Something that has received limited media attention is happening in Washington D.C., but is already transforming the dysfunction that currently permeates the Capitol.
A bipartisan grassroots political movement called No Labels (Nolabels.org), which now has over 800,000 followers, last week introduced a coalition of 80 members of Congress consisting of 40 Democrats and 40 Republicans who have decided it is time for Democrats and Republicans to put country before party. These courageous members of Congress have started working to find a common ground to address the serious problems facing our country.
Since January, when the No Labels Problem Solvers started meeting, something phenomenal has happened. In this age of deep partisanship and lack of civility between members of Congress No Labels has succeeded in getting 80 members from both the House and Senate to join the Problem Solvers coalition.
Having 80 members of Congress agree to bypass the party leadership and join the No Labels Problem Solvers, with the goal of finding win-win solutions to the significant problems confronting our country, is a truly unique accomplishment that I believe has the potential of being a game changer in Washington D.C.
First, the Problem Solvers had to build trust before seriously talking about specific legislation. That trust was built, and the discussions started with a fierce pragmatism and determination to get something done. These 80 members -- some very conservative and some very liberal-- realized from the outset that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but everyone is not entitled to their own facts, and they immediately set out to agree on the facts.
And now, in less than three months, these Democrats, Republicans, and Independents have agreed on a legislative package called Make Government Work, a set of nine proposals focused on tackling government waste and inefficiency.
The video found here outlines the nine agreed upon proposals:
The members of the coalition did not leave their principles at the door when they joined the No Labels Problem Solvers coalition. These 80 enlightened members of Congress understand that if principled members of Congress have a forum to dialogue in a private setting, trust will be built and solutions can be found.
About a year ago I wrote in the Huffington Post that our system of governance is not working and that gridlock is plaguing our great country. I said then -- and I still believe it now more than ever -- that the inability of Congress to effectively deal with the deficit and other serious problems is in part based on the strident party lines that have been established, which prevent members of Congress with opposing viewpoints from working together to find a common ground. I truly believe that commonsense solutions to our national challenges do exist.
When I first became involved with No Labels, people thought I was naïve. While most agreed that our process of governance is dysfunctional, many told me that the powers resisting change make change impossible. Given that No Labels at that time was just an idea, I had little to say in response except that I couldn't say for sure that No Labels could change the system, but I could say for sure that if no one tried the system would never change.
And now, almost three years later, now that No Labels has a powerful coalition of 80 members of Congress, soon to grow to almost 20 percent of all the members of Congress, I can say that a new paradigm of governance has started and will continue to grow. This great country must build upon our Founding Fathers' brilliant and exemplary framework to finish what they collectively intended but never managed to complete. We must define and implement a process of governance in our country built upon civil discourse and critical thinking.