Members of No Labels rally against extreme partisanship on the West Lawn of the Capitol in July.
Ruck.us is an online tool that allows people to freely organize around issues and interests without the constraints of party labels. Ruck.us aims to bring politically like-minded people together, help them share information and empower them to collective action.
“We’re used to everything being tailored for us,” Daschle said. “Parties, at the end of the day, are a means to an end.” Instead of bringing together traditional political types, Ruck.us has formed early partnerships with groups such as StudentsFirst, LiveStrong and Rock the Vote.
Of course not everyone thinks these anti-party groups are a great idea.
“I know the Beltway is enamored with the idea of some great mass middle that is ‘moderate’ and craves representation it can’t get from the two major parties,” said Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos, a prominent liberal blog. “But ideas like No Labels and [Ruck.us] fail to go anywhere because they’re based on what is clearly faulty Beltway conventional wisdom.”
On one level, Daschle agrees.
“The rise of independents, one of the starkest trends of the last decade, is not a rush to the ‘middle,’” Daschle said. “The people are exactly where they have always been. They have just lost their faith in parties.”
That’s part of the reason why Daschle and Chief Strategy Officer Ray Glendening aren’t pushing an ideology with Ruck.us and wouldn’t mind if liberals, conservatives and moderates use the site.
Whether it’s Unity08 or HotSoup.com, it’s true that these groups have had a short shelf life. HotSoup, which launched in 2006, was once dubbed “the MySpace for political junkies,” if that’s any indication of where it ended up. But that’s not discouraging activists this time around.
“HotSoup was a good idea just a little bit ahead of its time,” said McKinnon, also among that group’s founders. “Voter discontent was not nearly as high as it is today, and we couldn’t deliver the kind of technological innovation and solutions that are available today.
“I see all these efforts as synergistic and compatible in the sense that they are all trying in different ways to get people engaged in fixing our broken politics,” McKinnon added. “As tough as things are, we are collectively an optimistic bunch and believe that democracy finds ways to work things out in the end.”
On January 3, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., raises her right hand as her son Henry messes up her hair while Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., delivers the ceremonial swearing-in in the Old Senate Chamber. Gillibrand's other son Theodore, lower right, looks on.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.