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Markey Urges Students to Stay Active After March for Our Lives

U.S. Senator Ed Markey, BC ’68 and BC Law ’72, spoke Sunday afternoon in Devlin 008, a day after joining other politicians in the March for Our Lives. The College Democrats of Boston College hosted the event.

Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller introduced Markey and was joined by Ruth Balser, who represents the 12th Middlesex District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. In her opening remarks, Fuller encouraged the audience members to embrace their role as change makers going forward.

“You’re seeing the local level, the state level, and the national level, and there are ways to get involved in all three and bring your passion to whichever idea or issues means a lot to you,” she said. “What the last three months have shown is that in fact we need to be listening to you and following in your footsteps.”

Video by Emerson DeBasio / Multimedia Editor

When Markey began speaking, he first recalled his seven years at Boston College, which started with Sister Therese Donovan’s Introduction to Western Civilization class in the very room he was speaking in—Devlin 008. He credited her course for teaching him about being on the right side of history, even if it took a long time to work out. He pointed to the March for Our Lives movement as the embodiment of such persistence.

“The NRA really thought that they controlled the Republican House and Senate and Presidency with a vice-like grip. And they have,” Markey said. “However, over time, inextricably, inevitably, the turning point is reached. And it is now young people telling adults that they are fed up.”

He believes that the movement now lies within the political system, but that the efforts cannot stop there. He urged students to become a politically active in the 2018 midterms through sustained pressure on elected officials, pointing outside to the volunteers helping students register to vote just outside.

“People kind of doubt millennials and below politically,” Markey said. “Are they actually going to turn the cognitive into the operational? It’s one thing being on campus. It’s another thing to be off the campus, doing what you know has to be done in order to make democracy work.”

Video by Emerson DeBasio / Multimedia Editor

He compared today’s college environment to his own, when students came together to discuss issues like the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, feminism in the ’60s and ’70s, and the start of environment activism. He remembered seeing these topics evolve from conversations in the cafeteria to national issues.

“Every one of these issues pretty much didn’t exist on my first day in college and were full-blown debates in America,” he said.

He then moved to challenge President Donald Trump on climate change and his administration’s apparent disregard for science, offering a warning against allowing the United States to step back from such a pressing international issue. He argued that the country must engage in preventative care, employing wind and solar energy, electric vehicles, and other methods of energy conservation to prevent the planet from overheating.

“As we all know here, the planet is dangerously warming—the planet is running a fever,” Markey said. “There are no emergency rooms for planets.”

Video by Emerson DeBasio / Multimedia Editor

He cited Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, as emblematic of the administration’s problematic approach. Pruitt, in his former position of Attorney General of Oklahoma, sued the agency over environmental regulations 14 times.

“In his confirmation hearing, I said to him, ‘Will you recuse yourself from any of the decisions which are related to the cases you brought against the EPA?” Markey said. “‘And then he said to me, in the hearing, ‘No.’ So I said to him, ‘Well that would make you the plaintiff, the defendant, the judge, and the jury, with the decision already being predetermined.’”

Expanding on his plans in the Senate, Markey laid out his goals for the upcoming Secretary of State confirmation hearings of now-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who many on the left see as a potential warhawk.

“We’re going to have to work very hard, and I’m going to be cross-examining him in the confirmation hearing,” he said. “So we can absolutely get on the record what his views are going to be in terms of a preemptive nuclear strike against North Korea, a preemptive nuclear strike against Iran, knowing that the consequences are going to be catastrophic.”

One of the biggest reactions from the crowd came after Markey laid out his plans to protect net neutrality, which was recently repealed by Trump’s FCC.

He explained that he introduced the resolution to overturn Trump’s decision, which the Senate will likely vote on in the next four or five weeks. He said this would ensure that every senator is put on record to ensure that Americans know where their respective senators stand on the issue of net neutrality.

Markey also called on young voters to stop discrimination, whether it comes in the form of action against climate scientists at the EPA or civil injustices.

“What Donald Trump has decided to do is to reintroduce every one of these issues that we thought was settled,” Markey said. “So that means it’s your generational challenge to do something about it to protect the country.”

He explained that part of the reason the March for Our Lives was so powerful was that it focused entirely on the next generation of leaders.

“I marched for three and a half hours yesterday,” Markey said. “Elizabeth Warren and I are the two senators from Massachusetts, we have the two votes, and I didn’t give a speech yesterday. I didn’t say a word because it was the young people and teachers that were given the leadership.”

Markey finished his discussion by expressing pride at BC’s progress socially since his enrollment—a time when the University wouldn’t allow women to be political science majors.

In the same breath, he emphasized the danger of complacency among the student body.

“Like a baton, it keeps getting passed on, generation after generation,” he said. “What you have to do is try to help to lift the gaze of everyone to the constellation of possibilities for themselves, for their families, for our country, and for the nation.”

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Staff

March 25, 2018