In 2002, as part of his consideration about what position to take on going to war in Iraq, Mike Capuano literally stood out on the street in a bunch of different locations all over his district, holding a sign that asked people to tell him their opinions on the matter. (I’m totally not making this up. I believe he had one in Spanish as well.)
That, to me, is the epitome of constituent services. I am not saying that I think every elected official needs to vote 100% with the opinions they hear from the people they represent (what’s up, same sex marriage?), but I absolutely think they have the obligation to learn what those opinions are and the reasons behind them.
It’s true that anyone can pick up the phone and call their legislator’s office, but we all know that the fact of the matter is that very, very few people do. But you know what lots of people do all the time? Go to Dunkin’ Donuts. By putting himself out in the midst of the people in his district and facilitating that dialogue in a setting where he knew he would get feedback that would never reach him otherwise, Capuano showed not just a willingness to interact directly with his constituents, but an understanding of how to do that. I think that’s the heart of this matter for me.
One of my brothers enlisted in the Marines two years before 9/11, and in 2003 he was sent to Iraq. I’m thankful every day that he came home safely, but I haven’t forgotten the fear and the dread that lives with you all the time when someone you love is in the middle of a war. I also haven’t forgotten that just because that someone is away, it doesn’t mean that you suddenly get to spend half your life lobbying for them to come home. Pretty much, you go to work. And you go grocery shopping, and you go home and you fall asleep praying that the phone doesn’t ring in the middle of the night. The fact that Capuano took the time and initiative to seek out and engage with people who were both more likely to be directly affected by this issue and less likely to be proactive about discussing it with him is a big part of the foundation of my support for his candidacy now.
So yes, in tomorrow’s Sarah Palin of Senate elections, I’ll be voting for him – and I’ll be proud to do so.