By Samantha Phillips
When opposing views in Congress cause a stalemate, the lack of compromise can delay progress. No Labels, a student organization at Youngstown State University, wants to change that.
No Labels is a national movement that strives to build a cooperative government, with the presidential administration and both houses of Congress working together to achieve mutually agreed-upon goals that will solve the nation’s problems.
Tyler Miller-Gordon founded the YSU chapter in the fall of 2015 and serves as chapter president.
“We are a bi-partisan political organization, so it doesn’t really matter if you’re Democrat, Republican or Independent because we are all about working together,” Miller-Gordon said. “We are ‘committed to fix, not fight’. It’s not about being left or being right, it’s about moving forward.”
No Labels meets every other Tuesday in the dean’s conference room in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at 5 p.m.
Lindsay Heldreth, vice president of No Labels, said the group aims to find common ground between political parties and alleviate the present tension.
“The main goal is to promote a spirit of problem solving. Essentially what we want is for people, no matter what their political party, to get together and talk about the issues that are concerning everybody,” Heldreth said. “Through inviting everybody, we think we will be able to get a lot more done. Currently in politics there’s a lot of polarization in terms of the Republicans not wanting to work with Democrats and vice versa.”
No Labels doesn’t promote candidates or parties; they contact presidential candidates and ask if they would be willing to work towards one of four main goals.
The four goals are to create 25 million jobs over the next 10 years, secure Social Security and Medicare for the next 75 years, balance the federal budget by 2030 and make America energy secure by 2024.
If they agree to address solutions to these goals within their first 100 days in office, they get the Problem Solver Seal of Approval.
“They’re goals that we can all agree are positive to work towards, and we accept sort of any solutions to it,” Heldreth said. “The goal isn’t to promote one party’s solutions to the problems, but to get everybody’s input so we can come up with the best solution.”
At the No Labels national convention last fall, eight candidates presented the issues they were most passionate about, described how they are a problem solver and were given the Seal of Approval.
“Essentially what No Labels does is inform people on the candidates and direct them to those candidates, so they’re willing to work with other political parties to solve problems,” Heldreth said.
Miller-Gordon said the objective is to promote a spirit of problem solving and encourage students who are hesitant to vote for candidates outside the political party with which they affiliate.
“[We want to] make it a common thought to say ‘Yes, I’m a republican in my ideals, but I really think this Democrat or Independent candidate is capable of change, and I want to work with them to come to better solutions,’” Miller-Gordon said.
About 20 students signed up last semester and 38 signed up this semester, according to Antonette Scharsu, member of No Labels.
Gordon said a common criticism of No Labels is that it’s a moderate organization, and people think they have to give up their political identity to join.
“That’s not what No Labels means,” he said. “We don’t ask you to reject your identity, we ask you to not let it get in the way of the progress of America. We all have these goals we can achieve if we actually work together.”
Scharsu said that student involvement in politics is getting better, and they want people to think about how a candidate’s solution will affect everyone.
“Especially with this upcoming election, there’s been a major jump in educated voters in our age group,” Scharsu said. “Furthering those solutions that are issues for everyone is really important.”
No Labels is holding a Problem Solver Conference on Friday from 12 to 2 p.m. The main event is the keynote speaker presentations. The speakers will be State Senators Frank LaRose and Capri Cafaro.
There will be a panel of Problem Solvers — people who are devoted to No Labels and problem solving in politics including Interim Dean Jane Kestner, SGA President Ashley Orr, Student Trustee Sam Anderson, professor Bruce Waller and Youngstown Incubator intern Jillian Smith.
There will also be student organization breakout sessions where organizations discuss solving problems on campus and in the community, giving students the opportunity to get involved. The organizations include YSUscape, Pi Sigma Alpha, Student Government Association, National Organization for Women and College Democrats. They are also reaching out to the College Conservatives.
“I don’t know if they are particularly active on campus this semester, but it’s important to us that we maintain both sides of the aisle,” Gordon said.
Scharsu said the keynote speakers will contribute non-partisan solutions to fixing congress.
“They will basically be speaking on what it means to be a problem solver,” Scharsu said. “What No Labels as an organization stands for and how students can further those objectives in their own communities by participating in voting, voter education, and putting party labels aside to better our government.”
Gordon said students shouldn’t be apathetic towards politics because it impacts everyone’s life. He hopes to see students come to the conference and have discussions with other students, listen to the speakers and grab some pizza.
Heldreth said joining No Labels and attending the conference is a great way for YSU students to get involved with politics.
“It’s a great way to get informed with the issues, interact with a couple state senators and to get involved in politics in general because I think now is a more important time than ever to make sure we are informed and engaged,” she said. “We’re just trying to make a difference in [the way we] work together.”