Let’s Bring Some Clarity to What No Labels is About

On Sunday, June 19, The Telegraph published a column by Joe Konopka titled “No Labels vs. tea party movement? No contest.”

In his piece, Mr. Konopka contrasts No Labels with the tea party, saying: “[Given] the choice between a clear objective and a murky one, clarity takes the prize every time.”

There is something profoundly wrong about Mr. Konopka’s logic. If clarity always took the prize, the world would be an awfully simple place. Brevity, sometimes a godsend, can also result in inaccurate oversimplification.

And the fact is, the American story is not a simple one, and the challenges that we face are complex.

As George Washington once said: “I was no party man myself, and the first wish of my heart was, if parties did exist, to reconcile them.”

Two centuries later, the two-party system is a bedrock of our politics, but No Labels believes President Washington’s core message remains relevant. No Labels is a group of Americans from all facets of the political spectrum – Republicans, Democrats and independents – who believe in government for the whole, not for any particular party or interest group.

Mr. Konopka’s conspiracy theories surrounding our organization, while entertaining, are unfounded. No Labels has no hidden agenda. We are a national grassroots movement driven by our 100,000-plus members. No Labels is organizing in all 50 states and in every congressional district.

Mr. Konopka also critiques No Labels for encouraging compromise, writing: “Only candidates who abandon their principles qualify for No Labels’ support.”

This is not true; No Labels supports politicians whose principle is to choose their country over their party and progress over partisan gridlock. We support politicians from both the right and the left, as long as they are willing to reach across the aisle and work together on issues that will help move America forward in a fiscally responsible manner.

Indeed, the No Labels approach is anything but “kumbaya” politics. It is deeply practical and forward-looking. By fighting hyperpartisanship, we seek to create a common ground for lawmakers to finally resolve such pressing issues as our skyrocketing national debt, high unemployment, our dependency on foreign oil, a broken health care system and America’s overly complex tax system.

Recently, No Labels launched our “No Deal, No Break” campaign, asking members of Congress to forgo their recesses and stay in session until a deal was reached to solve the current debt crisis.

Americans are behind our message. In a No Labels-sponsored poll, eight out of 10 Americans agreed that Congress should stay in Washington until progress was made. Just four weeks into the campaign, our voices were heard.

The Senate is now back in Washington, and the debt ceiling discussions are ongoing. There is much more work to be done – the House is only scheduled to be in session for less than 10 days before Aug. 2. That’s unacceptable given the stakes involved.

With all respect to Mr. Konopka, he seems to have misunderstood what makes a movement great. A movement is not measured by the catchiness of its slogan, but its ability to achieve real results for the American people.

By that measure, No Labels’ message and approach is right – both for our present politics and the long-term health of our democracy.

Dave Walker is a founding leader of No Labels and founder of the Comeback America Initiative. He served as comptroller general of the United States from 1998-2008.

Read more at: http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/opinionperspectives/925544-263/lets-bring-some-clarity-to-what-no.html

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