This week, No Labels, the Boston College chapter of a national organization dedicated to creating change in the American government, co-sponsored Rock the Vote week. No Labels was seen on campus publicizing their group, informing students about the organization, and handing out free pins, stickers, and t-shirts as a part of the Rock the Vote campaign.
The BC No Labels chapter was established as a recognized club on campus this October. The group is a part of the national No Labels political organization comprised of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents whose stated mission is to address the politics of problem solving in the United States government. Cole Rabinowitz, president of the BC No Labels chapter and A&S ’14, created the club his freshman year.
“No Labels is a movement of Americans,” Rabinowitz said. “It’s a movement of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who stand for change. They’re against the hyper-polarization and hyper-partisanship in Congress. They want to fix the system that they see as broken.”
No Labels was launched as a national organization in December 2010. The group was co-founded by 37 men and women, including John Avlon, a senior columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast; Lisa Borders, former president of the Atlantic City Council of Atlanta, Georgia; and Robert. S. Kaplan, a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School and co-chairman of Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation.
No Labels was founded and is now run by both Democrats and Republicans. Since its launch, the organization has gained over 500,000 backers.
Its first grassroots campaign, known as “Make Congress Work,” was released Dec. 13, 2011. The campaign is comprised of a 12-point plan that aims to break congressional gridlock by implementing reforms to the legislative process. The plan includes automatic pay docking for Congress if the federal budget is not passed on time, an up-or-down vote on all presidential appointments within 90 days of their nomination, and anonymous discharge petitions.
“A lot of the reforms are common sense things,” Rabinowitz said. “It’s paying people to do their job. It’s the correct incentive for congressmen to avoid future debt crises.”
Rabinowitz first heard about the national organization during the first semester of his freshman year.
“I saw a flyer and called the national organization,” Rabinowitz said. “One of the big backers is the CEO of Panera Bread. He came to Harvard, and about 15 of my friends and I heard him talk. It was a great speech about the state of affairs in D.C. After we saw him talk, the plan pretty much launched from there.”
In February 2011, Rabinowitz registered No Labels under the BC Student Clubs and Organizations, and the group now has 30 active members and over 100 students on their listserv. It is one of three chapters in the nation, along with Tufts and Florida State.
“This has been our first semester being active on campus,” Rabinowitz said. “We have really been working to expand our membership on campus. Our goal is getting people educated about No Labels. A lot of [BC students] are frustrated. There are a lot of moderates on this campus, and they identify with No Labels. We want to pass reforms in Congress and support the national movement through letter writing campaigns and calling on people to take action.”
As one of the first chapters in the nation, Boston College No Labels has received funding from the national organization to publicize and educate students about the group. By next year, Rabinowitz plans to bring No Labels speakers to campus.
“What’s great about [No Labels] being a national organization is it has affiliations with a lot of representative officials,” Rabinowitz said. “… Next year we plan on putting on a lot of events.”
With only two years since its official launch, No Labels continues to gain publicity across the country. Rabinowitz and the No Labels BC chapter hope to continue educating BC students about the newly formed organization.
“Rock the Vote isn’t a third-party movement,” Rabinowitz said. “It’s about Republicans, Democrats,and Independents cooperating with each other. Democrats can keep their democratic ideals, Republicans can keep their republican ideals, and Independents can stay independent, but it’s about being receptive to compromise and not shutting out other’s ideas just because they’re from the other side of the aisle. What’s important is getting things done. And most people would really agree with that, but it’s amazing that’s not what’s happening in Congress right now. We need to change that.”