What is No Labels?

No Labels is a growing citizens’ movement of Democrats, Republicans and independents dedicated to promoting a new politics of problem solving. We are unlike any organization in America. The most powerful interest groups in our nation’s capital work to push our leaders and our political parties apart. No Labels is working to bring them together to forge solutions to our nation’s problems. We welcome people left, right and everything in between as long as they are willing to collaborate with one another to seek a shared success for America. This new attitude is what No Labels is all about.

Since its inception, No Labels has developed reform plans to fix the dysfunction in our Congress and throughout the federal government and built an unprecedented bipartisan group of problem solvers on Capitol Hill. In 2014, No Labels kicked off its most ambitious initiative to date with its National Strategic Agenda, which will entail a yearlong effort to forge agreement on where American needs to go and how we get there.

What type of organization is No Labels?

No Labels is a 501(c)(4) social welfare advocacy organization dedicated to activating citizens, organizing leaders and pushing for reforms to move America toward a new attitude of problem solving.

Why the name No Labels?

We understand there are real philosophical differences between Democrats, Republicans and independents. And we don’t expect our leaders or No Labels supporters to check their principles at the door.

But philosophy and principle have little to do with the dysfunction in Washington, D.C., where political games and pettiness increasingly drive the decision-making of our leaders.

Too often, it’s not the quality of a leader’s ideas that matters, but the label – Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative – that he or she wears.

You don’t need to shed your identity to join the No Labels movement. You can be a proud liberal, a proud conservative or a staunch independent. You just need to be open to the idea that people with different beliefs really can set aside the labels and come together to make our government, and our country, work again.

Why does No Labels start with “no”?

No Labels means rejecting the status quo — saying “no” to the gridlock. In order to be effective, our leaders must work together with no preconditions. We’re changing the culture in Washington, starting by telling our leaders that we won’t stand for more of the same gridlock. We’re saying “no.”

No Labels is not a negative, though, it’s a positive movement toward the new politics of problem solving. Just like our forefathers who began the American Revolution with “no taxation without representation,” we’re standing up against what’s not working and calling for solutions.

Who has joined No Labels?

No Labels has already rallied hundreds of thousands of Americans behind our cause. Our supporters have different politics and they come from all walks of life. If you attend a local No Labels meeting, you will find university and student leaders, current and former elected officials, community and non-profit leaders, representatives from the business and legal community and many more.

Some of our supporters are long-time veterans of political and civic causes. Others are engaging for the first time. But all our supporters are tired of the hyper-partisanship and dysfunction afflicting our government. And all of us are committed to changing the way our government and our country works for the better.

Is No Labels a think tank?

No Labels has a unique view on the root causes of dysfunction in our government and the required solutions.

Many reform groups are focused on the big systemic fixes like reducing the influence of money in politics or gerrymandering.

These are really important endeavors. But they are tough, multi-year, state-by state slogs with very uncertain odds of success that. And that is not where No Labels is focused.

No Labels believes America’s challenges are so urgent that we need to find a way to bring the country together largely within the system and with the leaders we already have.

What’s required is a new framework for how our leaders make decisions.

And the National Strategic Agenda is how we do it.

What is the National Strategic Agenda?

No Labels is calling for America’s leaders to support a new governing process to build a National Strategic Agenda centered on four goals. These goals – chosen with input from a nationwide survey that No Labels conducted last fall – are:

Create 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years; Balance the federal budget by 2030; Secure Medicare and Social Security for the another 75 years; and Make America energy secure by 2024.

The National Strategic Agenda will be created with input from people across America beginning with the National Ideas Meeting. Subsequent events in New Hampshire, Iowa and elsewhere will enable No Labels to take the pulse of people across America and to ultimately forge agreement on a full policy plan to achieve the goals of the National Strategic Agenda. More than 80 members of Congress have endorsed the process to create the National Strategic Agenda.

What is the goal of the National Strategic Agenda?

The completed National Strategic Agenda will be unveiled in New Hampshire on October 5, 2015 just as the presidential election campaign season is ramping up.

No Labels will work to inject the agenda into the presidential debate by activating its citizens, members of Congress, and state and local leaders in New Hampshire and ultimately across America.

No Labels’ ultimate goal is for the next president and next Congress to sit down together in early 2017 and use the National Strategic Agenda as a basis for bipartisan action.

Why does America need a National Strategic Agenda?

Because when you look at Washington, the one conclusion you walk away with is that it’s a place defined by all tactics, and no strategy.

Everything is about winning the next news cycle of the next election. What about winning the future for the country?

That’s what the National Strategic Agenda is all about.

There needs to be a new paradigm for decision-making in our government. One that begins with agreement on big goals and progresses to agreement on key fact and the principles and policies that will be part of the solution.

