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Bridging the Partisan Divide: Challenges and Opportunities for Rising Leaders

September 26, 2018

Seth Moulton, U.S. Representative for Massachusetts’ 6th District
Moderated by Shawn Turner, National Security Analyst for CNN and the Director of Communication at the Center for an New American Security

The school recently hosted Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts to discuss the increasingly partisan nature of politics in the United States. In a talk moderated by Shawn Turner, a national security analyst for CNN, Moulton discussed the roots of his bipartisan approach and the importance of being independent and not always following party norms. 

Moulton, a former Marine, reflected on his decision to join the service after completing his undergraduate degree at Harvard University. Also a veteran Marine, Turner noted that the political affiliations of his fellow Marines did not alter his view of them, which Moulton agreed with and echoed. “We were trying to accomplish a mission for America, not for the Democratic party or the Republican party,” Moulton said. He incorporates this same philosophy when working with others in Congress, reaching across the aisle to work with his Republican counterparts.

Moulton noted the importance of not just voting along party lines, but also standing up for your values. He mentioned that when he first ran for office, it was against an incumbent who had been in office for 18 years. According to Moulton, the Massachusetts Democratic establishment discouraged him from doing so, telling him it would ruin his future prospects for politics. “What they were fundamentally saying to me was, ‘Seth, do not participate in the democracy you just risked your life to defend,” Moulton said.

He believes that people respect intellectual disagreement and criticism and that a part of being independent is having the political courage to speak the truth, even when it may not be the most popular opinion.

Mouton went on to describe his experience with the Armed Services Committee and his desire for Democrats to be seen not just as smart with regards to national security, but strong as well. He discussed the Countering Foreign Propaganda Act of 2018, a new bill that he has introduced with bipartisan support to address the increase in advertisements funded by foreign entities.

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