Brian Golden is a Democratic state representative. Golden is also a supporter of George W. Bush. For Golden, the choice in this election is clear. In an interview with NRO editor Kathryn Lopez, Golden says, “I’ve watched [John Kerry] in elected office for 22 years and still don’t know what he stands for. That’s not the kind of person I have faith in as commander-in-chief.” For Golden, who recently joined other Catholic leaders in signing a letter protesting John Kerry’s peculiar interpretation of Catholicism, Kerry’s religious contortions are something for all voters to consider before voting on November 2–it’s a matter of character. Golden says, “Senator Kerry’s willingness to place political expedience before conscience is disturbing no matter what your faith.”
National Review Online: You’re a Democrat. Why are you going out of your way campaigning for President Bush?
Brian Golden: I started voting in Boston in 1983, just after John Kerry became lieutenant governor. I’ve watched him in elected office for 22 years and still don’t know what he stands for. That’s not the kind of person I have faith in as commander-in-chief. I’m doing what I think is best for the country, not any political party.
NRO: There’s a distinct difference between John F. Kerry’s approach on faith and public life and John F. Kennedy’s, isn’t there? Do people see that?
Rep. Golden: If you look at it objectively you can see a profound difference. When John Kennedy spoke to people about his religion, he was essentially saying, “I’m a Catholic, but don’t hold it against me.” John Kerry essentially says, “I’m a Catholic, but don’t hold me to it.”
It’s one thing if you don’t believe that human life begins at conception. However, John Kerry admits he believes that life begins at conception but won’t do anything to protect it in law. How does he square his conscience with his official antipathy to all legislation protecting human life? John Kennedy said that “if the time should ever come…when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do likewise.” Can you imagine that coming from John Kerry? Senator Kerry’s willingness to place political expedience before conscience is disturbing no matter what your faith.
NRO: How much does the fact that you’re Catholic play into your legislative life?
Rep. Golden: My Catholicism was a significant factor in my decision to enter public life and it certainly plays a role in the way I approach public policy. The Catholic Church insists that respect for the human person should be at the center of political decision-making. That respect is manifest, first and foremost, in the protection of innocent, vulnerable human life. I take that as a non-negotiable foundation of my political worldview and I build on it.
Where would we be without the strong voice of churches informing our choices? African-American churches, mainstream Protestant denominations, Catholics, and Jewish congregations all changed America for the better during the civil-rights struggle. They play a key role in the development of a just society.
NRO: You’re in a position that can’t make you too popular among Boston Democrats. How does a Bush-supporting Democrat who opposed the Massachusetts supreme court’s gay-marriage decision and who is against abortion survive in the commonwealth of John Kerry and Ted Kennedy?
Rep. Golden: It may be counterintuitive, but I didn’t run for office because I needed to be popular. I have to do this job on my own terms. I ran because I wanted to do what I thought was right. I have consistently, and sometimes painfully, been true to my conscience in a district that is often to the left of me. The nice part of this is that the people of my district haven’t expected me to sacrifice my core beliefs. I’ve won a total of four Democratic primaries, two of them after I endorsed George Bush in 2000.
NRO: Why are you a Democrat and not a Republican? Do you think folks like yourself have a home in your party for much longer?
Rep. Golden: There are many cultural and substantive reasons why I have remained a Democrat. I’m the product of Irish-immigrant grandparents; my dad was a police officer. For decades, the Democratic party spoke to the concerns of people who had working-class upbringings like mine. In terms of cultural values, economic justice and organized labor, and a strong defense, the Democratic party was a comfortable place. It produced people like Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey as recently as the 1990s. He was a giant in my eyes. But people like Governor Casey are rarities now in the Democratic party. If the party doesn’t do some soul-searching about its more extreme positions, it will continue to lose members and elections.
NRO: On the war, is the choice between Kerry and Bush a black and white one, despite the post-Iraq-ground-war problems?
Rep. Golden: I’ve been in the Army for a total of eleven years, including three years on active duty in the 1990s. I’ve been back on active duty for almost twelve months since 9/11, and I have a brother in Afghanistan for most of this year. It’s clear to me that the role of commander-in-chief is the president’s most important responsibility.
Sen. Kerry has been incomprehensible on the war. The American people and our troops overseas need a leader with a strong voice and clarity of purpose. We have that in President Bush; we have little but demagoguery from the other side.
NRO: You’re an Army man. Do you think that the DNC’s draft talk an effective strategy? Does it get people worried?
Rep. Golden: People understand that the all-volunteer military is a good thing. People who choose to join are more effective, more disciplined soldiers than those forced to join. The all-volunteer military served us well throughout the Cold War, and I don’t think people really believe we’re going back to a draft. We probably need to bolster our recruiting efforts, but most recognize the draft talk as pure politics.
NRO: You have been campaigning for Bush–including with the First Lady last week in New England. What are voters saying on the trail? Anything that particular surprised you?
Rep. Golden: The most surprising thing was the overwhelming number of young people present at a rally I attended with the president. I saw polls recently showing the president performing well with 18-29-year-olds; that certainly seems to be true from my experience.
NRO: In a nutshell, what’s the best bipartisan case for George Bush and against John Kerry?
Rep. Golden: After our darkest of days, George Bush developed and carried out a plan that has kept the American people safe. Think about it. After 9/11, with the United States’ large porous borders, most people believed that acts of terror would become a sporadic part of life here at home. However, for three years, the president and his team have kept the homeland safe. That is an accomplishment that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents can respect.