Rep. Joseph Crowley, 55, a New York Democrat and the House Democratic Caucus chairman, talks about the appetite for political engagement, advice for young people getting into politics and all the books he has been reading.
Q: What about this Congress so far is different from what you’ve seen in the past?
A: We Democrats have always fought for what we believe in. What’s different right now is I get a sense that the general population is starting to really believe in those issues, too. That helps bring me through what’s really been kind of a dark, dark year for me and, I think, for many of my constituents. That’s the nuance. I get the sense that there’s more of an appetite for politics and for engagement and not less, which is good for our country.
Q: As caucus chairman, what have you learned about the Democratic Party since the 2016 election?
A: I’ve always marveled at the level of dedication, but the sincerity of it is off the charts for me now, and the passion that people bring to their work. What I’ve really noticed is just how much passion my colleagues bring to their work. That’s something I’m really impressed with. The work ethic, too.
Q: You’re a huge fan of music. What’s currently on the radio that you like?
A: Oh my gosh! I like the Killers, I think that just overall, their stuff is good. I have kids, and my kids listen to music, too. Believe it or not, I like Harry Styles, and I’m really impressed with Niall Horan. His album is a really, really good album. I really like it a lot. I just generally like music.
Q: As someone who went into politics at age 24, what advice would you give to a young 20-something who wants to run for public office?
A: That public office is about serving — it’s not about you, it’s about what you do for others. I’ve always said that I’m involved in politics to make friends and not to make enemies. Politics is about helping people — not self-aggrandizement and not filling your own pocket, but helping fulfill the dreams of other people.
Q: What’s something about yourself that your caucus might not know?
A: I think they know that I like music. I don’t think they know that I can write songs and music.
Last book read: I’m in the midst of reading “Gotham.” I just bought “Mosby’s Rangers.” “Dream City,” “The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest.” A really great book I just finished was “Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom.” I have “Fire and Fury,” I kind of started but haven’t gone through it.
Pet peeve: People who leave water on the bottom of their bottle. [My kids] do it with soda or water. I go picking them up, “Who didn’t finish their water?”
Cats or dogs: We only have a cat. I like both, though.
If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead: Abraham Lincoln.
Closest friend across the aisle: Rep. Kevin Brady is probably the person I work with most.
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