Former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and conservative West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin were unveiled Monday as the new co-chairmen of No Labels.
No Labels is a national bipartisan group of Republicans, Democrats and independents. Numbering a half-million members, their motto is, “Stop fighting, start fixing.” The group’s goal is to make government more effective through nonpartisan changes to Washington’s dysfunctional political culture. Initiatives include “No Budget, No Pay,” filibuster reform and reform of the Senate confirmation process.
ALSO ON MONDAY, Georgia Reps. Jack Kingston, a Republican, and John Barrow and Sanford Bishop, both Democrats, were announced as charter members of the No Labels-sponsored Problem Solvers Bloc. The bloc is a rapidly growing group of 25 Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. House and Senate dedicated to working across the aisle to make Congress function again.
Members of the Problem Solvers Bloc do not surrender their political identity. They remain loyal Republicans and Democrats, but they put the interests of the country above that of their parties.
I attended the No Labels’ meeting in New York City Monday, where Gov. Huntsman and Sen. Manchin were introduced. They spoke passionately to an audience of 1,300 enthusiastic No Labels members about the need for reform.
Gov. Huntsman and Sen. Manchin are disgusted by the contrast between serving as governors willing to work across party lines vs. the constant partisan warfare in Washington that creates perpetual gridlock.
No Labels proposes five simple principles of leadership for politicians. They are: Tell the whole truth about our national challenges; govern for the future, not the next election; put country ahead of party; take responsibility; and work together.
IMAGINE FOR A moment how effective Congress would be if, for example, politicians governed for the future and not just the next election. What if they put the country first? These are principles worth supporting, and you can learn more at NoLabels.org.
There couldn’t be a more urgent time for a group of national political leaders to band together to improve our political process. The fiscal cliff debacle will be followed by battles over the debt ceiling and sequestration. The
result? Market instability, business uncertainty, continued high unemployment and individual anxiety.
With America divided politically, neither party has the power to get all it wants. Because Americans are by nature practical and goal-oriented, citizens prefer action to ideological stalemate. Politicians need to adopt this point of view, begin political power-sharing and become problem-solvers.
Republican Olympia Snowe said it best upon her retirement from the Senate earlier this month: “For change to occur, our leaders must understand that there is not only strength in compromise, courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-building, but also a political reward for following these tenets.”
SEN. MANCHIN said he was embarrassed to be part of the 112th Congress, the least-productive and least-respected in American history. With more legislators joining the Problem Solvers Bloc, the 113th Congress can change that paradigm and become effective.
Jack Kingston, John Barrow, and Sanford Bishop deserve our support for their courage in stepping outside the comfort zone of party dogma into the difficult world of compromise and effective legislating. They are displaying leadership at a time when the country sorely needs it.
Shouldn’t the rest of Georgia’s congressional legislators become problem-solvers? Ask them: Why not?
(The writer is a retired U.S. Navy officer. He lives and writes in Savannah.)