What is the mood in Washington D.C. right now following the election?
The mood is fear and uncertainty. I think that there are a lot of people on both sides of the aisle who are worried that the [fundamentals] of our democracy are being undermined by the Trump administration. Even among Trump supporters, there’s great uncertainty, because his administration is so chaotic… [In the House], we’re just trying to make sure that the administration follows the Constitution… and we’re trying to make sure that an enemy of the United States, mainly Russia, doesn’t interfere in our democracy. The connections between the Trump team and Russia, one of our long time enemies, is as you know, of the most serious concern. And we owe it to the American people to find the truth.
How has the election and the new administration changed the way you approach your job?
Of course it’s more difficult when the Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the White House. It means that they have less incentive to work across the aisle…. At least in the last administration, Republicans knew that if we passed the bill that the President didn’t like, [the President] didn’t have to sign it. Now we’ve lost that leverage… So I would say that Washington is more divided. Now, one place where you’ll see Democrats and Republicans come together is to re-equate opposing the Trump administration.
How easy or difficult is it to make change in the House?
Well, it’s very easy for the Republicans… if they can’t get things done, then they are an utter failure at government. And the reality is that they haven’t been able to get anything done, because they’ve been too constrained by the scandals of the administration and their own bad ideas like repealing Obamacare without a replacement… In terms of getting things done [for Democrats], it’s hard when you’re the minority. We are willing to work with Republicans on priorities that we share for the American people.
Is there a common ground for Democratic and Republican views?
If you get right down to it, [Democrats and Republicans] actually agree on most things. It’s just that we focus on the places that where we disagree… Our foreign policy is a place where we can put politics aside, [but] it is not always the case. Sadly, I think the Republicans have been particularly partisan about some of our financial security issues lately. But that’s a place where we really want to do what’s best for our security and for our troops… [and where we] work closely together.
What have been some issues that you’ve pushed for the interest of your district?
Economic development is hugely worked on, an awful lot of work [is done] in cities and towns across the district, but especially in Lynnfield, [Massachusetts]… [We’ve] Done a lot of work on bringing innovation into the fishing industry and getting fishermen and scientists together to agree on the science for a sustainable fishery… [We’ve] done a lot of education work for the number of educational institutions in the district. A lot of support for small businesses… We’ve done work on the opioid crisis, the getting funding for local health centers, big advocate of the North South Railway, which will improve transportation access throughout the whole region, including the district.
When do you act in the interests of the district specifically, and when do you act in the interest of the country as a whole?
I always consider both. My duty is to represent the interest of the district, but I swear an oath to the Constitution of the United States. So I’m never going to support my district at the expense of the country.
How has your time at Andover shaped your political career?
Andover’s motto of Non Sibi is what public service is all about. This is a job of public service.
Editor’s Note: Bruce Poliquin ’72 (R, Maine-2nd District) decided to “pass for now” when asked to be interviewed by The Phillipian.