A “No Labels” Congress?

 I vividly remember President Obama’s first inauguration ceremony. I was in the seventh grade, and our entire class was eagerly listening to his speech on the radio. Although I cannot remember much of what was said, I have not forgotten a few of the President’s words that day, that “On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.”

Fast forward four years later, and many might doubt that statement’s sentiment–conflict and discord would accurately describe social and political relations between the haves and the have-nots, the liberals and the conservatives, and the Giants and the Dodgers. It is my genuine hope that in the next four years can bring about a certain level of stability by dealing the contentious issues that divide us. But how likely is that?

Jon Huntsman has championed bipartisanship through his “No Labels” initiative. Source: Gage Skidmore

Bipartisanship has taken the newest session of Congress by storm, eager to shed their predecessor’s label as the most unproductive Congress in history. In fact, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman (R) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) are leading an initiative called “No Labels.” The program, aimed at promoting bipartisanship in American Politics, seeks to create an efficient, cordial setting, evidenced by its slogan, “Stop fighting, start fixing!” Having said this, the initiative does not seek to eliminate party affiliations and platforms. Rather, it encourages productive debates about the merits of certain platforms. With alienating points of contention such as healthcare, gun control, and foreign policy left unaddressed by the last session of Congress, Washington needs immediate reform. So genuine are the initiative’s efforts that the program stipulates that if Congress does not pass a federal budget on time, then no one gets paid. Jon Huntsman, a presidential candidate in the 2012 primaries, describes the program as a group of “people of different ideologies but like minds, that of problem-solving together for the sake of the American people.”

Admittedly, there is some distrust in this new initiative–many believe that “No Labels” is a ploy to deflect the negative attention that media outlets have come to associate with Congress. However, journalist Leonard Pitts believes that this program is at the very least, a much-needed start. “The alternative,” Pitts explains, “is to remain what we are: a tire spinning in snow, making a lot of noise, digging in deeper and going nowhere.” For the immediate future, it seems that Congress has chosen to put on some snow chains and accelerate on forward.

Sources

Leonard Pitts, Jr., The Baltimore Sun. “No Labels, no excuses” (2013).

Martha T. Moore, USA Today. “Bickering to bipartisanship: Long road for lawmakers?” (2013).

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