Delaware Senator Chris Coons visits Rowan to speak about citizenship in the 21st century

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Delaware Senator Chris Coons visited Rowan to speak to both students and Glassboro residents - News Editor / Alexander Heller

Following an exciting year of influential political speakers, Rowan Institute for Public Policy & Citizenship (RIPPAC) starts 2019 with Democratic Senator Chris Coons.

Very few people are at the forefront of the nation’s most significant issues, like Delaware’s Democratic Senator. He sits on the Appropriations, Judiciary, Foreign Relations, small businesses/Entrepreneurship, and the Ethics committees. 

Senator Coons flew in from New Hampshire to present Glassboro his discourse: “The Challenges of Citizenship in the 21st century”. He asked the room filled with students, faculty and alumni a hefty question; to think about what it means to be a citizen of a democratic state. He shared his personal history with local politics and how it helped him understand the challenges of answering this question. 

“To some people,” Coons said.,“my ascendency to the United States Senate, from a relatively obscure county post, strikes them as stunning.” 

The Senator points out that his political career parallels former Vice President Joe Biden’s almost exactly. The only difference is Biden served as a county councilman while Senator Coons was a county Executive. 

“I am the first county executive in the history of Delaware to go to anything other than obscurity…or jail,” he said, followed by a laughing audience. What he learned in local politics was the strength of citizenship. Mainly how bipartisan relationships go with it,.He argues that there is no Democrat or Republican way to fix “sewer systems.”

Bipartisan relationships were at the core of his belief of citizenship the senator said that out of his 52 co-sponsored bills, over 40 have bipartisan support. He completed his lecture with a challenge: can we redefine citizenship in a way that makes it robust and meaningful in the 21st century? 

The audience got the chance to ask the senator questions about anything. It didn’t take long until a student asked if impeachment would rally the right-wing base in favor of Trump’s re-election.

Senator Coons sits on the judiciary committee of the Senate, which means he would be a juror on the President’s impeachment. Senator Coons prefaced his answer by saying that he believes the House’s actions are appropriate given recent public information regarding Trump’s phone call. The one where he asked the President of Ukraine to investigate corruption surrounding the Bidens. 

“If presented to the Senate,” he said, “my job is to way rather not the offense charges rise to the level of an impeachable offense, and if so, whether or not the facts presented justify a conviction in those terms.” 

Based on historical patterns, the senator deduces that the odds of Trump’s removal from office is minuscule. However, he goes on to criticize the President’s recent actions: “I have been really struck by the development in the last week.”

He referenced when President Trump told reporters on Oct. 3 that China should start an investigation into the Bidens. 

“Do I think that wall will enrage and mobilize his core support? Absolutely!” Coons said. “My concern is that those engaged in the impeachment inquiry need to conduct themselves in a way that is focused and accessible to the average citizen. Less about partisanship and the election and frankly that it will be brief.” 

Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, Dean of the School of Earth and Environment, asked Senator Coons if the Senate is becoming unified on climate change and if politics can be put aside to combat it. The Senator brought up his education in chemistry and how that gave him a different outlook than some of his colleagues, especially on climate change. 

“I think climate change is real, humans cause it, and that we must respond to it,” he said. “There is not yet a majority in the other Caucus that would agree with those three.” 

However, the Senator sees reasons to be optimistic. He shines a light on the fact that many influential people on both sides of the aisle have shared support for a carbon tax. Senator Coons also said the fact that most young Americans believe in climate change means that politicians will listen.

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