The year of 2011 could easily be tagged as the year of near default, with bipartisan feuds slowing Congressional compromise over , and threatening government shutdowns multiple times.
And, with Congress just barely eking out a temporary compromise on the payroll tax cut days before Christmas, it’s hard to imagine a Washington that works together. But some University of Maryland students believe the party gridlock can be broken -- with a bit of prodding from those on the outside.
“As students, we a lot of times forget that we have the ability to get involved in the political system,” said Marvin Mathew, a Maryland student. “You don’t have to be the loudest person … but politics isn’t something that’s four or five levels away from you.”
Mathew was one of eight University of Maryland students who spoke with members of Congress in Washington on Dec. 13 alongside other members of No Labels, which put together the event. The organization endorses its own 12-point plan to get the parties of Congress working together.
It’s the first point listed that Mathew really likes: No Budget, No Pay, meaning if Congress doesn’t come up with a budget, its members don’t get paid, Mathew said.
“If my mom doesn’t work for a week, she doesn’t get paid … I feel like it’s a very strong stated bill and I think, at the heart, it’s very American,” Mathew said.
While in Washington, the students spoke with Democratic Minority Whip , Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) and No Labels founder Nancy Jacobson.
Mathew said several senators spoke, often in a forum setting and representing a mix of parties.
“They all just shared the [microphone] and it was good because you couldn’t tell who was a Democrat or a Republican … These are what you think of when you think of Congress people,” he said.
Mathew hopes to bring the same kind of dialogue to College Park in February. He is the lead organizer for an event inviting speakers from No Labels and Opportunity Nation, a coalition working to bring equal opportunities across the country. Mathew also expects to have some members of Congress at the event.
Despite the bipartisan heat throughout the year, Mathew believes it’s not just possible to break the gridlock, but also to change the tone of the country.
“I’m young so I think this is the time to fix things … I think America has the capability to do it,” Mathew said.