WASHINGTON — “Everybody mispronounces my name,” said Rep. Jake Auchincloss. “Truly, everyone.”
The person who mispronounced his name last Wednesday turned out to be President Biden, with whom Auchincloss traveled on Air Force One to Auchincloss’s native Massachusetts, where the president traveled to promote a set of new actions to deal with climate change. In her introduction, Biden badly mangled Auchincloss’s name (it’s aww-KIN-claws, for the record) and then wondered, “Where is she?”
He is a 34-year-old Harvard graduate who served in the Marine Corps, including in Afghanistan and Panama, before applying in 2020. for the suburban Boston congressional seat vacated by Joe Kennedy III in his unsuccessful Senate bid. opponents pointed to the fact that he had been a Republican briefly and, many years earlier, had made offensive comments on social media.
Casting himself as an “Obama-Baker” centrist (Charlie Baker is the much-loved Republican governor of Massachusetts for whom Auchincloss had worked), Auchincloss managed to emerge from an eight-candidate Democratic primary that included an opponent endorsed by the progressive star. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Bostonian. he did it running downtown in a district famously (if not always accurately) regarded as one of the most liberal in the country.
If that is one paradox, there are others. He is Jewish, but his paternal lineage traces back to such famous mid-century WASPs as McGeorge Bundy, one of John F. Kennedy’s infamous “best and brightest” advisers, and Louis Auchincloss, the novelist who chronicled the high society of the east coast from its position in Manhattan. .
He is also a young Democrat willing to defend Joe Biden at a time when the president is disconcertingly unpopular with his own party, especially its energetic progressive base and its younger voters. Asked earlier this week if Biden should run for a second term, progressive Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., demurred. “He is the president”, she said. “He has the right to run for a second term.”
Misunderstandings like this irritate Auchincloss. “I’m ready for generational change,” he told Yahoo News over a beer one recent night at the Brig Brewery in Washington, DC “The answer isn’t to take down Joe Biden. Joe Biden is standing on the brink right now, at a time when our democracy is fragile. We should focus on making him a success in the second half of his first term.”
These efforts have landed Auchincloss in the Fox News newsroom more than a dozen times in the past year, making him one of the few Democrats to regularly venture into conservative territory. After the leak of a Supreme Court opinion that would spell the end of legal abortion in many states, Auchincloss took his case to the right. As he wrote on Facebook at the time, “I went to Fox News because we can’t let the Republicans change the narrative.”
Although the current president does not follow cable news as obsessively as former President Donald Trump did, efforts like Auchincloss’s have often taken on a broadly negative tone. “I will defend him on MSNBC and tell the left to stop taking him down,” Auchincloss said. “I’m going to defend him on Fox and tell the right to stop launching bad faith attacks on him.”
For the record, he’s been on MSNBC 35 times, according to his staff; she has appeared seven times on CNN. She has also drawn attention in other ways. His staff was accused of allowing several members of Stephen Colbert’s comedy production team, including a puppet known as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, in the US Capitol complex after public visiting hours endedleading to seven arrests and angry fulminations from people like Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who compared intrusion to violent insurrection on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, 2021. Auchincloss’s chief of staff was also charged with tearing down signs that adorned the entrance to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s congressional office. In making the accusation on the floor of the HouseGreene mispronounced “Auchincloss” just as badly as Biden.
Of the Colbert incident, a spokesperson for Auchincloss said the congressman “does not condone any inappropriate activity and cannot discuss anything that occurred outside of business hours.” He did not deny Greene’s accusation, as the incident was recorded.
Along with other young Democrats, including Rep. Ro Khanna of California and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Auchincloss represents a brand of Democratic politics that paradoxically promotes relatively progressive politics through moderate rhetoric and attempts, albeit ill-conceived, to of bipartisanship. Impressively educated and culturally sophisticated, these Democrats don’t want to be cutting edge or part of the old guard.
Auchincloss said that on the flight back to Washington, DC, from Massachusetts, Biden spoke to the other members of the House and Senate on the trip informally for about half an hour. He also took a moment with Auchincloss himself. “Without skipping a beat, he gave me really meaningful and insightful advice in a very compact format.”
(That was the same night that Biden began showing symptoms of the coronavirus, so it would test positive the next morning. Somehow none of the lawmakers who traveled with him last Wednesday got sick.)
Although he was a member of the City Council in Newton, Massachusetts, just two years ago, Auchincloss is not shy when it comes to assuming the voice of his party. “Shame on any Democrat who didn’t fight to keep the House or put his own personal ambitions before keeping the blue gavel,” he says. But he is also less abrasive than Seth Moulton, the former Massachusetts representative whose bid to unseat Nancy Pelosi as the House Democratic leader. irritated other members. Later Kennedy Unsuccessful primary run against incumbent Senator Ed Markey had the same effect.
Auchincloss is the 21st most progressive member of the House, based on an analysis of voting records. But he certainly doesn’t talk like that. And as a white man who has benefited from immense privilege and social capital, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was a very distant relative; Her father is a prominent physician who serves as a senior deputy to Dr. Anthony Fauci, and her mother is a high-profile medical executive: She may have a hard time persuading progressives that he has their best interests at heart. the bottom.
Auchincloss is quick to stop talking about his own ambitions, which tends to be a signal in Washington that those ambitions are broader than can be discussed in polite society. (He offered this reporter the opportunity to serve as his running mate in the 2032 presidential election, but the offer was apparently made in jest.)
Auchincloss calls his agenda “costs, crime, and classrooms,” an alliterative trio that coincidentally covers three political pain points in the Biden administration.
He openly acknowledges that remote learning was an educational disaster, one that Republicans have seized on to launch a broader attack on progressive educational values, particularly when it comes to how issues of race and sexuality are taught. “Between school closures and some of the rhetoric around education in general, we need to make parents feel more involved.”
Calling himself a “law and order liberal,” Auchincloss criticizes progressive district attorneys who have taken on the mantle of social justice while, critics say, ignore crime. “Rules matter,” he said, and so does enforcing them. “We can’t just be against ‘defunding the police.’ We have to proactively come out and recognize that crime hurts.”
Auchincloss said higher education, housing, health care and child care should be “nearly universally accessible.” Although he doesn’t necessarily criticize progressives focused on racial equity, his view dovetails with that of Ruy Teixeira, a well-regarded liberal demographer who recently left the Center for American Progress for what he described as his unhelpful concern for the race. “My perspective is that the most important thing to focus on in the social system is the economic system. is class,” Teixeira recently told Politico.
“Some of this has to do with where you decide to fight, how you explain things to people,” Auchincloss said, noting how effective Democrats’ messaging on health care was in the 2018 congressional midterms, when the future of the Affordable Care Act was defined. On the line.
“When Democrats campaign to lower health care costs, we win the election,” Auchincloss said. He has started a political group that has doled out thousands of dollars in campaign funds to other moderate Democrats, a sure sign of an elected official on the rise and looking to make friends. He recently hosted a fundraiser for his caucus with Representatives Adam Schiff of California and Jared Golden of Maine, influential Democrats who don’t necessarily spend time with first-time candidates from safe districts.
“We need to move away from the politics of tort and toward the politics of opportunity,” Auchincloss said. Launching into theories of individual responsibility and liberty, he can sound almost like a conservative, or maybe just like a Biden-esque Democrat.