There are currently more unregistered independents in the U.S. than Republicans and Democrats combined. Why? At an event hosted by the College Democrats of Massachusetts, the College Democrats of Boston College, and UGBC on Monday night, Governor Deval Patrick said that the reason may be poor party perceptions.
“The behavior down in Washington is so cartoonish,” he said.
Throughout the event, Congressman Joe Kennedy, who was also a featured speaker, and Patrick encouraged students to vote in the upcoming elections and touched on issues existing in the current government.
Since being elected to the what he called the “least popular House of Representatives in history” two years ago, Kennedy blamed the Republican majority for the House’s lack of progress.
Republican leadership, he said, voted to appeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) about 50 times, shut down the government in 2013, refused to raise the minimum wage or act on climate change, and declined to repeal the defensive marriage act.
“This is an extraordinary challenge, then, for those of us who believe that government has to be a part of our society if we are going to take on major challenges that affect all of us,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy stressed the importance of voting to elect Democrats to Congress so that Democratic legislators can begin to have success. Together, the people and the elected representatives can solve generational issues, such as climate change and minimum wage, he said.
In introducing the main speaker, Patrick, Kennedy said that he is “a friend, a mentor, [and] a leader … someone who, in my mind, embodies the very highest ideas and the very best of what it means to be truly a public servant.”
The government, Patrick said, should strive to help people help themselves.
Under Patrick’s leadership, Kennedy said, Massachusetts has ranked No. 1 in healthcare, student achievement, energy efficiency, and economic competitiveness. Kennedy said that Patrick is honing in on the generational obligations that are left to the people and aiming to make the world a better place for generations to come.
Patrick noted that while he had previously worked in the private sector, he saw that state government exhibited an emphasis on short-term results. He said he believes that this ideal has begun to seep into the way people govern the nation as well.
Patrick stated that today people are taught that they must leave the world a better place than they found it so that the generations to come can continue to thrive on earth. As governor, he said he will continue to look at the long-term results and to take care of all people, whether they are democrats or not.
Kennedy also touched on the issue of college tuition and soaring student loan interest rates.
“[Washington] is not doing enough,” Kennedy said.
A proposal was created that would lower interest rates on student loans, but it failed to pass. Patrick understands that universities have been raising their tuitions to see which families can match the cost, and those who cannot afford to pay the tuition will receive more financial aid.
Patrick stated that local public universities have received more money from the government. This allows fees to decrease for students. But in Washington, a long battle still lies ahead.
The featured speakers also reflected the government’s role in domestic violence prevention. Patrick’s wife, Diane, a former victim of domestic violence herself, plays an active role in helping other victims. Patrick noted that she frequently gives speeches on the issue and informational materials on how to get help.
Under Patrick’s and his wife’s guidance, shelter services have expanded, but hotlines and shelters still need funding, Patrick said.
Kennedy added that he used to be a public prosecutor in domestic violence cases.
“The issue is much more widespread than we think,” he said.
He believes, however, that there are many bright spots, including organizations that can identify high-risk victims and prevent them from committing homicide—but he also stated that there are many ways that we all can get involved and help save lives.
“My predecessor Barney Frank said, ‘Government is the name we give the challenges we solve together,’” Kennedy said.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Staff