Just the Facts

No Labels to the Critics: Cut the Venom

By No Labels
April 9, 2018 | Blog

When Rep. Dan Lipinski won his hard-fought Democratic primary in Illinois against a far-left challenger, there were cheers here at No Labels. Lipinski is a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus and a champion for bipartisan action. We worked hard to help his campaign.


Yet the reaction to his victory from many leaders on the left was both unkind and unprofessional. The president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Ilyse Hogue, accused us of supporting “bigotry.” When we tweeted that the race was a victory for the political center, former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean described our ideas as “foolish nonsense.” Former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau called our characterization of the race, “a [expletive] embarrassment.”


In an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, Margaret Kimbrell White, a senior advisor at No Labels, and Sasha Borowsky, the chief of staff, shot back. “Is asking that our view also be respected too much to ask?” they wrote. “When Mr. Lipinski won, did liberals really need to vent their anger on Twitter by calling No Labels foolish, embarrassing bigots? Belittling our group won’t convince anyone.”


‘A bigger problem in Washington’


Dan Lipinski won, despite having conservative views on social issues like abortion rights. The liberal candidate came up short, despite massive backing from the Democratic establishment (including several Democratic members of Congress) and a constellation of left-wing advocacy groups. Washington’s left wing decided to vent its anger on No Labels.


But as White and Borowsky, who actually disagree with Lipinski on abortion rights, explained, “We think there’s a bigger problem in Washington than whether Mr. Lipinski passes any given group’s political litmus test. Legislators in both parties have to worry too much about primary challenges from ideologues on the far left or far right. That’s why Democrats and Republicans are so unwilling to work across the aisle. And that in turn is why Congress is failing to address the biggest problems facing America.”


By way of example, Lipinski helped work out a deal with fellow Republicans and Democrats in the Problem Solver Caucus to provide vital repairs to the individual health care marketplace. That served as the basis of the bipartisan proposal put forward by Senate HELP committee leaders Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray—the only bipartisan health care proposal made in this Congress. “Dan Lipinski was one of the few in Congress determined to do something realistic to fix the problem,” White and Borowsky wrote, adding later that his election, “Improves the chances that Congress may actually get something done for the American people.”


“Many voters, like us, see the value in reaching across the aisle—and we aren’t going to be silenced, as the Illinois primary last month illustrates,” they wrote. “Call us names, roll your eyes, encourage others to write us off. But understand this: We mean to fight back.”

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