Maybe it’s the January doldrums, the one-month anniversary of Sandy Hook, a precarious save from the fiscal cliff or continuous legislative backbiting at every level of government.
Whatever the reason, we were glad to see a resurgence of the No Labels group in Washington, D.C., and heartened to see that two Illinois congressmen — Republican Adam Kinzinger, who represents the 16th Congressional District that includes parts of Central Illinois, and Dan Lipinski, a Democrat from the 3rd Congressional District — joining a re-energized group that wants to get government working in the same reality the rest of us inhabit.
No Labels formed in 2010 with what some thought was a wet-behind-the-ears approach, a charming naivete that belied any understanding of how government really works. Simply put, the group encouraged all comers, regardless of party, beliefs, age or gender, to work together to get things done.
The group did attract a number of supporters, including congressmen. But a recent resurgence and focus on a common goal, particularly after a bitter presidential campaign and the fiscal cliff crisis (which is far from over), has suddenly attracted a wave of new members.
According to The Washington Post, the group has several proposals for building more cooperation among lawmakers: deny paying congressmen until a budget is passed; an “up or down” vote on presidential appointments; filibuster reform; regular fiscal reports; monthly bipartisan meetings; bipartisan seating; and a British-style “question time” for the president.
Mainstream media like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as well as Politico, Huffington Post and National Journal, were interested but wary. We’ve heard the same song before, they seemed to say, but we’ll give you a chance for success with a different arrangement.
A couple wondered whether true nonpartisanship could be expected when No Labels’ ranks include some often vitriolic members of Congress. They also wanted to know where No Labels’ $2 million budget comes from, and whether leaders pledge to share that information.
We understand the hesitancy. But the current system has fallen into such disrepair, the only path toward restoration is for lawmakers to set aside party differences and name-calling and get to work.
This, at least, is a start.
This editorial appeared in The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill., on Thursday, Jan. 17.
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