Al Gore Visits Monmouth County

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Al Gore Visits Monmouth County

Former Vice President Al Gore speaks to a Monmouth County crowd on Oct. 15

Former Vice President Al Gore speaks to a Monmouth County crowd on Oct. 15

Minh Connors

Former Vice President Al Gore speaks to a Monmouth County crowd on Oct. 15

Minh Connors

Minh Connors

Former Vice President Al Gore speaks to a Monmouth County crowd on Oct. 15

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 Several Brookdale students and professors attended a Monmouth County Democrats campaign rally on Sunday, Oct. 15, that included former Vice President Al Gore, gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, Congressman Frank Pallone, Senate Candidate Vin Gopal, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling and Assemblywoman Joann Downe.

Invited by the Monmouth County Democrats, political science Professor Jonathan Moschberger brought several students from the Brookdale Honors Program, his various political science courses and the History and Political Science Club.

“I thought this would be a great educational experience for all of us,’’ Moschberger said of the Ocean Township rally. “I have never seen a Vice President of the United States speak before, so it was a first for me, too! The students experienced politics in action. I suspect it’s something they will never forget.”

“I thought it was amazing that a former vice president was speaking in my town,” said Elyse Hazel, a 19-year-old social science major, who is also the president of Brookdale’s History and Political Science Club. The rest of the club’s board attended, as well.

Treasurer and 19-year-old education major Michael Doukas said, “I wanted to hear the former vice president’s opinion on political issues, especially climate change.”

New club officer and 19-year-old political science major Michael Trerotola, said, “I came here because I wanted to see the political process at work, and I’ve never been to a campaign rally before.”

Aside from the students, over 2,000 New Jersey residents filled the Ocean Township Community Gym to see Gore speak. Before his speech, the rally consisted of endorsements for Democratic candidates on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Vin Gopal, who is currently running for senator in New Jersey’s 11th district, spoke first. He began by criticizing his opponent, longtime Senator Jennifer Beck for “flip-flopping on nearly every issue, from women’s health care, to marriage equality, to the cancellation of the yard tunnel.”

Gopal endorsed gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy and criticized his opponent, current Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, saying that, “After eight years of being Chris Christie’s right-hand sidekick, she has no excuses.”

Gopal cited Guadagno’s silence during the Bridgegate situation and cancellation of women’s healthcare funding as prime examples of her inaction while in office.

Congressman Frank Pallone, representative for New Jersey’s 6th district, spoke next. He began with, “There was a time when New Jersey was the leader on environmental issues, housing issues, and education issues. The problem is, in the last eight years, under Governor Christie and Lieutenant Governor Guadagno, that has changed.”

Pallone criticized both for “going along with a right-wing agenda” that aligns with President Trump. He expressed his confidence in Murphy’s ability to make New Jersey, “the progressive state” and bring it to the forefront of issues once again. Pallone also discussed Al Gore’s contributions to New Jersey, specifically Gore’s legislative help to remove the mud dump site in Sea Bright in 1997.

After an introduction from Tammy Murphy, his wife and a committed environmental activist, Phil Murphy outlined his campaign. Murphy advocated for a criminal justice reform, fully funding Planned Parenthood, gun safety laws, $15 minimum wage and college affordability. Murphy proposed the idea of free community college. He additionally stressed the need for civil and inclusive leadership within New Jersey government. Murphy said one of his core focuses is “building a stronger and fairer economy which includes everyone.”

Finally, the former Vice President, Al Gore spoke. Gore shared the same sentiment as Gopal, Pallone and Murphy regarding Governor Christie’s last four years in office and the current presidential administration.

Gore referenced W.B. Yeats poem, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” Gore paralleled “the worst” with hate-groups and he paralleled “the best” with those who are passive and excuse the actions of these hate groups.

“For example, you look at all those men with torches marching in Charlottesville, spewing hateful rhetoric…and you think the worst are full of passionate intensity,” Gore said. “It seems as if it’s time for the good and decent people who know how we can hold our country together, to make progress again, to start fighting, and voting, and talking, and winning elections. And you wonder, is it going to happen? Because sometimes, it seems the best lack conviction.” Gore emphasized the importance of not just caring about politics, but also taking action to evoke change (specifically through voting).

Gore then discussed the issue of climate change and its validity. He pointed to a lack of disaster relief in Puerto Rico and attributed the extreme devastation of Sandy, Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Jose to the effects of climate change.

“The same thing that made Superstorm Sandy so destructive is the same thing that made those hurricanes so powerful. We’re heating up the oceans, and we’re making the storms way stronger than they would otherwise be.” He criticized the presidential administration for denying climate change and called upon residents “to have their say and speak up, 23 days from now [during the election].”

Gore said he endorses Murphy because his platform places an urgency on environmental issues and could bring in solar jobs. Al Gore said that he read Murphy’s position papers and advised voters to review them, too.

“Political will is a renewable resource,” Gore said, encouraging people to play an active role in their government.

When the rally was over, some Brookdale students met Pallone, Murphy, and Gore. Some even got the chance to shake hands with each of them.

Payge Hardy, a 21-year-old philosophy major said, “No matter your opinion of Phil Murphy or Al Gore, all can agree that they are excellent orators.”

“Everyone was incredibly articulate and passionate,’’ said Victoria Cattelona, a 20-year-old political science major. “I’m excited to vote for them.”

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 7. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and voting by mail is also an option.