Flint Hill Students Interview Congressman Connolly

By Abi Baker , Staff Writer

On January 14th, a week following the unrest in the Capitol and the day of Mr. Trump’s second impeachment, Flint Hill students spoke with Congressman Connolly before his speech on the House floor. Prior to becoming an elected official, the Congressman served on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, including serving for five years as Chairman of that board. 

 

Members of the Young Democrats and March For Our Lives Clubs talked with the Congressman over the phone about bipartisanship, gun reform, climate change, and the nation’s overall state. Representative Connolly, of Virginia’s 11th district, was on the House floor during the breach and believed that he came within seconds of a major catastrophe. Connolly argues that the cause of the insurrection was “the culmination of a process of social networking, propaganda, and conspiracy theories,” and his District Director, Marlon Dubuisson, says it was “a perfect storm for disaster.”

 

The insurrection’s societal and political effects will have left a mark on our democracy for years to come. According to Connolly, the domestic terrorism and coup attempt is proof that “we are dealing with a violent extremist element in our country” and is an element that is “embedded in parts of the police force and parts of the military and that is very dangerous to the continuation of our constitutional democracy.” Despite the horrors and tragedy on January 6th, Connolly is more determined than ever to reunite the nation under the Biden administration. He strives to promote equal rights, gender equality, and racial justice, which he believes “aren’t radical liberal values” but “American values.”

 

Regarding gun reform, the Congressman hopes to pass strict legislation because “we’ve put up with mass shootings and it’s got to stop.” Examples of reform include:

  • Implementing more background checks.
  • Closing the gun show loophole.
  • Reinstating the assault weapons ban.

Connolly uses the attack on the Capitol as reason enough to improve gun reform, “this is an issue of public safety” because now there are “armed militias running around with impunity in the Capitol.” 

 

After already having worked with President Biden for ten years, the Congressman is eager to begin working on achieving Biden’s climate change agenda. Rep. Connolly is also co-Chairman of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Caucus and expects a “new day to dawn on environments” by working to “reverse the worse aspects of climate change.” Most importantly, he knows Biden will listen to science when it comes to climate change. 

 

AP U.S. History teacher, Elizabeth Anderson, was on the call and was impressed that Rep. Connolly took the time to speak with the students, given the historic day’s nature. “He spoke passionately, honestly and he spoke to the students as the intelligent, informed young adults that they are, rather than treating them like school children.” 

 

When I asked the Congressman about bipartisanship in a post Trump era and what it will mean for future generations, his answer was simple. “I won’t sugar coat it, I think it’s going to be much more difficult to achieve bipartisanship at any meaningful level given the behavior of my Republican colleagues,” however, “we are playing the long game.” Rep. Connolly is experienced and has “lived to see values change,” which gives him hope. He ended the call with sentiments of optimism, emphasizing that “if we can change this country, we can make it better.”