Our Politics Should Be as Good as Our People

Our Politics Should Be as Good as Our People

Blog Post

By No Labels

Bad news is not hard to come by in Washington. Just turn on the TV or open a browser and an endless stream of stalled initiatives, harsh rhetoric and impasse awaits.

But move the camera outside the halls of government and the picture changes dramatically. Americans are cooperative folks. Whether it’s a group of volunteers running a sobriety house in Costa Mesa, California, or a group of mechanics fixing cars for single mothers at no charge in Conroe, Texas, Americans find ways to help each other and get things done.

Indeed, the numbers show that as our politics are falling apart, the American people are stepping up. For example:

  • One in four Americans takes time to volunteer, with the median person spending 52 hours helping others, according to 2015 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s more than one full work week — and the numbers are even higher among older Americans.
  • Individual people accounted for more than 70 percent of the $390 billion given to U.S. charities last year, according to a report by Giving USA. That means people gave twice as much as corporations, foundations and bequests combined. By some counts, Americans give more than any other country.

Is it too much to ask that American politics function more like American people? We say no.

To underline the point, No Labels will spend the next few weeks highlighting ways that everyday Americans help each other out and get things done. It’s not hard to find examples.

Perhaps our favorite is God’s Garage, a non-profit garage in Texas that fixes cars at no charge for single mothers, widows and military wives, many of whom need a functioning car to get kids to school and adults to work. “We are a group of people who want to help others,” the organization’s website declares. “God’s Garage was born out of the needs we saw around us.”

God’s Garage charges nothing for labor and tries to obtain free parts for customers. They also collect donated cars, fix them and give them away. They have helped hundreds of people.

Another great example is Charlie Street, a non-profit in Southern California that allows people having trouble with substance abuse to move into a house and live sober for 10 days. Beginning with a small, old house in 1952, the organization has existed for 60 years on the cooperation of volunteers and private donors. Today, the facility has been remodeled and can house 21 people. Thousands have been helped by Charlie Street.

What these organizations have in common is that they function cooperatively to get things done for people, and there are many more examples out there. We’ll be highlighting some in the coming weeks. As founder of God’s Garage, Chris Williams, wrote, “If you’ve ever wondered if you could make a real and tangible difference in the lives of people around you, you can.”

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