NEWTON – Fourth District Congressman-elect Jake Auchincloss, 32, of Newton, does not mince words when asked about President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election.
“Of course, I have concerns,” said Auchincloss in talking about the country’s 250-year history of a peaceful transfer of power. Auchincloss called it “frustrating.”
“He’s so infantile and narcissistic he cannot put country first,” said Auchincloss, calling Trump’s inability to accept the result in favor of President-elect Joseph Biden “reprehensible.”
“It undermines the American project,” said Auchincloss.
Auchincloss, a Newton city councilor, won a hotly contested primary in September, narrowly beating Jesse Mermell, a former member of the Brookline Select Board, with 22.4 percent of the vote to Mermell’s 21.1 percent, a difference of a little over 2,000 votes. And, on Nov. 3, Auchincloss, a Marine Corps veteran, beat his Republican challenger and retired Air Force Col. Julie Hall by 61 to 39 percent. When he is sworn in Jan. 3, he will fill the seat vacated by Joseph P. Kennedy III, who failed to unseat Senator Ed Markey in the Democratic primary in September.
Kennedy was preceded in office by Barney Frank, who, like Auchincloss, is Jewish.
On Monday, Auchincloss spoke about growing up in a Jewish family. He described himself as both engaged with Israel and pro-Israel.
His story, he says, is like that of many Jews in the Greater Boston area. His great-grandfather escaped the pogroms in Russia and settled in Chelsea. He was able to start a garment business and build a middle-class life.
His grandfather, the late Dr. Melvin Glimcher, joined the Marines in 1942, at a time when Jews were being exterminated in the Holocaust in Europe, Auchincloss said. His grandfather, who he described as a skinny Jewish kid, tried to enlist and fight in the South Pacific, but instead, the Marines saw something in him and sent him to Perdue University to study engineering.
“It changed his life,” Auchincloss said. He became a pioneer in prosthetic limbs and other advances in medicine. Jake Auchincloss’s mother, Dr. Laurie Glimcher, now serves as president and CEO of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
“It’s a story about what Jews can accomplish in a country that invests in them,” said Auchincloss who grew up in Newton, and who had his bar mitzvah in his backyard. In his personal statement on Israel on his campaign website, he says the Jewish community of Newton “reinforced my pride in my heritage and in Eretz Yisrael.”
Auchincloss attended Newton Public Schools and Harvard College.
After his freshman year in college, he traveled to Israel with a high school friend and her father, a Sabra who grew up on a kibbutz in the south of Israel. They toured the country and he saw the success of Israel firsthand.
Wanting to give back, he joined the Marines. He served in Helmand Province in Afghanistan in 2012 and in Panama with a reconnaissance unit in 2014. He said he understands the “dangerous neighborhood Israel is in.”
Returning home to work in cybersecurity gave him insight into the impactful relationship between the United States and Israel, which fostered the growth of this industry. He believes the security of Israel and the security of the United States is a relationship that is not to be broached.
“Because of my military service, I speak with conviction and credibility on the United States’ need for a stable, democratic partner in the Middle East, and I often do, even as a City Councilor in Newton,” he said in his personal statement. He said he has worked to combat anti-Semitism, including after the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
On the issue of the Trump administration’s moving the U.S. embassy to Israel before a final status of the city is determined, Auchincloss said he agrees with the move.
“Yes, I believe the capital is Jerusalem and the embassy should be in Jerusalem,” he said. But he was less than enthusiastic about the overall foreign policy of the Trump administration, saying “he’s just abandoned American moral leadership.” He added that the peace agreements with Sudan and the United Arab Emirates are a positive step.
“It is a promising way to unlock the gridlock in the Middle East right now,” Auchincloss said.
Auchincloss said Democrats have shown robust support for Israel and he called House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer “a top champion of Israel.”
In his personal statement, Auchincloss said he favored U.S. aid, including military aid, to the Middle East, to Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to increase stability and cooperation in the region, and foster security cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians and humanitarian aid in the West Bank.
He supports $3.8 billion in annual military aid to Israel outlined in the U.S. Israel Memorandum of Understanding that came about during the Obama administration. He favors a two-state solution, but one negotiated by both sides, not one imposed by an outside party. The U.S. should play an active role in promoting any peace process, he said.
Auchincloss opposes Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, something on which both parties agree. He backed the Iran nuclear deal, and says Trump should not have pulled out of it without a better plan.
“By the time a new Congress is seated, we will be less than two years away from the sunsetting of key provisions. Therefore, simply re-entering the old JCPOA may not be feasible, but the U.S. ought to prioritize diplomacy aimed at achieving an agreement with Iran,” he said in his statement.
Like many Jews, Auchincloss is concerned about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions or BDS movement and signs of anti-Semitism from some on the far left wing of the Democratic party.
“I am committed to fight against this,” he said. He said his stances in favor of social justice, advocating for women’s reproductive health, tackling climate change and banning assault weapons are in line with Jewish values.
“Jews have a longstanding commitment to improving a community’s welfare,” he said.
Auchincloss said he is a “big fan,” of 6th District U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Salem who grew in Marblehead, and looks forward to working with him. Their lives have similar trajectories. Both attended Harvard, both then served in the Marine Corps, and both have dedicated themselves to service.
“Jake exemplifies the new generation of leadership I have fought hard to bring to Congress, and I’m so proud to endorse him,” Moulton said in a statement before the election. “I know he will bring principles and leadership to Congress when he is elected, and I can’t wait to serve alongside him in Washington, fighting for the people of Massachusetts.”