Former Governor Michael Dukakis Visits Clark University

Malcolm Jacob, Contributing Writer

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Though he was only a few minutes behind schedule, the guest speaker stepped into the room and expressed his feelings on late-day traffic: “Next time, and from this point on, I’m taking the train.”

The audience received plenty of jokes from the former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis (who kept a sense of humor throughout his visit), but were also given some insight into the world of politics and government.

The governor visited Clark University on Thursday, September 26. The event was organized through a joint effort by the school’s Political Science department and the Democrats of Clark University. The talk was an opportunity for students to hear from a veteran politician and also ask him some questions.

The son of Greek immigrants, Michael Dukakis grew up in the town of Brookline, Massachusetts and has been involved with his community from a young age. One of his earliest accomplishments he mentioned was running the Boston Marathon as a high schooler. He completed military service in Korea, and upon returning, received his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School.

After serving in his home state’s House of Representatives, Dukakis was elected Governor of Massachusetts in 1974. He served this position for a total of three terms, and he even made a memorable run for President during the 1988 campaign. The governor stated that he had been interested in politics since the third grade, when he decided to enter the race for class president.

He had plenty of advice to share with his young audience. For example, he wanted the students to know that respecting others and refraining from petty arguments are key for anyone in the public eye.

“The important thing, folks, is to try to keep it positive,” he said, reflecting on recent disputes between candidates involved in the 2020 presidential campaign. “If any of you are thinking of running for office, especially in a multi-party system like ours, you gotta keep it positive.”

Dukakis added that Americans make the mistake of looking at the electoral system in terms of political allegiance. He said that with enough effort, any state can be won regardless of how its people have voted in the past. “It shouldn’t be viewed as red and blue states,” he declared. “Every state is a battleground state.”

Both the governor and his wife Kitty Dukakis have reputations as active members of the community. Michael has been seen riding the T-train in Boston many times over the years, and has a solid understanding of what can be done to improve public transportation in Massachusetts. His wife Kitty has put a great deal of effort into raising awareness of mental health and combating the stigma surrounding it.

Dukakis also continues to educate young people through his work as a professor. He teaches political science at Northeastern University, and during the winter he lives in California, where he teaches at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA.

One of the points that the governor wanted to leave the audience with is that politics is not always a corrupt system. Many of the people involved want to have a positive impact on their communities, and that alone is more rewarding than any amount of money.

“To be in a position where you can make a difference in the lives of others, that’s something special,” he said.

Whether the students in attendance plan to go into politics or any other field, there is plenty of wisdom that they can take away from Michael Dukakis’ visit.