And that is what this agenda does.

How is the National Strategic Agenda different from other policy plans?

This is not just another policy plan.

In fact, at this point, the National Strategic Agenda isn’t a policy plan at all, because its details will be filled in over the next year – with input from people across America.

This agenda will be developed in a step-by-step fashion that solves problems by bringing together members of Congress; state and local leaders; and business, citizen and community leaders to discuss, debate, collaborate and try to solve America’s toughest challenges such as the jobs crisis, the budget, Social Security and Medicare and energy.

No one has ever tried anything like the National Strategic Agenda.

No one has tried to spend a year building a grassroots movement to get people from across the political spectrum to coalesce around a vision for where our country needs to go and how we get there.

Why is the National Strategic Agenda focused on shaping the debate for the next presidential election?
That seems a long way away.

To get this right, No Labels is spending the next year taking the pulse of leaders and citizens across America.

This will be a rigorous process that we expect to take a year. By the time the National Strategic Agenda is released next October, the presidential election will be heating up.

Is No Labels just about splitting the difference between conservatives and liberals?
Is it about speaking in civil language?

No. We’re not pushing compromise for its own sake, and we’re not naïve enough to think politicians being nicer to one another will suddenly make our government work. But failure to compromise and uncivil discussion are symptoms of a much bigger problem with our government.

Democrats and Republicans have organized themselves into warring clans that value defeating the other side over even the most basic acts of governing, like passing a budget on time or confirming competent people to staff our courts and the President’s Cabinet.

There is common ground between the parties, but they refuse to even try to find it.

How else to explain the fact that our political parties now routinely denounce ideas they supported just a few years ago; not because the ideas suddenly became bad, but because the other party embraced them too?

In most negotiations, when the other side embraces your idea, it is called agreement. In Washington, it is called selling-out, or even treason.

If No Labels can tone down the partisanship, we believe it will create space for our politicians to come together to develop pragmatic and workable solutions.

What is No Labels' position on the issues? What issues are you pushing?

Right now, we are organizing people across America to develop a National Strategic Agenda that can solve America’s toughest challenges such as the jobs crisis, the budget, Social Security and Medicare and energy.

No Labels has spent the last three years building the infrastructure for bringing Democrats and Republicans together for this kind of discussion, debate and consensus-building.

In the process, we have gained over 90 allies in the U.S. Congress and over half a million supporters across America.

So, No Labels has been laying the groundwork and creating infrastructure for the National Strategic Agenda for three years. We are ready to go.

What about other "social issues"? Is No Labels pro-choice or pro-life?

No Labels does not take positions on social issues like abortion and gun control.

Our job is to create an environment where crucial issues like these can be solved. We’re not staying away from social issues because we believe they're unimportant. But for decades, these issues have been used as ”wedge” issues to fan the flames of a never-ending culture war. We are not interested in fighting it.

No Labels is focused on making our institutions of government work again by changing the attitude in Washington and pushing toward a new politics of problem solving.

What about other reform efforts, like money in politics and gerrymandering?

No Labels is supportive of political reform generally. This year, we are focusing our energy and resources on efforts that will lessen the hyper-partisan gridlock that is gripping Congress and prevents them from addressing the nation’s problems in a meaningful way. We believe that such political reforms should meet the following criteria: 1) they must have across-the-aisle support, 2) they must be achievable, and 3) they must be able to be implemented quickly. You can find our 12-point reform agenda to achieve these goals at nolabels.org/work.

What is significant about across-the-aisle legislation?

Making a bill with across-the-aisle support certainly doesn't guarantee it will be a good bill. But solving any of the pressing challenges facing America – from tax and immigration reform to curbing our deficit – will require across-the-aisle support in Congress. With power so closely divided between the parties, our leaders have to find a way to work together. No Labels believes that if we can empower people to work across the aisle, then we stand a better chance of solving our nation's problems.

Who funds No Labels?

No Labels is funded by a fast-growing base of over 30,000 donors — some big, most small, but all with the same voice. No Labels complies with all of the financial reporting rules of 501 c(4) organizations. We do not publicly identify the names of our donors because it is not legally required and because it doesn’t advance our core mission.

With a relatively small budget of $4.5 million in 2014, No Labels has managed to recruit hundreds of thousands of Americans into our movement, build a growing coalition of Problem Solvers on Capitol Hill, and turn reform ideas like No Budget, No Pay into law.

Our leadership team consists of 25 co-founders, all of whom work for free. We also have a staff of 20 and a dedicated team of interns. We also rely on the incalculable support of people across America from all walks of life, who donate their time, advice, and enthusiasm.

We thank all our donors for their support and hope you will encourage others to invest in our cause. Your support enables us to build support for the politics of problem solving and most importantly to build a better country.