Meeting to Make America Work! Live Blog
2:00 p.m.: No Labels co-founders wrap up the event with a call to action: Get your leaders to be problem solvers! Act now: http://action.nolabels.org/8997/problem-solvers/
1:00 p.m.:Frank Sesno introduces the problem solving simulation — a panel of citizens and former and current elected officials, who will see if they can solve problems. Sesno explains a scenario to the Treasury Secretary of the simulation, David Walker, where there’s a national crisis — the financial situation of the U.S. has devolved, and we’ve become what we all fear: the next Greece.
The panel — which has citizen leaders playing local mayors, members of Congress, Secretary of the Treasury, Chief of Staff, and business leaders — gives the audience a chance to see problem solving in action. Sesno challenges the panel to consider the reaction of media, donors, other government agencies, and more in their decision-making process.
12:45 p.m.: President Bill Clinton voices his support for No Labels in a video address, saying, “We simply can’t afford the partisanship that’s slowing Congress. That’s why I’m grateful for the work No Labels is doing, to increase constructive dialogue and ensure that we can build a stronger America.”
Sen. McCain agrees — and in a video address, says, “I am confident we can [solve problems] if we come together not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans.”
12:30 p.m.: Lisa Borders introduces Broadway star Deborah Cox — a No Labels supporter. Cox sings the No Labels Anthem, written and produced by AKON. She speaks about her concern for her children’s future and support for No Labels.
11:40 a.m.: Gov. Jon Huntsman and Sen. Joe Manchin step up as leaders of No Labels! Both were governors in 2004, and came from similar backgrounds. Sen. Manchin says that as a governor, you have to solve problems and work together for your state, it isn’t about your party.
When Sen. Manchin was elected to Senate, he wanted to bring his experience as a governor to Washington. In order to fix our nation’s big problems, we need to work together. When you go home from this meeeting, Manchin says, you need to get your representatives involved. We can’t do it without you.
“Jon and I will give you everything we have” to make our government work again, Manchin says.
Gov. Huntsman says, “We are here because we believe our government ought to work — whether you’re a Republican or Democrat.” Although Manchin is a Democrat and Huntsman is a Republican, both can agree that we need to move our country forward. Together, they’ve worked to solve mining crises in their states and put their labels aside to get things done.
As a U.S. Ambassador to China, Huntsman lived thousands of miles away — and he could see that our country has the best universities, the best businesses, hard-working people, but the dysfunction of Congress is making our country dysfunctional. This is a problem. And it is our job to fix it.
“We need a network of grassroots organizers that takes the ethos of No Labels… putting the next generation before the next election,” says Huntsman. “Can you imagine…what it would look like to have 75 problem solvers in Congress?”
“This is about problem solving. The time is now. Let’s light the fire under Washington,” Huntsman says.
Gov. Huntsman and Sen. Manchin then took questions from the audience — Kiki asks: “How do you get other members of Congress to join the problem solvers?”
Manchin believes that his colleagues in Congress really want to solve problems and get things done. They want to work together to solve problems
Phyllis Davis Williams from Michigan asks, how does the grassroots make their voice heard? Huntsman says that in a democracy, we have to get involved. This needs a bottom-up approach. People really care about what is going to happen to our country, and everyone wants a better tomorrow.
After a college student asks how to get youth involved, both Sen. Manchin and Gov. Huntsman agree that students need to be civically-minded, because at the end of the day, we all want solutions. And No Labels provides the structure for youth to make a difference.
Kiki closes by thanking Gov. Huntsman and Sen. Manchin for their selfless service, and for getting involved with No Labels.
10:30 a.m.: Kiki McLean, No Labels Co-Founder, introduces the problem solvers in Congress — starting with a special message from Rep. Jack Kingston. Kingston tells a story of meeting Rep. Jim Moran — once his “arch enemy” — who he actually became friends with after they were brought together by No Labels. They even shared a car ride home that night.
Ten members of Congress join Kiki on stage: Rep. Schrader, Rep. Rigell, Rep. Ribble, Rep. Welch, Rep. Dent, Rep. Hahn, Rep. Himes, Rep. Cicilline, Rep. Grimm and Rep. Lipinski.
The representatives on stage call for everyone in the audience — and across the country — to get involved in building the problem solvers group in Congress. By calling on your representative to be a problem solver, you can make this group a powerhouse in Washington.
