Exeter Summer students got a lesson in grass-roots politics, American-style, when a representative of Chris Pappas, a member of the Executive Council of New Hampshire and Democratic candidate for Congress visited the school last week. The event was arranged by Jackie Weatherspoon, Access Exeter advisor and a former aide to Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Pappas’s political director, Soham Pandit, promoted the candidate’s policies as he is currently running for the U.S. House of Representatives. This meeting touched on a host of relevant and imperative issues including gun control, foreign policy, immigration, planned parenthood and healthcare.

“We are all impacted by politics one way or another so it is so encouraging to see that so many students are interested by this.” Mr.  Pandit said at the event in the basement of the Academy Center.

Chris Pappas, born and raised in New Hampshire, is an active member of the state’s Democratic party. At the mere age of 22, he ran for the state legislature and won.

The discussion was extremely engaging, especially when considering the current political tension that has enveloped the United States. One of the extremely prevalent issues discussed was gun control. Mr. Pappas is a staunch supporter of red flag gun laws, which allow authorities to temporarily take away guns from a person who has shown a pattern of violence. He also supports banning assault weapons and bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic firearms to mimic the firing speed of fully automatic weapons. Furthermore, he calls for stricter background checks for the purchase of guns, with an elongated waiting period.

The discussion of gun violence led to a conversation about police brutality in the United States. Mr. Pappas believes that this issue must be addressed directly from the foundation itself. This involves better police training and hiring the correct people to guarantee that there is no initial bias.

On immigration, Mr. Pandit said Mr. Pappas believes that President Trump must be held accountable for his actions and should be stopped  from monopolizing power. He is a staunch supporter of the statement that every immigrant (legal or illegal) deserves a right to citizenship.

“We need to build bridges not borders.” Mr. Pandit said.

As for foreign policy, Mr. Pappas was said to believe in diplomacy, to guarantee that American values are represented internationally, instead of military action. He favors investing in humanitarian issues to grow local economies and says safety is key to building sustainable societies in unstable regions.

One of the issues that Mr. Pappas passionately advocates is expanding Medicaid to more Americans and businesses in the United States. In 2014, he played a vital role in expanding Medicaid to 50,000 low-income residents in New Hampshire and this legislation unlocked $2.5 billion in federal funds for Medicaid expansion.

Additionally, Mr. Pappas has continuously fought against attempts to defund Planned Parenthood.  In 2016, he successfully worked to restore full funding for women’s healthcare services, birth control and cancer screenings, which improved the wellbeing of thousands of women across New Hampshire. His support of women was further advanced through his support of the repeal of the Global Gag Rule so that organizations can provide family planning services to women around the world.