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David L. Nevins

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Putting Country Before Party

Posted: 01/25/2013 1:26 pm

Almost one year ago I published an article in The Huffington Post entitled, "Our System of Governance Is Not Working." At that time, I wrote of the dysfunction and gridlock that is plaguing our great country. The inability of Congress to effectively deal with the deficit and other serious problems in the last year adds credence to the words I wrote then.

Last year I expressed my feeling that something must be done to end the partisanship and gridlock in our country. I spoke of a new organization called No Labels (NoLabels.org) where I've been volunteering my time.

This movement of over 600,000 Democrats, Republicans and Independents is dedicated to the simple proposition that common-sense solutions to our national challenges exist and our government should be able to address and resolve these challenges successfully.

When I first became involved with No Labels, many of my friends and associates told me "the system can never change" and that I was merely wasting my time. I told them that our Founding Fathers were considered to be idealists by some, and that the Constitution they designed still endures 200-plus years later.

I feel now more then ever that we can and must build upon their 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.

No Labels stands apart not as a third party, but rather is a movement advocating a shift in focus and intention away from infighting and demagoguery, to civil discourse that is framed by critical thinking. Until now, there have been no political movements in this country based on cooperative, constructive, problem-solving governance. However, with the emergence of No Labels as a viable political force and savvy grassroots movement of over half a million Democrats, Republicans and Independents, there is finally reason for optimism.

On January 14, No Labels held the "Make America Work" meeting in New York attended by close to 2000 participants. At this meeting, our two new national leaders, Republican Governor Jon Huntsman and Democrat Senator Joe Manchin, were unveiled. No Labels now has two respected voices to spread the word nationally.

Just nine days later, on Jan. 23, No Labels' unique idea, No Budget- No Pay, passed the United State House of Representatives with 86 Democratic votes and 199 Republican votes. Without the support from both sides of the aisle, it could not have happened.

The momentum is building, with more and more national media coverage and with the continued growth of the Problem Solvers coalition. This coalition, consisting of 25 members of Congress (13 Democrats and 12 Republicans) who are dedicated to being a part of the Problem-Solvers coalition, represent a new paradigm of putting our country before party. This is not just a slogan. The United States has extremely serious problems that can only be solved if more members of Congress take the lead and reach across the aisle in search of win-win solutions.

No Labels is working toward a congressional Problem Solvers coalition of more than 70 by the end of this year.

There are other like-minded organizations supporting the efforts of No Labels to end the gridlock and dysfunction that permeates Washington. In this context, exciting news has just been announced. The League of Women Voters, The Junior Statesman of America and BIPAC are now partnering with No Labels.

The League of Women Voters has a long history of gathering facts to spark a conversation aimed at reaching understanding and agreement on issues. The League believes that as a country we are finding it harder and harder to find a common set of facts around which we can have a conversation and that in many ways, legislative bodies appear to be fact-free zones these days. The collaboration between No Labels and The League is still evolving, but there is one thing that both organizations clearly believe in. We cannot come together as a community or a country without both facts and collaboration.

BIPAC is the nation's first business political action committee established in 1963. Since then, it has led in virtually every facet of business, PAC development and innovation. BIPAC assembles pro-business, winning coalitions in Congress that depend on the business community's commitment to seek out and support new voices and advocates.

The support of the Junior Statesman of America is particularly exciting to me because I feel the work of No Labels is focused on leaving a better country for our children and grandchildren.

The mission of the JSA is to strengthen American democracy by educating and preparing high school students for life-long involvement and responsible leadership in a democratic society. The JSA cultivates democratic leadership skills, challenges students to think critically, advocate their own opinions and develop respect for opposing views and learn to rise above self-interest to promote the public good.

I am more confident then ever that No Labels can be the vehicle of change we all so much desire. Of course to succeed No Labels needs the support of hundreds of thousands more Americans. If more Americans listen to these words of Thomas Jefferson the political process can change:

Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.

You can make a difference. Go to NoLabels.org to learn more.

 

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