In an effort to increase bipartisanship in Congress, the anti-gridlock group, No Labels, in conjunction with Third Way, encouraged members of Congress from different political parties to sit with each other at last night’s State of the Union address. A similar campaign was introduced last year as a symbolic bipartisan demonstration of support for Representative Gabrielle Giffords.
This effort may seem trivial, but it is a worthwhile one to encourage personal relationships between members of both parties, and ultimately reduce some of the hyper-partisanship in Congress. Parings were comprised of Republican and Democratic members from state delegations and Committee chairman from opposite parties, among others. Some of the pairings from last night included:
Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) & Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD);
Senator John Kerry (D-MA) & Senator Scott Brown (R-MA); and
Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) & Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).
In all, over 200 lawmakers signed up with No Labels to sit with a buddy from across the aisle. While such small signs of bipartisanship pale in comparison to the increasing partisan rancor and policy disagreements that drag on unresolved on Capitol Hill in an election year, it is a positive step forward. Any opportunity to build relationships between lawmakers increases the chance for the thoughtful exchange of ideas and perhaps even compromise.
For more information on last night’s campaign: http://nolabels.org/blog/sotu-whos-who