Ret. Congressman Barney Frank Screens Documentary and Talks Politics During UMass Dartmouth Visit
Retired U.S. Representative Barney Frank is no stranger to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus, often paying a visit to speak with students or groups of the public.
Tuesday was no different, as Frank lectured to two political science classes then took part in a screening of his own documentary Compared to What? The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank.
After the film, Frank answered questions from some of the 50 or so attendees at the Claire T. Carney Library, mostly about his thoughts on the current presidential race.
The former congressman was not afraid to show his support of former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, while praising Sen. Bernie Sanders for his progressive thinking. He said many of the students he encountered during Tuesday's visit were strong Sanders supports.
He said he was happy to see them involved, but wants to make sure they're engaged for more substantive reasons.
"It's not that they're the wrong reasons, there aren't enough reasons. They're not getting involved enough," said Frank. "They're getting involved only to support one candidate. Supporting one candidate is the first step but it's not enough. You've got to learn more about the process."
Other questions about the race included what the congressman thought it would take to get people more engaged and trustworthy of federal government.
He said military spending must be cut and those funds need to go toward improving the nation's public infrastructure.
Affordable housing and a medical focus on drug addiction were also important issues he plans to continue to be involved with.
As an openly gay legislator, Frank led the charge multiple times for equality among the LGBT community. In response to current pro-transgender legislation pending on the state level, the congressman was asked his thoughts on Gov. Charlie Baker's unwillingness to take a side. Frank said he believes the governor does support the measure, but is walking a fine party line.
"I think he is inclined to be supportive on the merits, but intimidated by the right wing in his party," said Frank. "I think he's worried about a primary challenge."
Above all else, he said progress is possible, though advocates can't ease up once things begin to change.
"Never admit that things have gotten better, because that will take the pressure off people to keep improving," Frank said.