As he prepared to turn over leadership of New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District to successor and fellow Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman, Rush Holt said he believes Congress has a lot to do.
“The last four years has been a process of great inactivity,” Holt said. “Congress just hasn’t done much. Throughout history, this country has improved because government has taken action.”
First of all, Holt said, he believes the intelligence community has been operating without significant control or oversight, and is overdue for major reform. He also said that Obamacare needs to go farther toward a single-payer system, and that No Child Left Behind needs some serious reform as well.
For all that, he doesn’t have much in the way of advice for Watson Coleman, just because he’s confident in her ability to do the right thing without any input from him.
But if there’s one piece of advice he could give her, it’s this:
“Listen to the people of New Jersey in your district, because there’s a great deal of wisdom there,” he said.
As for Holt himself, he said he’s generally satisfied with the job he did in that post since 1999. He said that the role of a Congressional representative is basically two-fold — dealing with large-scale legislation, but also helping individual constituents navigate the system and get things accomplished.
So he considers contributing to large-scale legislation dealing with issues such as environmental protection and access to health care to be among his accomplishments. But he’s also pleased with individual cases where he helped people straighten out problems with immigration or health care, which may not draw a lot of attention but mean a lot to the individuals affected.
Beyond that, he likes to think that he helped refute the idea that government is an inherently bad thing.
“Right now, we’re going through a phase of dangerous cynicism about our ability to govern ourselves as a country,” he said. “That’s a problem. And I think I’ve had some success at beating that back.”
Related: Departing Congressman Rush Holt to become CEO of American Association for the Advancement of Science
This post is part of our South Jersey Politics Blog