By Seth Daniel
After a shocking Election Day result that included not only a win by President Elect Donald Trump, but also a Republican sweep through the U.S. Congress and many state legislatures, federal and state leaders for Charlestown have been out on the trail consoling Democratic voters.
In many cases, while some are ready to figuratively jump off the Mystic/Tobin Bridge, Congressman Michael Capuano and State Rep. Dan Ryan have brought levity and a bit of reality to the situation during their speaking tours. The biggest message was to calm down and give Trump a chance for the moment.
“We’re supposed to give him the benefit of the doubt,” Capuano said. “He won an election. I’m not ready to think he’ll become sunshine. Maybe he will and I’ll work with him if he does. He won an election. I have to compromise. If they want to govern from the hard right, we’ll fight them all the way. We might not win many fights, but we’ll fight. We will do the best we can and look to take the House in two years. That’s all we can do.”
Capuano has spoken on several Boston radio programs and he appeared at a small meeting in Chelsea with State Rep. Dan Ryan last Thursday – saying it’s time for Democrats to take a look in the mirror after the loss of the presidency and the Republican sweep.
“I’m not interested in convincing the nuts not to be nuts,” he said. “I’m interested in the other people who voted against their interests – the auto workers, police officers and firefighters…The battle is for the good people to see what this is. If you look at every single person on the street – especially a working class white person and say, ‘I hate you,’ then you just lost.
“Democrats need to look in the mirror and figure out who we are,” he continued. “I’m an old fashioned street politician – a street fighter. I’m not a $50,000 meeting politician where we have a discussion and all feel better. We need to be street politicians again. I think we’ve forgotten that. Democratic ideas that we celebrate came up from the bottom. That’s why results like Michigan stunned me.”
State Rep. Dan Ryan said he feels like there is a silver lining to the results, though many may not see that now.
“There’s a lot of good that came out of Tuesday,” he said. “People think the world is going to end, but it’s not…I understand there is a lot of frustration. I get that. However, of all the things said about Donald Trump, the one thing I realized about him is that he is an opportunist. The racial divide he saw and flamed the fire and used it to his advantage…It’s our job to figure out what’s going on in that he’d of his. He’s going to let more people down on the right than on the left. I’m convinced of it…He saw an opening and took it.”
Capuano said Massachusetts is going to be tested, as it is now an outlier in the political mood of the country in being a Democratic dominated state. He said the House, where he serves, will not be able to do much as the Republicans have the necessary 218 votes to do most anything they want.
However, in the Senate, he said there are 40 Democratic Senators and they can make a difference in votes.
“Republicans are like a pack of dogs in that they have a leader and stick together,” he said. “Democrats are like a herd of cats. Republicans can keep 40 members together and Democrats cannot. We have to stay together now…In the House, we will lose every vote because it’s a majority. But we can set the table for those 40 Senators and give them encouragement…You have to have a long-term view of this.”
He also railed on folks who didn’t vote or chose a third party candidate.
“If this doesn’t prove elections matter, I don’t know what does,” he said. “I’d like to find every person that was too busy to vote and give them a dope slap. I’d like to find every person that voted for a third-party candidate and give them a dope slap. I’ve got my problems with Hillary Clinton. I never said she was the second coming of Christ. Only Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump could have won this election. The people who voted for other candidates – shame on them.”
Ryan said it has been interesting to speak with his daughters in the wake of the election – especially given what was said often times about certain women and the words that were used.
“A lot of this is over their head, but some of it isn’t,” he said. “To a certain extent, they need to know there are jerks in the world.”