Former Representatives Discuss Political Careers and American Unity

Back to All Stories

On Feb 26, former congressmen Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) and John Faso (R-N.Y.) joined Colgate students in the Golden Auditorium for an honest dialogue about the representatives’ careers on Capitol Hill and their stances on several key issues.

Ellie Markwick ’24, a student majoring in international relations and peace and conflict studies, moderated the panel, which was organized by the Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE) and co-sponsored by the Colgate Vote Project and Democracy Matters. 

The panel began with Capuano describing his time in office (1998–2019) as an advocate for progressive causes such as affordable housing, transportation infrastructure, and environmental protection. Capuano was involved in key legislation such as the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. 

“In politics, you’re just not going to agree on every single issue, so politics should be the art of the possible,” Capuano said. “Take healthcare, for instance — I don’t want to say no to 20 million people just because we couldn’t secure a program for 30 million. But those other 10 million, we’re still fighting for them. We’ll get them next time.” 

During Faso’s term in the U.S. House of Representatives (2017–19), his priorities included fiscal responsibility, advocating for lower taxes, and reduced government spending. At the panel, he offered his continued support for these causes: 

“Financially, I think the biggest issue we [the United States] are currently facing is our fiscal imbalance — that is really going to threaten our ability to accomplish certain things because we’re in so much debt,” Faso said. 

Considering future generations, Faso asked the students in the audience to think carefully about how they’re developing their political perspectives. “As college students, you’re in this unique time period, these four years, before you go out into the real world,” he said. “In terms of political issues, my advice is not to silo yourself to only sources you agree with. Challenge yourself to listen, watch, and read about other viewpoints.” 

Capuano agreed that a hopeful, united future in American politics can be brought about by a public that is engaged in conversation.

“To me, the most interesting work in politics is talking to people with different perspectives and really trying to learn from them,” Capuano said. “A lot of people don’t do that. It’s hard work, but it opens doors.”