By Duane Paul Murphy
Pennsylvania Congressman Brendan Boyle spoke to more than 30 students about the state of American politics in Washington, D.C., as well as nationwide, on Wednesday night in the Byron Auditorium of the Columbus School of Law. Dr. John Kenneth White, longtime senior politics professor at Catholic University, moderated the discussion with the representative and CUA College Democrats president Marie Erickson, a junior english and secondary education major, presented introductions beforehand.
The first topic introduced by White was the conclusion of the Mueller Report into allegations of collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian Government under the regime of its longtime leader Vladimir Putin. Boyle told White that, before the release of the report’s conclusions, he said publically to wait for the report to be completed and now advocates to officially release the full report from the U.S. Department of Justice due to a need for transparency.
Afterwards, a wide variety of issues were brought up between White and students during the open floor portion of the event, allowing students to speak. Topics that were mentioned included Boyle’s support for the Green New Deal to combat climate change, expand social security by raising taxes, and promote blue-collar working class interests and concerns as a primary founder of the congressional Blue Collar Caucus.
When foreign policy issues such as Algeria’s ongoing political crisis were mentioned, Boyle, a former member of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and International Terrorism, expressed skepticism and concerns about how potential uprisings in the Northern African country could lead towards destabilization and possibly autocracy in a power vacuum. Boyle said that the Arab Spring of 2011 has “not sprung” in its aftermath, resulting in mostly civil wars and undemocratic illiberal regimes in countries such as Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Egypt.
After the event, several students gave the discussion a positive review.
“I thought that tonight’s event opened up an incredible and rare opportunity for dialogue between our students a Congressperson,” said Tommy Gambino, College Democrats Events Director and a junior undergraduate. “We are so thankful that Representative Boyle was able to join us this evening, and special thanks must be given to Dr. John White of the CUA Politics Department for doing an excellent job of moderating the event.”
Other students expressed similar sentiments.
“Brendan Boyle reminds us that political energy is not only in national politics, but the local politics, which affect us most,” said Regina Brennan, a sophomore politics major. “Everyone in College Democrats is extremely grateful for his time tonight.”
Before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014, Boyle, a Philadelphia native and university graduate of Notre Dame and Harvard, was a young member of the Pennsylvania state House of Representatives between 2009 and 2015 representing his hometown. During the Democratic Party primaries for the congressional district that represents his own city, Boyle defeated Marjorie Margolies, mother-in-law of former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton.
Since his time on Capitol Hill, Boyle has been supportive of other progressive policies besides expanding Social Security for elderly retirees, protecting labor organizing rights, and advocating for the Green New Deal. Boyle also supported a Medicare for All single-payer healthcare system and raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15.00 per hour. His brother, Kevin J. Boyle, is also a state representative. Elected in 2011 while his older brother was still in state office, both Boyle brothers became the only set of brothers or siblings to serve simultaneously in Pennsylvania’s state House of Representatives in its 300-year history as a public institution. Boyle will be up for reelection again in the upcoming 2020 elections to represent Pennsylvania’s 2nd Congressional District.