Around the Institute

Sen. Joe Manchin and No Labels Co-Founders Discuss Restoring Trust in US Politics

March 4, 2014

Above, watch a video playlist of important moments from the Washington Ideas Roundtable Series event with the bipartisan group No Labels. 

As the across-the-aisle bickering continues in Washington, the nonpartisan group No Labels is working to bring more cooperation between political parties, and in turn rebuild Americans’ trust in government. Three of the groups’ co-founders, along with honorary co-chair Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va), recently spoke at the Aspen Institute as part of a Washington Ideas Roundtable Series event, where they discussed some of the main points made in the newly released No Labels e-book, “No Labels: A Shared Vision for a Stronger America.”

Read below for a few highlights from the speakers about the nature of politics in the US today.

Sen. Joe Manchin on playing the party line vote:

“If there’s a special club that the Senate has that I haven’t been told about, of why they would sell their soul to stay here, I can’t find it. It makes no sense to me at all, it doesn’t. They came to me one time, they said, ‘This is a party line vote.’ I looked at what they wanted me to vote for, I said, ‘It might be a party line vote, but it sure as hell ain’t a West Virginia vote.’ I can’t explain this back home. If I can’t explain it I don’t vote for it, simple as that.”

Washington pollster Mark Penn on building trust in politics:

“I think trust is only going to come from progress, and even progress will be met with skepticism and a lack of understanding until it’s trumpeted. Leadership is going to have to show the way. For a very long time, people have said people don’t trust in the institutions. And I would’ve said, hey, it’s not so true, because people vote, people participate. We’re a society that when we get angry with each other we take out TV ads, and most other societies they shoot each other… We have a civil society that people participate in. But we love to complain about everything. But I would say now that these are more than complaints, that there’s a real disillusionment that’s setting in, that’s beyond something I’ve seen before.”

Political strategist Ron Christie on bipartisanship:

“If you look at the structure of our national political parties, in the last couple decades it was a very strong role that they played. It was very centralized, and I think, as Bill and Mark articulated, the people get it. They understand what the kitchen table issues are that confront us, that need to be solved. You can find bipartisan consensus on reforming our entitlement system, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security — it’s killing us right now — and folks on both sides of the aisle aren’t addressing it.” 

Watch the full conversation, below.