Every representative is wearing a No Labels Problem Solver pin — Kiki calls for the No Labels grassroots army to make sure we see many more pins by the State of the Union address.
Kiki opens up the panel to questions. Ron Tobias from New York asks how we can make sure both parties can agree on the facts. Rep. Schrader suggests having a nonpartisan staff for members of Congress, so that the leaders are not getting biased facts.
Citizen Mary Radich asks if the problem solvers are recruiting other members of Congress to join them? Rep. Dent pushes citizens to talk to their representatives about No Labels, because that’s who they will listen to. Rep. Hahn says that members of Congress are hungry for a group like No Labels to give them the opportunity to work together.
Kiki reads a question from Carl from Facebook, who asks what the incentive is to solve the fiscal dilemma? Rep. Rigell says it should be about charting a new path for our children and grandchildren. Rep. Dent says he wants to be able to deal with problems, before they become a crisis.
Emily, a student from Massachusetts, asks how to help promote problem solving? Rep. Welch talks about being energized from young people being involved in the political process.
The members of Congress all agree — we need No Labels to provide the space for lawmakers to work across the aisle.
9:50 a.m.: Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada joins the event virtually with a video message. This movement, he says, is bringing staunch conservatives and consistent liberals into the same room. It’s not about abandoning your principles, it’s about working together to solve problems despite differences.
Sen. Angus King from Maine is next to step on stage. He talks about what he’s seen
so far — on the campaign, and as a new senator. Everyone wants to solve problems, and so many people are willing to work across the aisle. But we need a mechanism to do so, like No Labels.
Compromise is a crucial part of problem solving. And compromise is born of respect and relationships. That’s why we need leaders to stay in Washington to work five days a week, so that they can get to know one another and develop relationship. Today, it’s all warfare all the time — instead of across-the-aisle problem solving.
King leaves the audience with a call to action — to get involved and make a difference.
9:35 a.m.: Andrew Tisch, No Labels Co-Founder, talks about meeting a young city councilman from Newark, who was the type of leader who wanted to solve problems. That man is Cory Booker. Mayor Booker embodies all the principles of leadership in the Make America Work! booklet. Tisch welcomes Booker to the stage.
Another standing ovation for Mayor Cory Booker! Booker tells a story of a vision of problem solving. “It is the bedrock of our nation…” bringing people together who are not the same, born of our diversity, Booker says. This country is not a zero-sum nation — we can all do better together.
He talks about the backlash he’s gotten for working across the aisle. But with No Labels, calling for solutions and providing support for lawmakers who are willing to work across the aisle, we can make a difference.
“If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together,” Booker urges. “No Labels calls upon us not to surrender to the cynicism of our politics.”
We may not be called to storm beaches on Normandy, but we are called to make our country a more perfect union. This is the mission of No Labels, says Booker.
9:15 a.m.: The No Labels Co-Founders take the stage to a standing ovation from the packed room. “This idea all got started with a feeling… a feeling that something was not right in our country,” says Nancy Jacobson. Mark McKinnon echoes that sentiment — the country wants problem solving, and No Labels is creating the space for that to happen.
No Labels has a three-part strategy to fix Washington:
1. Give a voice to the citizens who want problems solved.
2. Create a space for lawmakers to work together — the problem solvers group.
3. Enact simple reforms to make our government work more efficiently, like No Budget, No Pay and pushing for a five-day work week in Washington.
Washington needs a new attitude, Bill Galston explains. We’re helping make that happen.
Here’s an example of the power of No Labels, says Mark McKinnon. When Rep. Dan Lungren refused to act on No Budget, No Pay, he lost his election.
9:00 a.m.: Lisa Borders, No Labels co-founder from Atlanta, Georgia, opened the event by calling for our leaders to embrace the politics of problem solving. “We want our elected officials to work together — is that so difficult a task?” Borders asks.
Mary Anne and Abby Huntsman took the stage — they’re supporters of No Labels because they want their generation to have a better future. The duo sang “God Bless America” — catch the full performance on Livestream at www.nolabels.org/live.
8:15 a.m.: We're about to start the Meeting to Make America Work! — tune in to watch live at www.nolabels.org/live.
Up first: No Labels Co-Founder Lisa Borders, and the Huntsman girls singing "God Bless America."