The day after Congressman Seth Moulton was elected in 2014, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called him on the phone. An Iraq War veteran, Moulton had next to no political experience and had just won against an incumbent of 18 years, and Pelosi campaigned heavily for his opponent.
Moulton, U.S. Representative for the 6th District of Massachusetts, told this story to students in the Vanderslice Cabaret Room on Monday at an event hosted by the College Democrats of Boston College.
“[Pelosi] didn’t apologize,” Moulton said. “She was ostensibly calling to congratulate me, but the real reason … was because she wanted my vote on something.”
Moulton felt that there was a certain beauty in the fact that Pelosi still called him to ask for his support despite his lack of political experience.
Moulton never explored politics until after he had returned from the Iraq War. Failing leadership in Washington motivated him to run for office. Unlike many politicians, however, Moulton did not come from a political family.
“I think the first congressman my parents met was me,” he said.
Moulton added that when he first began campaigning for office, no one knew who he was. Even his own pollster told him to drop out of the race at one point.
He said his campaign won by knocking on a lot of doors and talking to a lot of people. He believes that that is the hard work of democracy.
Moulton also discussed the importance of staying engaged politically, especially in the current political climate.
“One of the most frustrating things about politics today is that so many people are so disgusted with the situation in Washington that rather than getting involved to try to change it, they just check out,” he said.
“You don’t have to be famous. You don’t have to come from a rich family to run for office and to make a difference.”
—Congressman Seth Moulton
When he first decided to run for office, his family and friends asked him why he chose to get involved in politics, implying that he was wasting his time. Moulton was saddened by this mentality.
“If we’re going to make things better … we’ve got to get new people involved,” he said. “We’ve got to get good people involved.”
He encouraged the audience to stand up to fix a broken system.
Moulton also thanked the students involved in the College Democrats of BC who had volunteered and campaigned for Hillary Clinton. He said that they had made a difference in an election that their children and grandchildren would remember. Clinton lost the presidency in an upset early Wednesday morning.
Newton Mayor Setti Warren, who worked directly with Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, also spoke at the event in support of Clinton’s presidential candidacy.
“I saw her behind closed doors, and I saw her in public,” Warren said. “I can tell you she has the character, she has the integrity, she has the commitment and the passion to ensure that every single person of any background has the opportunity to meet their full potential.”
When taking questions from students, many of whom were members of the College Democrats, Moulton continued to focus on the importance of personal relationships in his experience in the House of Representatives.
He described how the future president should reach out to Congress, especially if the House and Senate are controlled by the opposing party. He emphasized the importance of bipartisanship, joking that as a Democrat in a Republican-controlled House, he could only pass bipartisan bills anyway.
Finally, Moulton highlighted the need for a new generation of leadership in Washington. He said that the beauty of a democracy is that anyone can get involved and work for change.
“You don’t have to be famous,” he said. “You don’t have to come from a rich family to run for office and to make a difference.”
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