Conversing with a congressman

Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R) spoke to the LM Conservative Club and other interested students about bipartisanship, Ukraine, diversity of thought, and more.

Representative Brian Fitzpatrick fielded questions from students about his policies and views. | Photos by Aiko Palaypayon ’23/Staff

On April 18, the newly established LM Conservative Club welcomed Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R) to speak to club members and interested students about various topics, ranging from bipartisanship to the Ukraine conflict. Fitzpatrick had a lot to say about the importance of diversity in our discussions of political issues, especially amongst our generation. He used an analogous example from his time in the FBI, a kidnapping case, where bringing people of all different disciplinary backgrounds to the same table helped the law enforcement team gain productive insight into the scope of the issue and how best to address it. He championed diversity of thought in particular, reiterating the mantra that such was a “strength to be harnessed, not a weakness to be criticized.”

Fitzpatrick also recounted stories of his time on the Hill, which ranged from disillusioning to reassuring. He imparted an important lesson through one anecdote, in which he recalled a colleague who initially agreed with a policy and sought to support it until he discovered who’d drafted and sponsored it. Why? “Because I don’t like that guy,” said Fitzpatrick, reciting what he’d been told by the obstinate congressperson. In regards to this pervasive pathogen of polarizing partisanship and intense divisiveness, Fitzpatrick shared: “that’s what children do, that’s not what leaders do.”

Additionally, Fitzpatrick referenced an infrastructure bill that he authored in conjunction with West Virginian Senator Joe Manchin (D), who throughout recent weeks has come under tremendous fire from both the left and the right for his refusal to support the Biden administration’s Build Back Better bill. Fitzpatrick praised Manchin for his bipartisanship and decisiveness
in ensuring that their bill successfully passed in both congressional houses.

 In the wake of the Ukrainian crisis and the “global attack on democracy.” Fitzpatrick repeated fierce pro-democratic and patriotic sentiment. “We all love our country, we all want to sustain it…our country is the best in the world, that’s why everyone wants to come here.” Club co-founder Jack Shapiro ’22 asked the Representative about the distinctions between the “humanitarian” no-fly-zone Fitzpatrick advocated for and the typical NATO no-fly-zone. Fitzpatrick stated that his “humanitarian” no-fly-zone would call on the U.S. government and other NATO nations to supply Ukraine with the necessary weapon reinforcements that President Zelenskyy requested to institute and enforce their own no-fly-zone without requiring NATO boots on the ground. Senior and club co-founder Henry Bard raised questions surrounding the threat Rep Fitzpatrick believed China posed to Taiwan and how the country could settle that impending crisis; Fitzpatrick’s response was similar to his previous answer: weapons aid and defensive reinforcement.

The meeting was well attended, though demographically some hold concerns. Some attendees felt that those present didn’t adequately represent the  diversity present at LM; the very diversity Fitzpatrick championed. Following this meeting, many Aces hope that the Conservative Club holds true to their goals of promoting diversity of thought and creating space for ideological differences.

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