Former governor discusses success

By Hannah Bucklin

“Become involved, make a difference.” That was the essence of the speech given by former governor of Massachusetts Michael Dukakis, who addressed a packed Institute of Peace and Justice.

Dukakis was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he claimed to have been “infected by politics and the Red Sox.” His road to the governor’s office began when he was a member of his student council, part of the armed forces and a law school student. He quickly learned that his love for public policy was greater than his taste for the law. He said that these realizations propelled him to a career in politics.

At the event, Dukakis began by giving some background of his political career. Dukakis began his career in Brookline, Mass. where, in 1962, he won a seat in the legislature.
During his talk, he said that what ignited his interest in politics was hearing discussion about equality but not seeing any in reality. He grew up during the Cold War, a time he described in terms of racial segregation and sexism. During this time, he became an advocate for racial and gender equality.

Dukakis challenged the student body to learn another language and to think seriously about public service. He stressed the seriousness of being involved with ethnic communities.

Born the son of Greek immigrants, Dukakis knows first-hand the negative implications of being of a different race. He said that at a young age he realized that he was living in the most open political country in the world, and that he wanted the opportunity to serve and make a change in his community. He referred to himself as “a guy with a funny name who wanted to serve.” His speech focused on the fact that he was young and ambitious and was able to make a difference, an opportunity that he said college students also have today.

At the beginning of his career, Dukakis took his ideas and rang every doorbell in Brookline until he was elected into the Massachusetts legislature. He continued this process until he was elected governor of Massachusetts, a post he held for 12 years.

The Boston Globe said that “throughout his career as Governor, both in good times and bad, Dukakis has never lost sight of the need to make every effort to focus government actions on those most in need.”

To further his efforts to make a change, Dukakis decided to run for President in 1988.

Dukakis won the democratic nomination for the presidency but was defeated by George H.W. Bush.

Despite this defeat, Dukakis continued to be a big political presence in Massachusetts, most notably by becoming a visiting lecturer at Northeastern University, where his talks to students focus on how getting involved in public service is key to entering politics. Dukakis now travels to many different schools across the United States, endorsing the power that students have to make a difference.
He continued by explaining that the country has come a long way since he was a student. In the 2012 election, according to the National Journal, Congress became the most racially and ethnically diverse in the nation’s history.

Dukakis stressed the importance of getting involved, being active and taking advantage of every opportunity in order to create a change. According to Dukakis, one of the ways students can do this is by learning another language.

With a father and mother who immigrated from Greece, Dukakis was forced to speak a second language throughout his childhood.

He said that learning two languages was a very important part of his development.

“Being bilingual is important as it allows you to get involved in racial communities,” Dukakis said.

Junior Asal Alipanah believes that this was a strong source of his future success.

“He was a very insightful man who comes from strong parents who I believe greatly influenced his success,” Alipanah said.

He elaborated on the importance of reaching out to ethnic groups by explaining that the Republican Party lost California in the most recent election due to the fact that they were not communicating with ethnic groups. Dukakis said that “politics is about service, politics is not about corruption.”

The talk encouraged the audience to begin to get involved now and to be a part of the ethnic change that is currently occurring in the United States. Even though he is approaching the age of 80, he said that does not plan on stopping in raising this awareness until someone tells him to.