In a nation that feels more divided than ever, Nancy Jacobson wants politicians, leaders, and citizens alike to put labels aside and solve our biggest problems together. As the founder and CEO of No Labels, an organization that fights against dysfunctions and obstacles in today’s politics, she and her team manage to achieve just that.
No Labels has played a key role in bridging the party gap since 2010. Her most significant achievement to date was the inspiration for creating the Problem Solvers Caucus. In this room, members of the Congress look beyond partisan politics from both sides of the aisle and solve important problems. Recently, the caucus was instrumental in creating a bipartisan COVID relief bill.
Nancy Jacobson / No Labels
As more Americans tire of the argument, there is a burgeoning movement of leaders looking for a new, brighter day in American politics. Nancy knows she and her team are just getting started.
A better way to run a nation
As long as she can remember, Nancy has always wanted to be in politics. “I wanted to give everything I have to help the country,” she says. Nancy used this gift as the National Finance Director for former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh for 15 years. Then, in 2011, Senator Bayh left office. He was tired of the constant obstructionism of Congress – and Nancy began rethinking her own flight path in Washington DC
“[Evan Bayh] resigned from the Senate because he was so exhausted by the sharpness, division and inaction in the government, ”recalls Nancy. She still wanted to serve in Washington. But after watching Sen. Bayh’s fighting firsthand, “It gave me a moment of pause,” she recalls. “How do I not get defeated and move on?”
Another critical moment for Nancy was the rapid shift from enthusiasm to pessimism following the election and inauguration of President Barack Obama. “There was such hope and optimism,” she recalls. “For a moment the nation was united! But that changed very quickly. “
Nancy felt the partisans change after the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare was passed. “Never before in our country’s history has such important legislation been passed by just one party,” says Nancy. “At that moment, it seemed like our country was starting to tear.”
Nancy was stunned and saddened by the state of politics and believed it was time to step in and influence change. “It was important to start an organization that brings people together to repair and heal,” she says. She was done working for politicians too. “I wanted to create something that citizens and ordinary people could engage with – have a means of expressing themselves.”
Eventually, through phone calls and networking, Nancy found an amazing leadership team who shared her mission. “Company interests did not take us seriously!” She laughs. “So day after day. Call after call. I have persuaded individuals across the country to support our work. Interestingly, the fact that corporate interests didn’t give us a chance to build a national network of executives who just want our government to work forced me to do it. “
In 2010, Nancy and a team of political leaders from both sides of the aisle, including senators, former White House advisors, attorneys general and members of Congress, officially launched No Labels. Together they vowed not to move the nation left or right.
You were moving forward!
No labels in politics
On a wall in Nancy’s office are portraits of former Democratic Speaker of Parliament Tip O’Neill and Republican President Ronald Reagan – icons of very different parties and ideologies that work closely together. They are the inspirational characters Nancy hopes will one day emulate all politicians.
“They didn’t let their labels get in the way,” she says. “They put the labels aside and figured out how to do things for the American people. That is the government’s point – problem solving. ”
Currently, however, legislation has stalled as both sides are seldom at eye level. But it doesn’t have to be that way with historical examples like Rep. O’Neill and President Reagan. “The hope is that we can both work together and solve big problems for the country,” says Nancy. “Bipartisanism is the way that change doesn’t require a Supreme Court challenge for 30 years. It’s the people. “
Nancy and her team encourage people to put differences aside, if only for an hour. She also makes it clear that No Labels has nothing to do with giving up party affiliation. Proudly be a Republican, Democrat, Independent, or a political party – until you step into an untagged discussion. “There are no labels in the room so that we can solve problems,” she emphasizes.
One of those rooms (or more recently zoom calls) that discussions take place is during Problem Solvers Caucus. “We were the ones who came up with the idea of having a problem-solving caucus in the United States House of Representatives,” says Nancy. With 56 members, with each party equally represented, this is the focal point that focuses on cross-party discussions and decisions.
Only founded in 2017, it is still a new entity. At a time when America’s leaders need to come together more than ever, this could spark extraordinary change. “We are at the moment when there will be a revolution,” says Nancy. “It will need members of Congress to unite.”
Is non-partisanship possible?
A truly bipartisan America may sound like an unattainable dream to many, but Nancy believes it is possible. “I wouldn’t do that if I weren’t an idealist or an optimist,” she says.
Still, a shift will depend on politicians, leaders, and everyday citizens who insist on political transformation. “We have to be the change we expect from our leaders,” says Nancy. “How can we expect them to get better and do better if we can’t do it ourselves?”
Nancy also knows that a reset of modern politics will not happen overnight. A bipartisan landscape requires more than hard work and entertainment. It will also take time and patience.
“It’s hot out there,” says Nancy. “We finished this election. The country is terribly divided. We must continue to build and strengthen this coalition. “With continued success, she hopes that more members of Congress – and everyday citizens – will be encouraged to join the cause of gathering.
“People tend to forget the difference they can make,” says Nancy. “You can band together. You can make a difference. It doesn’t take millions.
“It is always better to light the candle than to curse the darkness.”
The conversation with Nancy Jacobson continues on the podcast “Leading with Genuine Care”. You will learn more about how Nancy, No Labels, and the Problem Solvers Caucus strive to create a better, non-partisan nation. Don’t miss any article or episode of the podcast by signing up for my mailing list. You also get a free guide to my favorite mindful resources. Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn and keep up to date with my company imageOne.