Getting to know Jake Auchincloss as a dad and Marine veteran

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Standing with his wife Michelle, Jake Auchincloss declares victory in Massachusetts' 4th Congressional District on Election Night, Nov. 3, 2020. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Standing with his wife Michelle, Jake Auchincloss declares victory in Massachusetts' 4th Congressional District on Election Night, Nov. 3, 2020. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

You might know Jake Auchincloss as the representative of Massachusetts' 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House. But what happens when a public servant goes home? Auchincloss, a dad and Marine veteran, reflects on the last couple of years of his life and career.

Below are highlights from his conversation with Radio Boston host Tiziana Dearing, which has been lightly edited.

Interview Highlights

On being a dad, and how that influences his decisions in Washington

"I heard a priest once say that on [our] deathbeds, being a parent was the only job people ever cared about. It feels true to me. The kids make my job in Congress feel both bigger and smaller. Smaller in the sense that when I walk through the door, when I get back from the airport after a week in Washington — and sometimes it's been a frustrating week — it all kind of slides off because I'm playing pretend dinosaur with Teddy, or I'm putting braids in Grace's hair ... But at the same time, it does make the job feel bigger because so much of what we're wrestling with as a country right now — polarization, threats to our democracy, climate action, and clean energy investments — so much of it really is about the kind of world we want our kids to grow up in. And that feels alive and visceral to me every day."

On lessons learned while serving in the Marines

"During infantry officer's course, which is one of the last legs of training before you get deployed [as] an infantry officer, the captain that I respected most amongst our instructors, said, 'Gentlemen, you all know the tactics. We've made sure of that, but you are gonna be confronted with hard decisions for the rest of your career, decisions for which there's not gonna be a clear cut and dried. And the best advice I can give you is that when you're trying to decide between two things to do, the thing that's harder for you to do is usually the right thing.'  I have found that to be so true, that usually your gut tells you actually the right thing to do and you're trying to talk yourself out of it. And it's important to listen to your gut saying, 'You know, I already know what the right answer is, but it's harder.' It's either harder emotionally or it's harder physically ... but you know what the right answer is, and having that honest conversation with yourself has been such an important part of my maturation that the Marine Corps helped me with."

On how his Jewish faith helps him in Congress

"Being Jewish is an important part of who I am. It's not a clear line, but it does inform how I engage with politics because American politics is becoming increasingly religious ... and I mean that literally. A very nice statistic that  speaks to that is from a comparison from today to the 1950s. They asked people in the 1950s: Would you be upset if your child married a member of a different religion or not? It did — that bothered people because it was core to their sense of identity. Today, that's no longer the case. People have no issues, broadly speaking, with interfaith marriages. But the same question about different political party has gone in the opposite direction from the '50s to today. People clearly think about political party as core to who they are, and we have brought some of the same religious fervor into the political sphere where everything is all one thing or all another. People have zealotous beliefs, and we see that on the left and on the right.

"What's interesting about being a Jew in politics is that Jews are a people of the book. We have a dialectic tradition, which is to say a big and expansive comfort over the last 3,000 years of debating with one another through writing. There's no such thing as originalism; it is all about the context of the day, updated expert opinion, a back-and-forth. That is, I think, to a large extent, a major part of how I approach politics. I don't like the purity tests of either side ... We should be very cautious of the litmus tests and purity tests of who can be part of your political tribe, and how you define your political identity."

This segment aired on June 27, 2023.

Amanda Beland Producer/Director
Amanda Beland is a producer and director for Radio Boston. She also reports for the WBUR newsroom.


Tiziana Dearing Host, Radio Boston
Tiziana Dearing is the host of Radio Boston.



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