When George Pataki announced that he’d make a run for president, he surprised a lot of people. Without a strong base, without firm support from Republicans, many dubbed his run a “long shot.” But his message of bipartisanship is a winner.
Pataki’s four-minute campaign announcement video touched on his experience and his background, but mostly on his insistence that partisanship has no business in his politics. This message distinguishes Pataki from the other candidates in play by making a bipartisan approach to politics central to his campaign, but it’s a message that all candidates — and voters — should heed.
Pataki insists that D.C. is broken, and a simple survey of Congress tells us he’s right. We’ve seen a government shut down in 2014 due to partisan politics, and a favoring of filibusters over collaboration. Rhetoric has been ratcheted up and teamwork has broken down. And a recent Gallup poll shows that Americans give the 114th Congress an approval rating of just 16 percent.
Things need to change.
And it seems Pataki, though the most vocal, isn’t the only candidate who has recognized the need for this change. We’ve heard candidates make allusions to their willingness to work with the opposition should they be elected — though none as vocal as Pataki thus far. The idea of bipartisanship is creeping slowly into campaign promises. And this is what we at No Labels want to see more of — more candidates who are unafraid to commit to a different kind of politics. No Labels is committed to fixing the broken politics of Washington by encouraging our politicians to work together, to put the needs of the nation above the needs of the party. We believe a message like Pataki’s is a good place to start.
There has been an obvious drought of bipartisanship in Congress in the last several years, but we are just beginning to see signs of progress. Our senators and representatives, when making those steps toward teamwork, rebuild trust across the aisle and prove the efficacy of their labor. When Republicans and Democrats put aside their political differences, the good of the nation becomes a top priority. We need a president who will foster that collaborative environment.
We need more of this message, and less of the status quo.
The status quo has proven itself ineffective and has left Americans face to face with some serious issues. Our next president must be ready to work side by side with conservatives, liberals and independents if we want to address these top concerns because, as time has proven, no party has been able to resolve these alone.
It is our belief that through a bipartisan approach, our next president can cultivate a collaborative environment in Congress and build a framework to address the four issues that Americans have identified as the most problematic. We’ve created a National Strategic Agenda aimed at addressing these issues, which encourages Congress to work together to create 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years, secure Social Security and Medicare for another 75 years, balance the federal budget by 2030 and make America energy secure by 2024.
These are massive undertakings, but the solution lies in a bipartisan approach from both the next president and Congress.
We applaud Pataki’s bipartisan platform, and any other candidates who echo these sentiments. But we need to go beyond campaign promises and sound bytes — we need to dig deeper into those one-liners and question how these candidates believe they will get there. The answers could catapult a long-shot candidate into a winning bid, or move a sure-thing candidate to the back burner. Americans have the power to determine who best represents our interests and goals, and we will continue to press our candidates for answers. We require more than promises — we expect a framework for actualizing bipartisan goals.
We won’t stop until we get one.
Jon M. Huntsman Jr. is a former Republican governor of Utah. Joe Lieberman is a former Democratic U.S. senator from Connecticut.