? Check out what we are doing on our website. If you like what you see, join us; follow us this week in New York City online, and maybe in the news; contact Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and ask them to join the congressional problem-solvers bloc; demand they show leadership and courage by supporting No Labels’ Make Congress Work! reforms like No Budget, No Pay, filibuster reform, five-day workweek, up or down votes on presidential appointments, etc. There will be more things we can do. We can use your help. So can our country.
Steve Lindberg is a retired human resources manager and supporter of No Labels for two years.