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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Last week, at a meeting in New York, it was announced that a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers have agreed to get together once in a while and chat. This made news nationwide.

Does that not tell you all you need to know about the sorry state of American politics? Does that not paint the starkest possible picture of the frozen government and Balkanized parties that have left our nation lurching from crisis to crisis like a drunk on a heaving deck? Lord help us, it is newsworthy when Republicans and Democrats agree to talk.

This announcement of the political equivalent of a foreign exchange program was made under the aegis of a fledgling public interest group, No Labels, which has set as its task nothing less than the fixing of America’s broken government.

The group would want you to know that its name does not mean members are expected to surrender their ideology or party affiliation at the door. Indeed, No Labels members represent both parties and all points of the ideological spectrum. They would also want you to know their mission is not simply to restore civility to public discourse.

No, No Labels seeks to return to a day when labels did not prevent lawmakers from addressing the nation’s problems. “Stop fighting, start fixing!” goes the group’s slogan.

Founded two years ago and having gained little traction since, No Labels used last week’s event to hit the proverbial reset button. The group purposely does not get into the weeds of public policy or social issues, but it does have goals more ambitious than just encouraging regular get-togethers.

Its wish list includes a provision that Congress doesn’t get paid if it fails to pass a budget on time; another that bans lawmakers from taking any pledge but the Pledge of Allegiance and their oath of office; still another that requires a fast up or down vote on presidential appointments. No Labels would also like to see lawmakers receive an annual, nonpartisan briefing on the fiscal state of the union, the idea being that they would no longer be able to cherrypick “facts” from partisan groups to support their budget arguments.

Yes, this all smacks unbearably of Kumbaya and earnestness to many of those professional cynics who watch politics for a living. Maybe they are right. There is something admittedly quixotic in the whole thing. But has anyone floated a better idea? The alternative is to remain what we are: a tire spinning in snow, making a lot of noise, digging in deeper and going nowhere.

We are in this fix because there is too much money in our politics, because the media echo chamber has grown too loud, because our election system has been rigged such that it discourages compromise. We are also here because the GOP has been taken over by inflexible extremists who call themselves (but often are not) conservatives.

Understand: our politics are not simply polarized, they are poisonous. Left has seceded from right, fact has seceded from media, compromise has seceded from negotiation, pragmatism has seceded from legislation. We play a zero-sum game where party trumps country, reason is treason and there is an evident belief that he who yells the stupidest thing in the loudest voice, wins.

This state of affairs exists because voters have allowed it to exist, because they reward it with big ratings on television and big numbers at the polls. But there is a price tag for this. Our government is a train wreck.

No, that’s the wrong word. Train wrecks, after all, move. Our government is a glacier — frozen and inert beyond anything in recent memory. Any idea that holds out even a quixotic promise to get it moving again is worthy of support and applause.

You can offer either or both at

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via email at

(c) 2013 The Miami Herald Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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15 responses to “No Labels, No Excuses”

  1. old_blu says:

    This is horrible that the two parties have to have a special meeting to talk to each other, but it might just be a step in the right direction, although I don’t think it will make the Republicans see what is going on. And after so long of not being able to talk to each other the Democrats are going to be just as bad. (i blame the Republicans because of their obstructionism)

    • BDC_57 says:

      You are right but until we get the teabsggers out it not going to happen.

      • old_blu says:

        You my friend are absolutely right. I really don’t blame the Republican party so much as I do the tea party they have infiltrated the Republican party and now the Republicans are afraid to do what is right.

        • BDC_57 says:

          Yes my friend I hope in 2014 they voted out.

        • sunmusing says:

          If you look deep enough at the “tea party” you will find that they are nothing more than a front for the rich and corrupt corporations…as the light of justice gets brighter and focused on them, the truth will become apparent…

          • old_blu says:

            Exactly they are coming apart at the seams, and I hope they continue to do so.

            Is that a Pit in your avatar and is it yours.

          • sunmusing says:

            Yes sir…that’s my Noodles…one of the best friends I have ever had…strong, loyal, and really gentile and forgiving…he was raised with a tea cup Chihuahua, and my grandson…

          • old_blu says:

            Sweet, I love them there’s not a more loyal dog that wants to please you more than a pit, it’s too bad the wrong element trains to please them too. My last one died 2 years ago I’m still a little heartbroken so I haven’t got another yet. (cool name)

            Sorry everyone for being off topic. (but it is about dogs)

          • sunmusing says:

            Sorry about your loss…this guy came to me several years after I swore off having anymore dogs or pets…especially after losing a 17 yr friend…

  2. jstsyn says:

    How many Americans are proud anymore?

    • sunmusing says:

      There IS President Obama…

    • Jim Myers says:

      Replying to jstsyn –

      While on vacation in Italy during the rein of George the Second, there were several times when locals would single us out because we are Americans.

      On those occasions, on of the things that struck me was the common message we heard.

      NO BUSH!!!

  3. sunmusing says:

    All the talk of train wrecks and antagonism is nothing more than political smoke and diversion…The country knows who screwed up…and the not so bright wingers even know this…but they like it that way…they are the willing puppets of the plutocracy…just give ’em more gunz and they will take back the country…

  4. onedonewong says:

    And yet we have a president who prides himself on insuring class warfare as well as black VS white

  5. bchrista says:

    To my friend old_blu I lost two Schanzers a male that I raised from a six week old pup and a female the was half grown and I loved them like people love their children because in a way they were my children but Schanzers are known for being nosey and always trying to see whats on the other side of the fence and sooner or later they find a way out and mine did and got run over by a car I don’t mind saying I shed a tear or two for them they were my kids, my real children grew up and moved on, however, right after that a friend told me that the best way to get over it was to get another dog and I did a Roti and although I still think about my Schanzers I have moved on and have gotten attached to my Roti. She weighs a little over 100 lbs and everytime I look at her I amazed because I bought her when I was still working for $500.00 and I don’t regret it (she was six weeks old when I got her) and I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world.

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