Both of These Things (Are Not Like the Others) – Part 2

To recap last week, I kicked off my analysis of the two most recent organizations to form under a non-partisan flag; No Labels and The Centrist Project.  In the first installment, I tried to give you a feel for the shared vision that brings them together and the wholly independent strategies they’re taking to achieve it.  This week, I’ll be breaking apart each organization’s agenda, outlining their most critical ideas for political reform, and grouping like items to arrive at a comprehensive, and definitively non-partisan, reform agenda.

Before I get started, I have to make it clear that as each group has their own area of focus and arena for enacting change, so to do they each have an individualized format for their respective agendas.  As those who heeded my initial call to check these groups out for themselves would know, (Critical Thinking Meets Your Inner Cent), The Centrist Project has more of a big-idea, broad-strokes feel to their agenda while the No Labels agenda engenders the sense of calculated, technocratic precision.  That being said, the Centrist Project outlines a list of six ‘tenets’ that every Centrist and/or non-partisan should identify with on some level.  In stark contrast, No Labels churned out an impressive number, (32 to be exact), of highly focused recommendations for reform.  My goal for this week being what it was, to  I had my work cut out for me.  That’s to say that not all of the items these groups support are listed here, so make sure to check out each group on your own.  Now, without any further adieu…
The biggest thing that struck me reading through each of their agendas is that they made a real effort to try and put the building of a Centrist/non-partisan ideal at the forefront and not just stop at trying to eliminate partisanship.
Take, for example, the two leading principles for the Centrist Project; ‘Good Governance’ and ‘Solving Problems’.  ‘Good Governance’ is, as they prescribe,
…putting the nation’s long-term interests ahead of the electoral interests of a political party or any narrow interest group.
All the while, they characterize ‘Solving Problems’ as,

…[setting] aside ideological purity if it enables [us] to achieve things that are broadly consistent with [our] views.

No Labels complements these tenets with their own agenda, and much in the same proportion.  Almost a third of the No Labels reforms, (nine to be specific), could seemingly use the phrase, ‘solving problems through good governance,’ as a caption.  Such reforms are –
  • ‘No Budget, No Pay’
  • ‘Empower the Sensible Majority’
  • ‘No Pledge but the Oath of Office’
  • ‘Make Members Come to Work’
  • ‘Bipartisan Leadership Committee’
  • ‘Fix the Filibuster’
  • ‘Monthly Bipartisan Gatherings’
  • ‘Regular Meetings Between Congressional Leaders and the Executive’
  • ‘Different Opinions, But the Same Facts’
All of these, when further explained, deal with either reducing and/or eliminating the influence of partisanship, or supporting and/or establishing bipartisan avenues for compromise.
Next, we’ll move on to two more Centrist Project tenets; ‘Fiscal Responsibility’ and ‘Environmental Responsibility.’
‘Fiscal Responsibility,’ as The Centrist Project conceptualizes it, is a,
…[commitment] to putting the nation on a sound fiscal path; [recognition] that this will require a combination of revenue increases, spending cuts and reforms to our major entitlement programs.
With that, this is a particularly critical item that serves as the truest test to grass-roots populism.  This one could prove too bitter a pill to swallow for those that can only see what they stand to lose instead of recognizing what we’d all have to gain.  But, we all have to swallow it in our own way in order for our government, and likewise our nation and it’s people, to become financially solvent again.
For us as the general public, that means coming to terms with the inherent unfairness of paying in to something and then realizing that a benefit we would have received or may have supported may have to be reduced or eliminated.  As No Labels would have it –
  • ‘Plan for Efficient and Effective Government’
  • ‘Expanded Presidential Power to Reorganize’
For our politicians and bureaucrats, this means setting the example and shaving their staff and scaling back their pay while at the same time doing their best to educate us on the benefit of this ‘medicine,’ however distasteful.  The way that No Labels puts it –
  • ‘Don’t Duplicate, Consolidate’
  • ‘Buy Smarter and Save’
  • ‘No Adding, No Padding’

But, making it harder still is the way in which The Centrist Project frames the tenet of ‘Environmental Responsibility.’

…[Acting] as a steward of the environment for future generations.  [Believing] that climate change represents a potential threat to the United States and the international community. [Supporting] international efforts to curtail carbon emissions, including policies that raise the cost of polluting behavior.
It’s as if, when our politicians have finished swallowing their pill, the doctor, (The Centrist Project in this case), comes along and says; ‘Great job swallowing that pill!  Sorry, but we’re all out of lollipops to reward you for being such grown-ups.  Now hold still, we have to give you a shot so that you don’t make any others sick and others can’t infect you, either.’  As appealing as that analogy sounds, I can’t imagine anyone other than the most self-sacrificing of Centrists tolerating that reality.  But, it’s one we’re all likely to suffer unless they do something about it.  Here’s what No Labels puts forward –
  • ‘Stay in Place, Cut the Waste’
  • ‘Wasted Energy, Wasted Dollars’
Thankfully, No Labels’ list of corresponding items provides a reasonably sound set of compromises for these tenets to work through.  They also include a solution that harkens back to one I mentioned before, [see ‘Different Opinions, But the Same Facts’], straightforwardly named, ‘Fiscal Report to Congress: Hear it. Read it. Sign it.’  As well as one that’s reminiscent of No Labels laser-like focus, ‘A Line Item Veto With A Twist.’
These nine items comprise another 28 percent of the No Labels agenda.  Sum total, between the four tenets and the 18 recommendations, we’ve covered over half of each entity’s agenda!  (Good on us, right?!?)
In my opinion, these are the highest goals that you and I can wish to achieve as non-partisans and Centrists.  I hope what I’ve outlined will convince you to challenge yourself, to grow politically, and to adopt a broader, more inclusive political ideology and a comprehensively unified political ethos.  If nothing else, I pray that I’ve shown what’s waiting for the nation when it escapes this mired pit of partisanship we’ve found ourselves trapped in.
Anyway, catch the ‘One Cent to Another’ Facebook page throughout the week for small snippets of sensible, Centrist-minded, non-partisan things that make me go, ‘Hmmm.’
Thanks for reading!
J. Vickrey

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