Eschewing partisan politics seems to be the theme of Washington rhetoric lately, nevermind that nobody is actually doing anything about it.
Make that almost nobody.
At an inaugural meeting in New York, a group of elected officials declared their allegiance to a new kind of politicking: anti-partisanship, within a new organization called “No Labels.”
It might not be a revolutionary idea, but it’s sure off to a good start.
Their first gathering, which took place on Monday, attracted about 1,000 attendees, according to the Associated Press, including the city’s independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Los Angeles’s Democratic Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, ex-Florida Governor Charlie Crist and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), among others.
“Putting aside our labels can offer a hopeful alternative, grounded in an approach that brings people together to develop practical solutions to common problems,” the group said on their website. “That doesn’t mean that we forget about our differences. It does mean that we regard those with whom we disagree as legitimate voices in the dialogue of democracy, as citizens who might have a piece of the answer to tough questions.
“In this spirit, No Labels will bring together leading thinkers from the left, right, and all points in between. We will work to break down false divisions and lift up the common ground on which we can build solutions. Real differences of principle will remain, of course. But we believe that as Americans, more unites us than divides us.”
It wasn’t immediately clear how the group offered a distinct difference in terms of policy considerations when compared to either Republicans or Democrats. Their platform — maintaining America’s economic strength, setting an energy agenda that defends national security and promoting better education — is taken directly from the essential planks of both dominant parties.
But perhaps that’s the point: to break down the barriers and carve a neutral space for discussion, where everyone already agrees on the goals.
“We offer these ideas, not to end the debate but rather to begin it,” the group explained. “What really matters in our democracy are the conclusions citizens reach after they have had a fair and open chance to weigh the alternatives. The purpose of No Labels is to provide that chance–to create a convening ground where ideas can be judged on the merits, not their conformity to pre-fabricated stereotypes. The point is not whether we move left or right; it’s whether we move forward.
A declaration of intent, which the group asked supporters to sign, follows.
We are not labels – we are people.
We care deeply about our country.
We are frustrated and concerned about the tone of politics.
We are passionate about addressing America’s challenges.
We are Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
Most importantly, we are Americans.
We believe hyper-partisanship is destroying our politics and paralyzing our ability to govern.
We may disagree on issues, but we do so with civility and mutual respect.
We believe in the vital civil center — a place where ideas are judged on their merits.
We believe that together we can make the future better and brighter — and give us what we all deserve — a government and a political system that works — one driven by shared purpose and common sense.
We believe our politics can change, so that government will work again and produce better results.
The consequences of inaction have never been greater, because the issues we face have never been more serious, more complicated, or more dangerous.
And yet, we have a crisis of governance – A crisis that compels us to work together to move America forward.
We must put our labels aside, and put the issues and what’s best for the nation first.
A promising future awaits us.