*This post was written in response to the April 8th Wall Street Journal “You Won’t Believe the Names the Left is Calling ‘No Labels’”
Some people want to have no labels applied to themselves, others of us choose to be labeled.
I support certain candidates because I believe that certain policies will make our great nation the kind of nation where I want to live and to raise my family, and other policies do not. I have talked to many lawmakers and candidates about their views on progressive taxation, on the minimum wage, and on other issues. I don’t recall ever asking a candidate seeking my support about her or his approach to governing. I want a government that can do certain things (a lot of things) for its people. I am not looking for an approach to governing in the abstract.
When I look at the current federal budget it does not reflect my values. Does that mean there is nothing in it that I would support? No! Most of the money in the budget would be approved by an overwhelming majority from both parties if it was voted on line item by line item. There are some (No Labels) who would advise the approach of finding the common ground and reaching across the aisle and drafting some legislation that would get agreement from both parties, legislation that would not be Republican, would not be Democratic, but would have no label.
We could do that, sure. We would probably have a government that runs the military, and has the department of homeland security, and the TSA, and essentially nothing else (those things currently account for most of the federal government’s discretionary spending). I would expect that some people would be happy with that, but it would not reflect my values. My values are reflected by the things that have labeled me.
Our nation can accomplish great things only when people come together and act in concert, and coming together requires labels. Acting collectively does not mean we all agree on everything. I do not agree with every action that any of our political leaders on either my side or the other side have taken, and I don’t disagree with every action that any of our political leaders on either my side or the other side have taken. But getting anything done requires having a majority on my side, and that requires being part of a group, having a label.
- If supporting health care for all of our people means that I am an altruist, label me “altruist”.
- If supporting higher taxes for the rich means that I am a progressive, label me “progressive”.
- If supporting college education for all of our children means that I am a leftist, label me “leftist”.
- If supporting a limit to money in politics make me a reformist, label me “reformist”.
- If understanding that women having access to health care and the right to make making their own decisions about parenthood will allow them to be productive members of our society makes me a liberal, than label me “liberal”.
What the authors of the April 8th piece in the Wall Street Journal piece do not seem to agree with is that those of us who are sticking to our values – and who are fighting for those values – are not worried about being labeled for those values. That is because we actually believe in the things for which we are advocating. And when a label fits on the other side, we intend to use it as well.
Representative Dan Lipinski voted against the DREAM Act, and against the ACA. He voted for a 20 week abortion ban – and opposes abortion even in the case of rape and incest. He co-sponsored a law which would allow people to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. Representative Lipinski has made the labels he wears perfectly clear from his voting record. My values include wanting to live in a nation where residents who have grown up here can live without fear of being deported, where people have access to some health care and where women facing the most difficult decisions can make decisions with help from their doctors or clergy, not with unwanted intrusions from Representative. Lipinski and his colleagues in Washington. So, regardless of his approach to governing, I stand opposed to Representative Lipinski.
So no, No Labels, you can not have people work across the aisle without values – or else what are those people fighting for? When the lawmakers that I support work with anyone of the same party or of a different party, I expect them to bring the values of the many labels they wear to the table. After all, that’s what democracy is all about.