The Woodstock of Democracy

Monday, December 20, 2010 - 01:08 PM

Reshma Saujani

I attended the No Labels conference this week, whose slogan is “not left, not right, forward.”

As someone who cares deeply about our representative democracy, I went to the conference because I believe that our current political system is frayed by the worst partisan politics we have seen in generations. We have a government that simply does not function. Elected officials like Joe Wilson (“You Lie”) are rewarded for incivility who won his re election bid by a 10% margin. They are rewarded by the media for petty maneuvers that have no long-term benefits but short-term gains of winning the message of the day.

They are punished for talking straight to the interest groups that tie their hands. As we have seen the past few weeks through the lens of the tax debate, bipartisanship has now become a dirty word on the right and the left.

I for one am tired of the generational grudge match.  I am searching for a movement that will promote civility in politics and reward elected officials who speak to one another instead of at each other.  I want to be a part of a movement that will change the existing norms of our political process and put love of country over love of party.

Now people might say well that sounds hokey. And No Labels has unfortunately suffered some of the same skepticism and even vitriol that movements and leaders receive for simply trying to keep the conversation going. That’s wrong.

No Labels is about creating a substantive dialogue to solve problems. It is not a front for Mayor Bloomberg to launch a bid for 2012. It is not a third party. It is an attitude.

An attitude that we desperately need right now.

We need a resurgence of patriotism right now, where our love of country is so strong, so deep, that it helps us overcome our differences.

In President Obama’s word “there is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America -- there’s the United States of America.”

No Labels is that patriotic movement. 


More in:

Comments [3]

Steve from Brooklyn

This soapbox appeal would go down easier if Reshma could identify one solid example where she differs from Democrat orthodoxy.

Not some vague assertion against waste or corruption- but some absolute statement: I'm pro-life, Bush was right on taxes, Gillebrand is a cypher, I support the war in Iraq, cutting Social Security benefits is necessary to restore solvency, etc.

I think I'm pretty open-minded (I believe two of the five above). But it is hard to take this sort of talk from someone who would score very, very high on the national Journals ranking of Congress members.

Jan. 04 2011 02:08 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

Well said, especially the part about needing a patriotism that helps us overcome our differences.

Agree with the sentiment of what Charles says below, but think we need to dispel this junk idea that there is a fence in the first place. There is a whole spectrum between the standard liberal and conservative viewpoints. There is no fence.

Dec. 21 2010 12:43 PM

Unfortunately, in today's political climate, there is no room for "inconsistent views". Cookie cutter political views are the dominant force. This reality is ensured by the media. Third parties have been gaining momentum in the past two decades, but still face an uphill battle. We need people to run for office who are not afraid to hold opinions on both sides of the fence without being a "moderate".

Dec. 21 2010 03:50 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About It's A Free Blog

Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a blog, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Supported by

WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public.  Learn more at



Supported by