December 27, 2011

The No Labels movement, which just celebrated its first anniversary, is interested in working within Congress to move toward the center

Terri Main, a self-described political moderate in San Luis Obispo, looks at the relentless sparring and lack of forward motion in Congress and asks herself, who is looking after my interests back there?

She knows she is not the only American asking that question. The United States, she believes, is made up of people in the middle.

“It’s the largest voice,” she said.

And yet Main believes that voice is not heard in the nation’s capital. The No Labels movement believes the two major political parties not only fight constantly, they do so in increasingly nasty ways, and dance to tunes played by extremist ideologues like Grover Norquist, who holds many congressional representatives in thrall. For Main, the time to lament about our decaying system of governance is over. It is now time, she says, to try and fix it, from the outside and in concordance with other Americans. To that end, Main has joined with others nationwide in a movement called “No Labels.”

A burgeoning group that just celebrated its first anniversary, No Labels wants to end what it calls “hyper-partisanship.”

Its favored direction, Main says, is “not left, not right — (it’s) forward.”

No Labels is working on an action plan, and hopes to have it in place in 2012 along with a million members to implement it.

It is not looking to nominate a presidential candidate, although it is watching another centrist group called Americans Elect that has qualified as a political party in California and elsewhere and could field a candidate this year. Backers of Americans Elect have floated such names as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer.

No Labels is more interested in working within Congress to nudge both Republicans and Democrats back to the center.

Main would like to see the day when No Labels can counterbalance someone like the unelected Norquist, who has such clout that he can threaten to defeat a sitting congressman in his next election if the representative does not follow orders. Norquist is known for signing up conservatives to his no-new-tax pledge and then making sure they live by it.
Main would like to see the day when No Labels can respond to that sort of arm-twisting by saying, hey, we’re here too, we’re centrists, there are a lot of us and you need to listen to us as well.

Although the example she cites is from the Republican Party — most notably its Tea Party wing — that’s only because it is where the most strident partisanship happens to be coming from at the moment.

Main, whose voter registration is “decline to state,” makes it very clear that she and others in the No Labels movement oppose control of government by any extreme, left or right.

She wants the government to move forward — “progress” is another word she uses often — and says it can’t do that with constant stalemate and government by fringe group. Main is looking for others to join the cause. While a lot of people just give up and succumb to apathy, she said, “We just have to try.”

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