For longtime Washington observers, the current climate of national politics - endless partisan squabbling with few tangible results that benefit Americans’ lives - can seem unbreakable. But that’s not what Seth Moulton sees. For the young Democratic candidate for the 6th District congressional seat, hope comes from the young.
“Since we’ve moved into the general election, this is a new race. But it has the same themes - an outsider vs. a career politician,” said Moulton in an interview with Gatehouse Media, referring to his Republican challenger and former state Senate minority leader Richard Tisei. “The tradeoff voters have to decide between is time in Washington or fresh perspective. And I think we need new ideas.”
Thus far, it would seem voters agree. Moulton, originally considered a dark horse candidate, ran a largely grassroots campaign against eight-term incumbent John Tierney. Tierney was seen as a vulnerable candidate after narrowly defeating Tisei in 2012, a fight which drew national attention for its acrimonious tone, focus on personal attacks, and influx of out-of-district donations.
Still, Tierney was considered the presumptive nominee right up until the day of the primary. It’s put Moulton in the unique position of establishing his Democrat bona fides to longtime Tierney supporters, while simultaneously proving to centrists and independents that he will be a force for compromise on Capitol Hill.
“I am proud to be a Democrat, but I don’t think they have a monopoly on good ideas,” Moulton said. “I know on the campaign trail Richard (Tisei) has said that he would take certain Democrat positions on issues, but the reality is that right now, national Republicans are only listening to the far right.
“Even in Tisei’s home state, the Republican party established a platform that was absolutely counter to his values,” Moulton noted. “If sent to Washington, he would help strengthen the hegemony that votes against women and the middle class.”
In addition to running for office, Moulton is a veteran of the U.S. Marines. He served four tours of duty in Iraq, engaging in duties as varied as leading infantry platoons in Baghdad to helping establish the first-ever Iraqi free press. It’s experience, he says, that has become more trenchant as politicians consider a military response to the growing threat of ISIS.
“The reality is that the role of Congress is to be a check and balance when the President or the Joint Chiefs want to put troops in harm’s way, and right now there are fewer combat veterans serving in Congress than at any point in our history,” Moulton said.
“It was difficult for me to fight in a war I didn’t believe in, but I went back because I didn’t want anyone else to have to go in my place,” he said. “Too often, we rush to consider a military solution to problems rather than looking to diplomacy and the State Department.”
Many aspects of Moulton’s policy proposals, which include closing corporate tax loopholes, lowering the cost of college, and universal pre-K education, differ little from classic Democrat positions espoused by Tierney during his tenure. The difference, Moulton says, will be a new energy and a willingness to create coalitions where none existed before.
“I am excited to work with who I think are some of the brightest lights in Congress, its younger members. People like Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who created the bipartisan Future Caucus with Republican Aaron Schock,” Moulton said. “I think that ultra-partisanship becomes ingrained if you’ve come up in politics over 20 years, but my generation is different. You don’t fix gridlock by sending back career politicians.”