Our Country Should Work Like Community Colleges

Our Country Should Work Like Community Colleges

by Thomas J. Feliciano

Published by Passaic County College as Visions Newspaper | May 2016


The election season is almost drawing to its climax. Still, two of the most important primaries in the race for the Democratic nomination are upcoming. California and New Jersey will vote on June 7 to determine the close race between Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton.

The campaign trail brought former President Bill Clinton to the state of NJ on Friday, May 13. He was scheduled to appear at Passaic County Community College’s gymnasium at 12:00 p.m. President Clinton arrived a little before 12:45, but his speech was preceded by several important people in Hilary’s race for the White House.

First to the podium was PCCC student, Mohamed Abdelghany. A resident of Clifton, Abdelghany told the story about how he was focused on athletics throughout his high school career at Clifton High School. This came to a crashing halt when he tore his ACL and was unable to continue his pursuit of a sporting scholarship.

His journey changed paths, with a focus on academics that lead him to PCCC, where Abdelghany obtained a 4.0 GPA and was steadfast in his drive to better himself. He mentioned that it was no coincidence that President Clinton was born in Hope, Arkansas, as he provided hope to the country when they needed it the most.

Next to the podium was Senator Nellie Pou, who serves the New Jersey Senate from the 35th District, and has since 2012. She spoke about Paterson as “the most diverse city in the most diverse state in the most diverse country.” Senator Pou made no qualms about who she supports in the upcoming NJ Primary with the assertive claim, “I’m with her. Part of her backing of Hilary revolves around her promise to “keep immigrant families intact.” She also claimed that Hilary “fights for us.” Senator Pou claimed that the “future of our great nation depends on” the NJ Primary on June 7. She said there has “never been a more important election in history.” Senator Pou closed her speech with the claim that Hilary will be the “People’s President.”

Up next was Chair John Currie of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. He claimed that NJ is “truly Clinton Country.” He urged supporters that if they want to continue President Barack Obama’s legacy, then voting for Hilary is their only option. He said that the “next President and first female President” will look out for the Middle Class. He also said that Hilary has the “best qualifications” to be the next Leader of the Free World.

Chairman Currie’s speech wrapped up around 12:20 p.m. After some delay, he retook the podium to inform the audience that President Clinton was delayed due to a traffic accident. Music played in the meantime, until Congressman Bill Pascrell took the stage for the introductory remarks.

Congressman Pascrell of NJ’s 9th District opened with the claim that Hilary would “break barriers” as the next President. He said that the Republican Candidate (Donald Trump) “strokes the flames of bigotry and hatred.”

“Rather than building walls, Hilary Clinton is focused on bringing everyone to the table,” Congressman Pascrell said. He continued with, “It’s hard to overstate how dangerous Donald Trump’s policies would be.”

One such policy, defaulting on our National Debt, is something that Congressman Pascrell warned that even the most hard-line conservative economists are against. He said, “We pay our debts as Americans.”

Congressman Pascrell finished his speech with the claim that it “could be New Jersey that determines the difference on June 7.” He finished his speech to much acclaim, before introducing the 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton.

Former President Clinton’s address lasted nearly 45 minutes. The highlight of his speech was that “Our country would work better if it worked like community colleges.” This is because they are all inclusive, turn nobody away, are incredibly affordable, and give the most opportunities to anybody who comes seeking them.

President Clinton remarked that in his earlier discussion with our very own esteemed Dr. Steven Rose, PCCC’s President told President Clinton that he was the first of America’s leaders to mention community colleges in his speeches.

President Clinton then moved on the the story of the Chobani Yogurt company. He said that its founder, a Turkish immigrant named Hamdi Ulukaya, set the standard for what American business should represent.

The company founded in 2005 and officially opened its doors in 2007. As of 2016, Chobani is worth billions. Ulukaya not only made himself rich, but also the company’s 2000 employees. Before going public later this year, Ulukaya distributed a portion of the company to everybody who works at Chobani. The total adds up to 10 percent of the company, or [at least] $150,000 per employee.

This is the foundation of selflessness and giving back to one’s employees that President Clinton would like to see emulated again and again.

The next portion of his speech was a reaction to Senator Sanders’ proposal for tuition-free public colleges and universities. Although President Clinton said the idea sounded noble in premise, he disagreed with the notion that would potentially put many institutes of higher education out of business.

He asserted that those who can afford tuition should pay, while those who can’t should have every opportunity to attend. This included expanding the Pell Grant program and increasing student loan forgiveness. The goal laid out by the Clinton Campaign is to make “everybody eligible for debt-free college.”

After the remarks about student debt, an individual from the crowd interrupted, asking President Clinton why he “put people in jail.” Some of the crowd booed, but President Clinton cordially allowed the man to finish, before answering in due kind.

He referenced the Crime Bill that he signed in 1994. He also admitted that, “We overdid sentencing in the 90s; we need to reverse it.” The man left the venue with chants of “Feel the Bern” to which several students responded with chants of “Hilary.”

President Clinton showed poise in his reaction to this unscheduled event. He said that America is the least racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic we’ve ever been, but we have a problem when two people with opposing views can’t sit in the same room with one another.

Almost on cue, another eruption from the crowd rocked the venue. A woman asked President Clinton to help “release money for elementary schools.” He responded with, “That’s a New Jersey problem.”

President Clinton then said that American should “prove our country is a model for the 21st Century.” He said that we need terror-hating, peace-loving Muslim-Americans to join the fight against extremism here at home.

He proposed an allegory that saw a wall built at the Mexican and Canadian border, as well as around the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He continued by placing the United States Air Force in the sky at all hours to monitor traffic going in and out. President Clinton claimed that even with those measures in place, Social Media would still infiltrate. The same Social Media that prepared the terrorists of San Bernardino to commit their heinous actions against their countrymen.

President Clinton said America should be concerned with “bridge building not wall building.” He also said the country needs a politician who has proven to get things done with policy and also by working with Republicans. He promised that his wife is the “most gifted changer America has ever seen.”

At this, he left the stage to shake hands with those in the crowd, kiss a few babies, and pose for selfies. He left PCCC’s gymnasium a little after 2 p.m.

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