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No Labels: A Day With Ms. Nancy Jacobson at The City Club

On Friday, March 18th, our only event took us to the City Club where we heard a talk by Ms. Nancy Jacobson, founder and CEO of "No Labels" which works to end non-productive hyper-partisan bickering and to urge our governmental leaders to work together to address our nation's problems.

IMG_9197 Ms. Jacobson described herself as a "volunteer" on this project. Even though she, herself, is a democrat who has worked with many liberal politicians, most notably former President Bill Clinton, she believes that it is time for all to work together to "identify key goals in the nation's common interest, commit to achieving a manageable number of these goals, and to negotiate on policy that will deliver on goals."

The four "big" goals that "No Labels" believes should be focused on are establishing policies that will "create 25 million jobs over the next 10 years, secure social security and medicare for another 75 years, balance the federal budget by 2030, and make America energy secure by 2024."

To date, 78 congresspeople, both democrats and republicans, have signed onto to be "problem solvers" and more would like to but leaders on both sides are holding them back because they want to push only their own agendas.

Ms. Jacobson said that as she spoke people involved in "No Labels" are creating a "public policy blueprint" regarding how to address particular issues from a bipartisan standpoint  (including immigration reform) and what they ultimately come up with will be revealed on December 5th after the fall election when things will be at an expected emotional lull.

Ms. Jacobson was invited to speak at the City Club at the suggestion of Shaker Heights City Councilman Tres Roeder who spoke for a few minutes and said one reason he was motivated to get involved in the "No Labels" movement was that he didn't like it that people, particularly youngsters, were being subjected to seeing governmental leaders being downright nasty to each other via television and other forms of social media. He recalled that just last week his son came back from a Model United Nations conference in Columbus where, for sure, his son participated in some intense debates over policy matters but at no point did the dialogue stoop to smearing, mocking or threatening people who didn't agree with each other like what is going on now during the U.S. Presidential contest. Mr. Roeder also invited Ms. Jacobson to speak at a meeting of the Northeast Ohio City Council Association and the results were excellent.

Regarding what can be done, Ms. Maureen McGrath, Deputy Director of "No Labels" passed out postcards that we could sent to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and U.S. Congressperson Marcy Kaptur urging them to support a "national strategic agenda" consisting of the four goals listed before. The first paragraph of the postcard read, "it's time for America's leaders to stop fighting and start fixing. A governing process that begins with setting goals, then moves on to policy negotiations, will make this possible."

Drawing on her own political experience, Ms. Jacobson told us that meetings with our state, local, and federal representatives can be very effective and, based on our own tenure working in the office of former U.S. Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich, we believe her to be right.

During the Q and A, we asked Ms. Jacobson about the suggestions of "No Labels" regarding immigration reform. She told us that they are exploring the possibility of connecting it to entitlement reform and addressing both issues at once. Ms. Jacobson indicated that she certainly realized that immigration reform absolutely needed to be dealt with and she had spoken with the head of La Raza about it.

We talked to several people on this day who were very concerned citizens like Dr. Gabriela Kaplan, M.D., President of the Lifewatch Group, LTD., and Ms. Anne M. Feleppelle, Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs for the United Way of Greater Cleveland.

What was really great was having two young people there who were keenly interested in the present day political climate.

First, we sat with Mr. Bill Johnson, a CSU political science student who seized the initiative and attended this program on his own because he is very concerned about the current wave of hyper-partisanship particularly in light of the impending battle over President Obama's Supreme Court nominee.

IMG_9200And then there was Mr. Alex Belovich who is part of the "No Labels" chapter at the University of Akron (we learned that 100 colleges throughout the country have a chapter) who got to talk to all of us for a moment. Mr. Belovich said that he really likes "No Labels" because it was dealing with a very serious problem and he loved the forums that it puts on. He wished that more young people would become involved.

We wish so too because, as we learned the other day at the program that we went to regarding millennials, young people like challenges and often tend to be terrific "problem solvers" and it is our observation that such constructive input is tremendously needed on the political front at this time.

Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.

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