POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Outgoing Congressman Holt: GOP Doesn’t Believe in Government

New Jersey will send its first woman to Congress in a dozen years and perhaps its first African-American woman ever. The race that will determine which is in the 12th Congressional District, where two women are vying for a congressional seat vacated by Democrat Rush Holt. Holt told NJTV News Senior Correspondent Mike Schneider that the Republicans in Congress don’t believe in government and they do not think that they can work together with the Democrats to help each other.

Holt said that he is not second guessing his decision to not seek reelection and he has not had any regrets since last February. He said that people should not expect their representative to be there for life and no representative should expect to be there for life.

Holt said he does not know yet what he will be doing after his term ends, but he does not intend to retire either. He said that his decision not to run again came from an understanding when he realized that someday he was going to leave and he wanted to leave under his own power and not be voted out. He said that made it a very easy thought process to figure out when. He said that he is pleased that he can leave the district constituents in good hands. He said there was a good primary to succeed him and he thinks there is a very good candidate in Bonnie Watson Coleman who will do a fine job as the representative of the 12th District.

Holt explained that he had worked on Capitol Hill in 20-year intervals. He said 20 years before he went to Congress, he had worked as a staff member of a Congressional Science Fellowship. He said 20 years before that he had been a messenger boy, so he had some familiarity with Congress and the procedures. He said that he followed politics and public policy his whole life, from seventh grade when he had a New York Times subscription. He said even though he is a scientist from his background and profession, he has always had an interest in how people get along and how governing works.

When asked what was the biggest change in the 16 years he was a representative, Holt said he thinks that people have their heels dug in on their party positions. He said he thinks there is a lot more intransigence on both sides.

“The fact that the House of Representatives has been doing nothing has to be the fault of the Republican leadership because this is a majority led body. If the Speaker of the House wanted to bring legislation to the floor, he could do it any time but he has chosen not that. That is why so few bills have been brought up for votes, so few bills pass, so few laws enacted,” said Holt. “If you ask what I am most proud of, and I see this now still as I call people on the phone or walk down the street, I’ve made some gains, I think, in restoring trust of people in their government. The cynicism about government is dangerously high and a self-governing country works only if you believe it does.”

Polls are indicating that there is a good chance that Republicans may capture control of the Senate. Holt said that he has served in the majority as well as the minority, and he has served with a Democratic president and a Republican president. He said that he preferred being in the majority but it is possible to get things done even with different arrangements. He said that he believes much more strongly in the Democratic program and the idea of increasing opportunity for all people, for the middle class, rather than some sort of trickled down economics that is intended to benefit the well-off and indirectly benefit everyone else. He said he also believe in open access to education.

Holt said there is a lot that he doesn’t like about what the Republicans are doing now and it is basically that they don’t believe in government and they do not think that everyone can take action to help each other.

“I don’t intend to retire. People say I am retiring from Congress. I try politely to correct them. I am stepping aside. I am not standing for another term. I care about politics, I feel this. I haven’t sworn off politics or elective office but I don’t see myself heading for that now. I don’t yet know what I will be doing in January but I am going to try to keep working on the kinds of things that I have worked on in Congress,” said Holt.