Or rather day two.
I knew instantly that I would have a difficult time summing up this gathering and doing a decent analysis. And given the amount of instant commentary on the event, it's even more difficult. But let me take a shot.
First my White House Project roomie & I knew which building to enter by the number of satellite news trucks parked outside of Columbia University's Lerner Hall. I believe the tone was set with David Brooks' question/statement of "How can you say you love this country and yet hate half of it?" I'd like to think he was talking to both sides of the political spectrum. As for me, I love this country and while I disagree vehemently with a good chunk of my fellow citizens, I'd be hard pressed to say I hate them. I hate how they want to limit the freedoms of those who don't follow their beliefs.
Congressman Bob Inglis threw out another theme for the day - the media. He mostly focused on what we would call news media. The hyper-partisanship of the day. At one point, I can't recall exactly when, an image of Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann was shown as if to say Exhibit A in this war of words. I believe this was also a theme at Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert's rally.
And No Labels seems to want to pick up, but in a serious and methodical way, where Jon & Stephen left off. They say they want to recapture reason and civility in political discourse. Now, what's not to love about that?
But as other commentators have pointed out, can you sustain a movement as civil discourse as your center?
No Labels likes to consider itself a grass roots movement, but I didn't see any grass stains at the launch. Rather I saw a lot of DC insiders who frankly aren't as inside anymore. They have been pushed out by Tea Partiers and perhaps MoveOn folks. Both those groups were the unofficial pinatas (another animal for their logo?). What they truly aim to do is energize that mushy middle of the political spectrum. The folks who aren't up in arms over "Don't Ask Don't Tell" in either direction. They are the folks who couldn't give a rat's ass if half the Navy was gay. They just want the Navy to do it's job. They aren't escorting women into health clinics because damn it, it's your choice, not mine. Thus they don't have a fire under their ass and sometimes vote, sometimes don't. It was made very clear that this mushy middle of citizens are clearly not voting in primaries, thus giving both Dems and the GOP radical candidates in general elections and then that turns off the middle ground again. Vicious cycle played over and over across the country.
And this is where I see their true power. Their strategy is to organize in every Congressional district and hold that Congressperson and related Senators to task. No more of this "Nothing passes until we get X" bullshit. No Labels folks want to see the Congress earn its paychecks, pass bills that stimulate our economy, fix our schools, settle immigration and get this country back on track. As I mentioned a few times in my live blog of the event, the moderates in this country want the radicals to back off. If No Labels can truly organize people to hold their elected officials accountable for their tantrums we could get some work done. But when is it a tantrum and when is it standing up for ones convictions?
I really wish that PunditMom, Jill Zimon and a few other of the Feminist Mama Crew had been invited. Luckily, Jill was able to tweet along with me most of the day. She brought some fab perspective to the events. At the local level, labels aren't helpful. The issues most local officials are dealing with are basic city services. As a councilwoman herself, Jill knows what she's talking about. But No Labels wants to focus on the federal level where the shit is hitting the fan every day. So back to issues.
Outside of getting rid of the Tea Party and MoveOn folks, I have no real idea of what solid outcomes No Labels wants to accomplish. The lack of women on the stage speaking was shameful. If women truly are the best people to find common ground, then that stage should have had far more women on it. Instead we got Joe Scarborough who lashed out at bloggers in their PJs eating Cheetos in their basement. Um, isn't that a label Joe? Is he really the face of a mature and civil DC? My friend Robin pointed out that it was also absurd to be listening to Mayor Bloomberg talk about fair redistricting and voters rights when he pushed the NY City Council to let him stay on for a third term. So he of the purple tie isn't quite the face No Labels should have either.
Yes, I'm tired of political tantrums, but there's also a place for Senator Bernie Sanders' filibuster. Quite honestly I got the sense that No Labels was shaming the far right more than the far left. I can't recall anyone on the left saying that they won't vote on anything at all until they get X. Because if anything, the past two years have been full of compromise that pulled legislation to the right.
I do hope that No Labels will be able to invigorate the middle part of this country, to get them to come out and vote in the primaries. If not, I fear for what we will be faced with in 2012, especially in terms of the Presidency.
I'm so happy that I went to the No Labels launch. I learned that my labels aren't so much labels and lines I draw in the sand, but rather the issues that I hold near and dear to my heart, that I will fight for until the day I die. My issues are about making this country a more fair and just place to live. I don't see how No Labels can help move forward a feminist agenda. From what I saw on Monday, No Labels has its heart in the right place and again, I truly hope they are able to engage people who haven't been voting in primaries or have been turned off by politics. We need everyone to vote, to have a voice. But for now, I'll use mine to advocate for this country to move forward on a road map full of labels.