By Justin Rimpi
NEWARK — Former United States Secretary of State John Kerry, 2013-2017, is still an optimist, even after everything he has seen over the past three years during the presidency of Donald Trump.
Secretary Kerry spoke at New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Oct. 10, 2019, to kick off the sixth season of the New Jersey Speakers Series presented by Fairleigh Dickinson University. He was introduced by FDU President Christopher Capuano, who said the speakers in the series “have not only transformed lives but who have changed the world.”
After 28 years as U.S. Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2004, he believes in the three co-equal branches of government, and they have the power to get the country out of what he considers to be a crisis.
“All it takes is one election to change the dialogue, and to change the direction of the country,” Kerry said.
Secretary Kerry spoke for approximately 45 minutes before answering questions submitted by the audience. The discussion was moderated by Steve Scott, an anchor for WCBS Radio, in New York City.
The questions posed for the former secretary ranged from the impeachment of Trump, the Iran nuclear deal, the pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, and the need for Americans to be more politically informed and to vote in the 2020 election.
“Climate Change is the greatest existential threat that we face on the planet today … It also can provide the greatest economic opportunity in the history of the world,” Kerry said.
He also referred to the 1970s and the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard M. Nixon. He said in 2020 all of the scandals must become a voting issue for the public.
“The rules of government have not changed; the people have changed,” Kerry said. “Change the people. That is the only thing that will make a difference.”
When he represented the state of Massachusetts in the United States Senate, he spoke out against the lack of bipartisanship in the chamber. He said that representatives are now more concerned with a primary than a general election and are being held hostage by the party leadership if they do not toe the party line.
“We have to get the money out of politics,” Kerry said.
He said bipartisanship is an important way to get this country back on the right path.
While both Kerry’s speech and answers to the questions posed had a very serious tone, Secretary Kerry said now is not the time to panic.
Kerry said the innovative spirit of America must be rekindled — as was the case under President John F. Kennedy when he set out to put Americans on the moon.
The former senator said there is nothing the people of the United States cannot accomplish if they set their mind to it.
He is confident in the American spirit, and believes President Trump and his policies will just be a blip on the radar for “The Great Experiment,” known as the United States of America, he said.