We had three hungry mouths to feed when a grocery revolt took place decades ago. During the generic rebellion, traditional brands like Hunt's, Heinz and Kellogg were attacked and underpriced. New sections of grocery store shelves were lined with colorless labels identifying less-than-premium quality green beans, corn, chili and ketchup. It was expected to find bean stems and watered-down-ketchup inside those labels. After all, while home cooks set aside the established quality of brand name competitors, they felt good about saving money and slapping those reputable images in the face for taking customer loyalty for granted for so long.
But before long, the gig was up when it leaked out that those generic brands came from the same canning plants as established name suppliers. American generic product buyers were paying for the brand name's rejects.
That's what popped into my mind when a press release from a new political movement called "No Labels" crossed my laptop screen. The leaders of the group are former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and Congressman Joe Manchin. Huntsman, who once identified himself as a Republican, and Manchin, who identifies himself as a Democrat, started an effort in Congress which Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) has joined.
"Kinzinger joined the No Labels congressional problem solvers, a group of 24 members of Congress -- Democrats and Republicans from both the House and Senate -- who have committed to meeting regularly to build trust across the aisle," the presser said.
“In the coming months, Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike must work together to tackle serious fiscal reforms including the sequester and the debt ceiling,” said Kinzinger. “The American people chose a divided government in Washington and they’re counting on us to work together.”
How could anyone expect anything less than quality conservative ideals to be set aside for bi-partisan efforts with reject "stems" and watered-down, generic ideals? And all because Americans chose a "divided government" in November?
Maybe we're all edgy with the ILGOP civil war rumors, but I responded to Kinzinger spokesman Brook Hougeson rather curtly. "Is Congressman Kinzinger headed towards filling Bob Dold and Judy Biggert’s empty shoes in the GOP caucus?" I asked.
She wisely and calmly asked me to restate my question, so I did.
Both Dold and Biggert prized their moderation and cooperation with those across the aisle. Since they’re both gone now, "Congressman Kinzinger appears to be willing to step up and fill a similar cooperation void he sees," I said.
Then I referred to the press release's boast that Illinois Democrat Congressman Dan Lipinski had also joined the No Labels coalition.
"Democrats don’t come towards conservatism. Even Congressman Lipinski refused to vote for the Obamacare repeal twice – and on the Congressional vote spectrum he’s got as many to the Left as to the Right of him. Is this what Congressman Kinzinger is modeling his public service toward?"
And to be noted - Kinzinger's 16th congressional district is more Republican that his former 11th district was. And Lipinski's 3rd congressional district is also more Republican than last decade's 3rd was. Kinzinger should be more secure in his district and Lipinski should be less secure - if he doesn't get the Vatican ambassadorship he's pushing for these days.
Kinzinger's press person was strong in her assurance that the concerns I expressed about a generic congressman in the new 16th CD were unfounded.
"Congressman Kinzinger is a strong conservative who is fighting to rein in out of control spending; focus our efforts toward growing the private sector, where jobs are created; and pass a budget and get serious about comprehensive tax reform. However, he recognizes that the American people chose a divided government in Washington," she insisted, using that "divided government" term again.
"If we’re going to get anything done, Washington will have to work together. Throughout his first term in office, the Congressman has worked with folks on both sides of the aisle on issues ranging from our economy, to fiscal responsibility, to helping our veterans find work, to military safety. Working to find common ground solutions that will get our nation back on track is nothing new for the
So, we are to take from this that Kinzinger and the No Labels crowd are convinced that in order to fix the nation's ills our congressional leadership must be tolerant and cooperative. The way Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi see that is to simply lower the Republican standards and quality of product to something consumers will rush to grab up like they did those nondescript labeled cans on the generic store shelf during the grocery brand rebellion.
After the kids complained and refused to consume generic products, we eventually returned to those well-known brands because we knew when we opened the can what to expect. No-label generics just didn't fit the need on the dinner table.
And we expect that the No Labels coalition will come to a similar end. Congressman Kinzinger should consider himself warned.