The shrill sound of too much of what passes for current national political discussion is a wake-up call to all Americans that the harshness of our political rhetoric has reached potentially dangerous levels.
Here in Phoenix, we agree. It is time we ask some hard questions about the larger political forces that have contributed to this environment and what we can do to change the tone of our politics.
Too often, it seems as though each political election brings new promises of change, but the only thing that really changes is the volume, which keeps growing louder at the extremes.
The truth is, as reasonable, pragmatic citizens who care about solving problems more than scoring political points, we are in the majority. But too often, we are drowned out by the voices on the extreme fringes of American politics.
We can change that.
Republicans, Democrats and independents are coming together in the wake of this national cacophony to form a new group, both nationally and here, called No Labels. We are taking a stand for civility over shouting, and progress over partisanship. We pledge to play a constructive role in pressuring our elected officials and encouraging members of our community to reject the vitriol that has engulfed our political discourse.
No Labels believes the time is long overdue for an adult conversation about what we can do as citizens to tone down the rhetoric and meet the challenges we face together as a nation.
We believe that hyper-partisanship is paralyzing our democracy and harming our ability to self-govern. We believe our politics can change, so that government will work better and produce better results. The consequences of inaction have never been greater, because the issues we face have never been more serious, more complicated or more dangerous.
Now is the time to speak carefully as well as candidly. We know enough about the current environment to say that something is deeply wrong with our political discourse.
As we grieve for those who died and pray for the recovery of those who were injured in Tucson, we must use this moment of mourning to engage each other with more civility and respect and see each other not as opponents or enemies but as fellow Americans.
We can disagree on specific issues and still agree that we are all loyal Americans.
We invite members of the community to join us for this conversation. We don’t care if you are a Democrat, or a Republican, or an independent. We don’t care if you are usually nonpolitical and are simply moved by recent events to be part of the solution.
Please join us at No Labels for some civilized discussion about a better way forward. For as Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
We are at the beginning of this process, so you are welcome to get in on the ground floor. Please go to www.nolabels.org to join the movement or go to http://www.meetup.com/No-Labels-Arizona/for information about our group’s coming meetings.
— Bob Rosenberg is a public policy consultant and advocate in Phoenix.