THE BLOG

Do Presidential Elections Really Matter?

10/16/2012 06:42 pm ET | Updated Dec 16, 2012
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It is remarkable how little we learn from history. Both Democrats and Republicans believe if their nominee gets elected, the serious problems our country faces will be tackled with a new vigor, and real change will actually occur.

But is this really what history proves will generally be the case? Take the deficit problem as an example. Economists and politicians universally believe that we must tackle the deficit problem, but does anyone really believe this urgent national problem will be addressed if the liberal wing of the Democrat party is unwilling to cut entitlements and conservative Republicans are unwilling to raise revenue?

So often in our history has a new president come into office with lofty ideals only to be stymied by the system. It just might be that politicians and the media overplay the importance of the outcome of presidential elections in determining the direction our country will take in the four years following the election. More often then not our national elections merely validate an establishment that never really changes.

I suggest this is exactly what is likely to occur this November unless a new paradigm is created that changes the temperament and the process by which Congress operates. The president can propose legislation, the president can use the bully pulpit, but the president's hands will be tied if we have a divided Congress, more interested in scoring points against the other political party then in solving problems.

Thus a new paradigm is needed that changes the current incentive of not reaching across the aisle to find common ground, so that our government can better serve the people by addressing the great issues of our time in a civil manner based on critical thinking.

The concept of Republicans and Democrats working together is not as simple as one might think given the need to overcome the powers in Washington that discourage cooperation. The lobbyists, the PACs, the party leadership all have a vested interest in putting their position and their party above the common interests of the country. And so, nothing gets done and problems get worse.

The American electorate is fed up with Congress putting party before country. That's why almost half of the voting public are independents, refusing to be labeled by any party affiliation. That's why basically 90 percent of Americans feel Congress is not serving their interests. And that's why it is time for a change.

Change is never easy in Washington, D.C. It will not be easy to overcome the power of interest groups and party leaders. Our political parties have organized themselves into warring clans that value defeating the other side over even the most basic acts of governing. Given that many of the problems with America's government have become election-proof change is needed.

Before every election, our politicians make promises about how they will fix our tax system. Reform immigration laws, improve our schools, address budget problems are promises made and never fulfilled. Unfortunately, after every election, these promises are crushed under the weight of the same poisonous rhetoric and partisan posturing.

America doesn't just need new people in office. We need a commitment to a new politics of problem solving. A politics that values a core belief we were all taught in college, that the search for solutions should be based on reason, logic and inquiry, where a conclusion follows from a set of premises; not the other way around. A new politics is needed that allows room for people from different parties and with different beliefs to sit around a table and make the tough decisions everyone knows need to be made.

There is only one organization in America promoting this agenda. It's called No Labels, and it is a fast-growing grassroots movement of 600,000 Democrats, Republicans and independents dedicated to moving America from the old politics of point scoring toward a new politics of problem solving.

No Labels is not a third-party movement based on split-the-difference centrism. They are instead hardheaded proponents of the idea that our leaders would be more willing to work across the aisle if there were actually a strong constituency that rewards them for doing so, as opposed to rewarding those leaders who promote conflict and punish those who seek compromise.

The Incentives must change!

The task will not be easy, but No Labels is building an army of supporters who can make it happen. No Labels has created a Make Congress Work Plan and a Make the Presidency Work plan that is gaining attention within the beltway. And just a month ago, No Labels held the first official meeting Problem-Solvers Bloc, bringing together members of Congress from both sides of the aisle.

Given the lack of civility and gridlock that has paralyzed our government in recent times it was amazing to see what happens when you get members of Congress with different viewpoints in the same room. These members of Congress dropped their party talking points and actually discussed solutions with their colleagues from across the aisle.

No Labels hopes to increase the size of this group to 40 by January of this year; 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans who realize that the time is now to work together for the good of the country.

On Jan. 14th, No Labels is holding a citizen leaders convention in New York City, to chart the path for the first 100 days of the new president and Congress, based on a new paradigm of civil discourse and critical thinking.

No Labels can be the facilitator for offering a safe place for thinking members of Congress to come together and offer real solutions to some very real problems. No Labels intends on increasing the size of the Problem Solvers Bloc by having the growing army of No Labels supporters, email, call, and visit their Congressman urging them to embrace this new paradigm.

No Labels can be a new force in Washington DC if the 70 percent of Americans in the middle make their voices heard.

Now is the time. The problems are too serious to put off yet again because we believe the new president will wave a magic wand and a divided Congress will automatically come together.