Mike Dukakis Speaks to TNH about the Current State of American Politics

September 26, 2018

BOSTON, MA – Michael Dukakis, the first Greek-American Massachusetts governor and major party presidential nominee (Democrat, 1988), recently spoke with The National Herald about the current state of American politics. The interview follows.

TNH: what are your thought of the recent congressional primary victory of Democrat Ayanna Pressley and what her message her win conveys to Massachusetts and to the country in general?

MD: I don’t think there is any great message here. Remember, this district was originally designed to be a minority district. But there were a number of candidates and Mike Capuano happened to win that primary and he is a very fine congressman. I think he is one of the best we have. On the other hand, two things have happened: one, obviously you have a minority community much more active politically, and secondly, you have a whole new group, thousands of young people, many of them very unhappy with Trump, who are beginning to get very active politically and they don’t know Capuano and Dukakis. These are young people who came into scene recently and they have been not only very angry of what is going on in the White House, but they are young people who are beginning to assert themselves. And I am teaching many to of these kids. On the other hand, we have a very dynamic and impressive younger woman who has a lot of appeal and a district that has changed very dramatically.”

TNH: But the majority of the state’s Democratic establishment, including Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, endorsed her rival, 10-term incumbent Congressman Michael Capuano.

MD: That tells you something about endorsements. I’ve never been a big fan of endorsements. You have to go out there and organize things. I think it is a mistake to assume because X, Y, or Z who endorses someone is going to play any role here. You know how I feel about grassroots organization. One on hand, I am sad about Mike Capuano’s defeat berceuse he has been a terrific member of Congress, and on the other hand, it tells you what is happening out there with the young people who see what is going on in Washington.

TNH: What do you think about the anonymous op-ed piece in the New York Times, highly critical of President Trump, supposedly written by a senior-level member of his administration?

MD: There was nothing unusual about it. Trump has a problem with democracy. If you are in politics in a genuine democracy, don’t be surprised if you are criticized. And if you do the kinds of things this guy is doing, don’t be surprised that good people inside the administration decide to take steps to protect democracy, which is really what is happening here. Trump’s criticism about [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions is not only appalling, but this guy doesn’t understand democracy.

TNH: Could someone argue that this act of the anonymous op-ed is some type of coup?

MD: No, we have an administration that obviously has some strange ideas about what democracy is all about. This is nothing new, You have been a journalist a long time and you understand there is nothing new about White House insiders who leak information to the press, and that is happens under Democratic or Republican administrations. How do you get you information in the first place? From sources inside the place; it has always been that way. It may drive politicians crazy. I remember a situation as governor where I had a cabinet meeting and the next day almost all of it, verbatim, was in the newspaper. I was thinking who, conceivably, within my administration could do that. As it turned out, what happened was one of my cabinet secretaries came back to his office and briefed his staff of what happened in the cabinet meeting. This is the way it is. We have democracy and people can do and say whatever they want. Our oldest grandchild is a journalist with ABC News in Washington and she is a good one. She has sources in conservative Republican circles, so do you and so do others. Those of us who are reported on get very frustrated, but that is the world we live in. Trump simply doesn’t understand this. Can you imagine?”

TNH: How much do you worry about the United States, where we are heading as a country?

MD: We will see. If the Democrats can take back at least one of the houses, in my judgment, that will be the end of this guy. This is not the first time we have gone through this. You are too young to remember Joe McCarthy. I remember the McCarthy era. That was really scary. He was terrorizing people, accusing people, destroying people. Unlike today, we seem to have a strong opposition to Trump At that time in the 1950s, politicians were scared to death of McCarthy.

TNH: What do you think will happen in the election?

MD: I think the Democrats will take the House back. If that happens, things will change dramatically they will get him out of there.

TNH: Are you for impeachment?

MD: I’m not an impeachment guy. I think you have to go out there and battle him, and I hope we do that and restore our democracy, get back on track.

TNH: Why did the United States elect Donald Trump?

MD: We didn’t, he lost. This crazy electoral system, which should have been abolished two hundred years ago, is still around. He loses by three million votes and gets elected. A bunch of us are working hard to get rid of the Electoral College. We are making some progress.


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