By Seth Daniel
Congressman Mike Capuano hosted a community meeting at Everett High School last Tuesday evening, May 30, to update residents on the current state of affairs in Washington, D.C.
The casual gathering allowed local residents to get a firsthand perspective of Capuano’s views on Washington. The event was well attended by Democrats from Everett and surrounding communities, unsurprisingly many expressing concerns related to President Donald Trump’s administration.
Sen. Sal DiDomenico introduced Congressman Capuano and relayed audience questions to him throughout the evening. The casual atmosphere allowed Capuano to talk candidly with residents, and he began with a general outline on the current state of affairs in Washington and the flaws within the system.
“I know what a lot of you see on TV [makes you] think we hate each other and don’t get along. Honestly that’s just not true,” Capuano explained, regarding the relationship between Democrats and Republicans. “We do disagree with each other. It’s just like going to Thanksgiving dinner with your family.”
Capuano further elaborated that in recent years it has become tougher for Democrats and Republicans to compromise on issues because too many candidates are running on the premise of not compromising.
“It has become fashionable and acceptable to the general public that people run for office and say they are never going to compromise,” he said. “That sounds great, because I know I’m right on every single issue until I talk to you and realize we don’t agree on every issue. That’s a recipe for disaster. It results in nothing happening.”
Capuano used immigration as an example, after a few attendees expressed their concerns regarding the issue.
“We could fix the [immigration] laws in the blink of an eye. Most of us [Democrats and Republicans] agree on the basic issues,” he explained, but said progress is being prevented because too many people in Congress are adamant about the smaller details, which is what is happening with several of the hot issues when major news outlets focus on the extreme left and right perspectives.
One of the first specific questions relayed by Sen. DiDomenico addressed the Paris Agreement, which since the meeting, has caused national controversy after Donald Trump decided to withdraw from it.
“If the President decides to get out of the agreement, it is probably just going to happen,” Capuano predicted. “The House and Senate are run by his party, most of whom agree with him on this issue.”
In turn, he pointed to the flaws of Democrats in their approach to climate change.
“Here’s where I think the Democratic party has been wrong,” he said.
“The way we have been trying to sell it is wrong. We have to accept that mankind is polluting the Earth. I don’t care if people believe that or they don’t. Even if they think it’s a flat Earth, what I care about is what do you do about it? I don’t want them to cower in the corner and agree with me; I want them to do something about it. I want renewable energy, clean air, and clean water. Why would anyone be against clean air and water? Focus on results, not the reason.”
Though Capuano is generally on the left, he clarified he is not afraid to speak against people in his own party when appropriate.
“I’m not a Democrat no matter what Democrats believe,” he said. “If they started believing in something I don’t be live in, I respectfully disagree. Doesn’t mean I am a worse Democrat than someone else. We’re a big party. We’ve got to be flexible. Republicans have to do the same thing.”
Capuano proceeded to point to the flaws within his own party.
“The last election, my side decided to let their primary get to them,” he said. “‘I’m with Bernie, I’m with Hillary, and I hate the other one.’ Are you kidding me? Are you going to tell me that either of them wouldn’t have been better than Donald Trump? If you believe that, I respect you, but I don’t agree with you. Pick one in the primary and get over it. If you don’t, you end up with Donald Trump.”
Capuano was frank with the audience comprised mostly of Democrats that there probably will not be much significant progress over the next couple of years, as Democrats currently have to work hard to defend current policies.
“When you let perfection get in the way of politics, just like in life, you set up a system where you are doomed to fail,” he said. “All of the anger and upset in Massachusetts we have today needs to be channeled towards winning the next election.”