Salem Democrat Seth Moulton could be considered one of the rising stars of the Democratic Party. After doing four tours of duty in Iraq, Moulton splashed onto the national scene by ousting popular Democrat John Tierney to win his seat in the House of Representatives, and within a few years was being floated as a possible presidential contender.
In a Republican-controlled House, Moulton earned praise for being one of the most bipartisan members of Congress and focusing on gun control and veterans affairs. He founded the Serve America PAC, a political action committee dedicated to empowering and supporting veterans in their run for government office that raised more than $3 million and helped flip 21 seats in the 2018 midterm elections.
Now, however, some feel Moulton has squandered his political capital. After a failed revolt against San Francisco Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was thwarted, spectators are wondering if Moulton’s career in the House is coming to an end.
“I think his future in the House is pretty limited,” Meet the Press host Chuck Todd told Boston Public Radio earlier this week. “If he wants to continue his political career, I’d look at Beacon Hill or [Sen.] Ed Markey’s seat.”
Though Moulton’s push for new Democratic leadership echoed the themes of candidates like Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both ended up throwing their support behind Pelosi.
“All the challenges to Leader Pelosi are coming from her right, in an apparent effort to make the party even more conservative and bent toward corporate interests,” Cortez said in a Nov. 21 tweet. “So long as Leader Pelosi remains the most progressive candidate for Speaker, she can count on my support.”
All the challenges to Leader Pelosi are coming from her right, in an apparent effort to make the party even more conservative and bent toward corporate interests.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 21, 2018
Hard pass. So long as Leader Pelosi remains the most progressive candidate for Speaker, she can count on my support. https://t.co/yNVa8IorWY
In an interview with Boston Public Radio Friday, Moulton, who identifies himself as a progressive Democrat, called Cortez’s tweet “offensive,” and not just to him, but to legislators like California Democrat and Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Linda Sanchez, who called for a change in House leadership last fall.
“It’s offensive because [Sanchez] is in the progressive caucus, she is not to the right of Nancy Pelosi, and it’s also offensive because she’s a woman,” Moulton said.
For Moulton, the push to find new leadership, like Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, is about what he sees as the need for a new generation of leadership, not just in the Democratic Party, but Congress as a whole.
“We need to make room for a new generation of leaders," Moulton said. "This election was a call for change from the American people, and we have an extraordinary freshman class that includes a lot of young people, LGBT candidates and an extraordinary number of women and veterans."
Though his feud with Pelosi has generated a lot of attention, Moulton insists it was not sparked by personal animosity he has for her or sore feelings from when she backed his opponent in his 2014 primary run, despite saying Pelosi has “a stranglehold on the caucus right now that people recognize that if they come out against her now, that she’ll turn all her allies against whoever steps up in a very vindictive way and it’ll be very hard to win an election.”
Moulton isn’t only calling for Pelosi to step down. He also thinks Representatives Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn should step down from their respective positions of House Majority Leader and Majority Whip.
“This is not about her. It’s about being a party that is focused on the future,” Moulton said. “I don’t think anybody looks at the top three leaders in the House right now and says, ‘Oh yeah, that’s the future of the party.’”
While some said Moulton’s highly publicized fight with Pelosi was done to raise his political profile, he said he had no interest in running for speaker of the House himself, and pointed out he’s been calling for Pelosi to step down for years.
“I believe I’m doing the right thing for the party and for the country, and I’m always going to do that,” Moulton said. “People who know me know that about me. They may not always agree with my perspective on things, but they should know that I’ll always fight for what’s right, and I’m not just going to bend with the political winds.”
So, if it’s not personal and it’s not political, what are the initiatives Moulton believes a newer, younger and more diverse Congress should be tackling? At the top of his list is regulating the data-gathering abilities of companies like Google and Facebook.
"The Europeans are setting the rules for regulations of social media because we have a Congress that doesn’t even understand Facebook,” he said.
He also thinks new leadership would be more helpful in strengthening voting rights and tackling the economic consequences of factory automation. As a fairly fresh face in Congress himself, Moulton says re-electing the same people who have held leadership positions for over a decade sends the wrong message to the public, who he says are thirsty for change.
“We can’t be a party that is just about opposing Trump. We’ve got to be a party about new ideas, about tackling the issues of the day,” Moulton said. “The American people have said to us loud and clear that business as usual in Washington isn’t working, and it’s time for fresh ideas and a fresh approach.”
After failing to generate enough support for his campaign, and resigned to the fact that Pelosi will most likely be elected speaker of the House, Moulton said he would vote for Pelosi if she agreed to step down after one year and make room for new leadership.