A Trifecta

First Warren, then Markey, and now Representative Niki Tsongas from Massachusetts’ 3rd district.

She had a town hall, and I went with my friend Susan. This time I was the dragger, not the draggee.

Warren and Markey get more national and local coverage, so I feel I know them better. But, after spending a couple hours with Tsongas, I know I like her too.

She may not be as showy as the other two, but I could tell she has strong convictions and a sharp intellect. She also strikes me as a listener who is willing to change her mind through debate.

Can I also point out she will be 71 in a few days? (I could go into why I find that impressive, but that would be a whole separate post.) She lost her husband – an immigrant who became a U.S. Senator – to cancer. She decided to continue his work and make it her own.

I look up to her.

For the past ten years, one of her priorities has been health care. That has taken the form of the ACA. A couple of people in the audience pushed her on single payer. She said she would vote for single payer if it came to the floor. But I got the impression that she isn’t taking her eye off the prize – protecting the ACA from the Republicans. If that means delaying single payer for now, so be it.

She told the crowd that the party of the majority controls the legislative apparatus. Because of that, some things never move forward, and it is very frustrating. She stated that the Democrats need to regain control in 2018. However, she cautioned that one message from the Democrats won’t fit all. The message that will win the day in places like MA and CA won’t win the day in other parts of the country.

She said both parties are concerned about Trump’s “skinny” budget and the impact it will have on programs such as the EPA. She also added that the Republicans have put aside their concerns with Trump in the hopes of achieving their goals. That won’t last. When she wakes up in the middle of the night, she asks herself, “Who can I go talk to?”

With respect to immigration (an issue obviously close to her heart), she feels the courts are doing their job and are operating as a check on the executive branch. However, she is concerned about the enforcement of deportations. She is concerned about the harsh rhetoric of the Trump administration. With cold resolve in her voice, she said she would not give any funding towards a wall.

She brought up the Republican goal of small government – which sounds good until you put it into practice and realize what you have to give up (a point also made by Markey). She used education as an example. She mentioned a study where the education level of each state in the U.S. was compared to leading countries in the world. Massachusetts compared favorably and was included in the top. However, other states were at the bottom. She asked doesn’t a child in the south deserve the same education as a child in MA? How do we raise the federal standard?

As Markey did, she also emphasized the importance of Massachusetts leading. We need to continue going after the tough challenges and model how to tackle them for the country.

Throughout the evening, she said what we are all doing is making a difference. All the calls and letters – even in the blue states – help prove the numbers. Tremendous credit goes to the American people for making the ACA repeal come to naught. The things people are doing – the marches, the rallies, the town halls, the phone calls – are becoming increasingly important. A day after the inauguration – where there was no joy in Mudville – the Women’s March was uplifting and sent a message:

We are not going away.

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