I spent some time in the past two days at the No Labels Conference in New York City. I thought I’d take a look and hear what this group has to say since one of its leaders is Mark McKinnon who I worked with at the White House. Mostly, Mark and I worked on entertainment projects which was perfect for Mark who is a Democrat and who is very likeable and creative.
I came away from the meeting very impressed.
No Labels is an organization of “Democrats, Republicans, and everything in between” with a goal of problem solving. Their mantra is “Stop Fighting—Start Fixing.”
What impressed me the most at the No Labels event was how much energy there was in the room. With a crowd of about 1500 people, everyone in attendance stayed glued to their seats and very much engaged through the entire event. Sadly, this stands in stark contrast to many RNC meetings I’ve attended where I felt we were all just sort of going through the motions.
The No Labels Conference was extremely well organized and even adaptable. As the crowd grew, the event seamlessly expanded to accommodate the growing crowd instead of turning people away. It was also great to see such a diverse group with lots of young people in attendance.
Just the size of the event and the high energy level there was inspiring. Recently, with all the bickering and backstabbing between the two political parties, it’s easy to see how average citizens might just choose to throw up their hands and give up on the whole mess. This group convinced me that with a great message and organization, positive change can happen. Clearly, lots of our fellow citizens are yearning to see elected officials in DC get out of their funk and find a way to be problem solvers.
I especially liked how this event was really a boot camp for problem solvers. They did a lot of role playing and gave nuts and bolts instruction on how to get things done. As citizens, maybe we should demand that all our elected officials attend a No Labels boot camp themselves.
I’m still not giving up on the Republican Party. I just think they have a lot to learn to be relevant going forward. Unfortunately, I think too many Republicans spend too much time with each other and not enough time listening to what other people in the country are thinking. I believe this sort of “group think” is what’s wrong with the GOP.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think we need to abandon everything we stand for. If we did, we’d be well. . .Democrats, I guess. Clearly, we have a fundamentally different view of the role government should play in people’s lives. But I do think to make that message relevant and effective, we need to be more open to new ideas and adopt the ones that are consistent with our basic message.
I’m afraid if we don’t do this, we’ll become the modern day version of the Whig Party. Remember them? Unless you’re a History major, you probably never heard of them, and that’s the point. The Whigs died out and were replaced by the Republicans.
The No Labels Conference was appealing because it was welcoming, informative, and fun. Leaders of the GOP would do well to adopt this format for themselves.
Check out No Labels on their website at www.nolabels.org/.