We all know politics today is broken. Congress’ approval rating is currently 7 percent, among the lowest in our nation’s history. While many have lost their faith in Washington, many of us still believe that we can turn things around. And we should never forget that an effective Congress has been good for our government in the past and would be good for our country in the future.
The inevitable question in this situation is this: What can a single person — a freshman in this case — do to make a difference? In some ways, it’s a question for all of us in this community: Faced with a government that is both incredibly frustrating yet incredibly important, where is the opportunity for change?
There are some places where we can make progress at the federal level, but more important is where we can make a difference close to home. Toward the end of the campaign, I attended a community meeting at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Lynn and met a young man who had limited opportunities growing up, but put himself through vocational school and now has a great manufacturing job.
Imagine if we had a hundred more graduates like him. They would not only be making better wages for themselves, they would help attract growing businesses to Lynn and bring good jobs and benefits to dozens more.
The fishermen of Gloucester have just one simple request: let us fish. Both the fishermen and the environmentalists want a sustainable fishery; we should be able to work together to get there. No one will win if we have to import our fish from overseas, where there are few if any environmental regulations and no economic benefits for us here at home.
If you run a business in Burlington and are trying to attract young programmers, you have probably been frustrated by the fact that the only option for commuters is driving, and Route 128 is as clogged as ever. Most young people don’t even own cars, so we need to improve our transportation options if we are going to remain competitive with places like Cambridge and Somerville. That benefits commuters, businesses, and the entire community.
One of my primary focuses in Congress will be veterans’ health care. Our veterans deserve the best care in the world. I get my own health care from the VA, and I can tell you that we can do much better. Indeed, many have asked me lately if I will be giving up VA health care now that I’m headed to Congress. I will not. Until we can get the VA back on track, I want to know the system firsthand, so that I don’t let anyone in Congress forget about the problems so many veterans face every day.
But above all else, my priority will be listening to you. Over the next two months, I will be setting up offices and building a team to serve our district. What I ask in return is that you stay involved. I want to hear what you are hearing, see what you are seeing, and understand what you are thinking.
America says that anyone can run for office, and as Martin Luther King taught us, we can all make a difference because we all can serve. That’s why I decided to run even when most people believed there was no way we could win. You’ve given me this opportunity, and I take it as a sacred responsibility.
It won’t be easy, it won’t always be fun, but if together we can make this district a little better, give ourselves a little more opportunity, and make the future a little brighter for our children and our neighbors, then it will all be worth it. That is the American way, it is the American dream, and it is my fervent hope as your next representative.
Seth Moulton is the congressman-elect for Massachusetts’ 6th Congressional District.
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