Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroiter Magazine > The Frustrated Majority

The Frustrated Majority

April 12, 2023 Detroit Regional Chamber Content Author

Karen Dybis | Metro Detroit Freelance Writer

Pushing for Democracy to Retake Center Stage in D.C.

With the approaching 2024 U.S. election, years of political divisiveness on both sides of the aisle has not only Michigan residents feeling overwhelmed and exhausted but business leaders as well, wondering how this presidential election might impact everything from consumer confidence to their own bottom lines.

As a result, organizations that seek to create bipartisan coalitions that produce effective government are gaining a new spotlight, led in part by “the frustrated majority” of voters and business owners who want to see democracy take center stage in Washington D.C., said Ryan Clancy, Chief Strategist for No Labels.

Since 2009, groups such as No Labels have had a singular goal, Clancy said: “Our mission is to bring together Democrats, Republicans and independents to solve our country’s problems. It sounds simple, but it’s more difficult than people anticipate.”

And, now more than ever, Clancy said, businesses who might have stayed on the sidelines are finding themselves pulled into a political system where controversies created by political extremes seem to get more attention than those frustrated in the middle.

“More business leaders understand they have a vested interest in the stability of the system. A democracy or a government that’s dysfunctional—one that can’t pass budgets or is facing a debt ceiling—isn’t good for anybody, least of all businesses,” Clancy said. “Businesses have a five, ten, twenty-year horizon for making investments. … They’re being awakened by the noisiness. They need to be invested in making the system work.”

“Employers live in the sensible center just like most Americans. Efforts to wrestle power away from the most dedicated partisans and place it in the hands of sensible policy-makers will help solve long-term challenges and build for the future.”

-Brad Williams, Vice President of Government Relations, Detroit Regional Chamber

That’s something Michigan has experienced as well, said Brad Williams, Vice President of Government Relations with the Detroit Regional Chamber. “Businesses rely on the stable economy that democracy provides, the health of our democratic institutions encourages businesses to invest and grow,” Williams said.

Williams said organizations such as No Labels, the Institute for Political Innovation and the Bipartisan Policy Center all have something in common— they are groups that are focused on policy rather than elections.

For example, Williams describes No Labels as an organization that looks to promote bipartisan process reform. The Bipartisan Policy Center, he notes, is a think tank “that really is focused on the actual policy the Congress creates.” And the Institute for Political Innovation (IPI) seeks to establish non partisan primaries with all candidates on one ballot.

“Then, the top five—regardless of party—make it to the general election in an instant runoff,” Williams explained of IPI’s approach. “Thus, this ends the phenomenon where the primary decides the election.”

For Clancy and No Labels, bipartisan coalitions create real and substantial progress that helps that frustrated, exhausted majority. He notes how No Label’s support of the growing bipartisan coalitions in Congress led to the passage of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill in 2021 or the CHIPS semiconductor bill in 2022.

“We’re really supporting the work horses,” Clancy said. “This is the kind of government in poll after poll that people want.”


The Lincoln Project – Fighting Radical Extremism

Reed Galen, Co-founder, The Lincoln Project

Reed GalenMission: The Lincoln Project’s mission is to hold accountable those who would violate their oaths to the Constitution and would place their loyalty to others before their loyalty to the American people and democracy. The Lincoln Project continues to fight radical extremism, the far-right media, populist nationalism, and every elected leader who ascribes to the MAGA agenda.

In Their Words: “Democracy is under attack like no other time in modern history. A totalitarian movement that is threatening to sweep around the world is empowering antidemocratic forces within the United States. From the physical attack on the Capitol to the undermining of our election systems, our democratic institutions are being stressed. The Lincoln Project is mounting a vigorous and sustained effort to counteract these forces so America can remain a beacon of freedom to people around the world,” said Reed Galen, co-founder.

Goal in Advance of the 2024 Election: “Donald Trump and his acolytes represent a nationalist and authoritarian political and ideological movement that we’ve come to associate with “MAGA” or “America First.” The Republican Party is post-ideological and post-conservative and while it retains the political branding of the old GOP, it is now a dangerous and destructive movement. Our best opportunity to preserve democracy in 2024 relies on preparing for the battle ahead, starting today. It is likely that the work we do in 2023 will be as important to the active campaigns of next year,” said Galen.

Bipartisan Policy Center – Ensuring Free and Fair Elections

Kelly Veney Darnell, Interim CEO/Chief Operating Officer, Bipartisan Policy Center

Kelly Veney DarnellMission: The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is a Washington, DC-based think tank that actively fosters bipartisanship by combining the best ideas from both parties to promote health, security, and opportunity for all Americans. Our policy solutions are the product of informed deliberations by former elected and appointed officials, business and labor leaders, and academics and advocates who represent both sides of the political spectrum.

In Their Words: “Our nation is closely divided, and bipartisanship is the only way to create lasting policy changes and tackle our nation’s challenges – large and small. It’s role is that of connector, facilitator, and negotiator. In engaging lawmakers from across the political spectrum, delivering data and context, negotiating policy details, and creating space for bipartisan collaboration, BPC ensures democracy can function on behalf of all Americans,” said Kelly Veney Darnell, Interim CEO/Chief Operating Officer.

Goal in Advance of the 2024 Election: “For the next two years, BPC is intentionally focused on advocating for policies that ensure a free and fair 2024 presidential election and lay the groundwork for a peaceful transition of power. In the long-term, we envision that elections are transparent, free, and fair and the results are respected by winning and losing candidates; governing institutions reflect the will of the people and inspire trust; and lawmakers and the public have respectful and vigorous policy debates,” said Darnell.

The People – Empowering Everyday Americans to Create Better Government

Katie Fahey, Executive Director, The People

Katie FaheyMission: As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, The People is nonpartisan organization founded in 2018 and built upon momentum from the successful effort to end partisan gerrymandering in Michigan led by Executive Director Katie Fahey. Its mission is helping everyday Americans take the lead in creating a better government of, by, and for the people.

In Their Words: “There are certainly other organizations engaged in the work of bridge-building and strengthening American democracy, yet we are unique in that we focus on the people of a community as the driving force and leaders behind these changes. A community’s strength is its people, and we provide the structure and support to bring people together to create a responsive and accountable government,” said Fahey.

Goal in Advance of the 2024 Election: “To increase everyday Americans’ understanding of and access to the election process. To advocate for the security and trust of our elections, election workers, and volunteers across the nation. We aim to decrease mis/disinformation and help promote accurate information regarding our election system, in an effort to engage everyday citizens and to improve our current processes,” said Fahey.