From the Hill to the Mountains: A weekly column by U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
January 16, 2013
Washington is broken. But I truly believe it’s still possible to repair it. That is the reason why I have agreed to help lead a national organization that is trying to fix it – trying to change attitudes in Washington so we can jumpstart Congress and get it working again. The organization is No Labels, and its strength comes not only from its growing number of members but also from the power of its basic idea – putting solutions ahead of party politics.
I am co-chairing No Labels along with former Governor Jon Huntsman, a Utah Republican. It is a great honor to be asked to work with Jon to help No Labels become a catalyst for the big changes we need in Washington. Jon and I come from different parties, but we come from the same background of having served as governors. And when you are governor, you don’t worry about party politics – you worry about your state and its people and providing them the best and most efficient service possible.
In West Virginia, whenever we have a problem, we set aside our political differences and figure out commonsense solutions together. In Utah, Jon took the same approach, earning a well-deserved reputation as a problem solver. And that is precisely the attitude we need more of in Washington these days. If anybody had any doubt about that, the ridiculous and embarrassing situation involving the fiscal cliff should underscore how dysfunctional and hyper-partisan Washington has become.
On the heels of the fiscal cliff deal that postponed action on many critical issues, particularly automatic spending cuts and the debt ceiling, it will be essential to have Democrats and Republicans willing to search for common ground in the months ahead. At this moment in our history, working to bridge the partisan divide is both the principled and patriotic thing to do.
We need to fix our politics from the inside, but we need help from the outside to do it. No Labels is the only organization out there that can bring people together to demand that both parties put the country’s needs ahead of politics. The goal of most organizations in Washington is to divide and conquer. No Labels can set a whole new standard of what’s expected from our national leaders. But we need West Virginians and citizens of every state to help us by joining the tens of thousands of Americans – Republicans, Democrats and independents – who have joined the No Labels ranks to demand better than we’re getting now.
No Labels doesn’t ask anybody to check their political affiliation at the door. But it does ask that our leaders talk with each other, not past each other, and that they explore solutions to our country’s challenges, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans.
John F. Kennedy once remarked that sometimes a political party “asks too much.” We see the result of that – a political system so polarized that it is almost incapable of placing the country’s interests ahead of the raw pursuit of political advantage. We need to repair that system so that once again our leaders place solutions over victories. And No Labels will help us do just that. The future of our country is at stake.