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9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean speaks at Annenberg School 224 Credit: Michelle Bigony

While the Washington, D.C., that former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean grew up in still advocated segregation between races, the political parties that made up Congress then were significantly more integrated than they are today.

Kean advocated a return to this Congressional unity yesterday afternoon as he spoke to the Communications and Congress class taught by Annenberg School for Communication professor Alvin Felzenberg.

Kean, who governed New Jersey from 1982 to 1990, served as president of Drew University from 1990 until 2005 and as chairman of the National Commission on Terror Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission.

He stressed the importance of increased cooperation within Congress, because he believes that Congress “doesn’t work very well these days, and part of it is because the Congress has become so nasty, so partisan.”

Kean favors a return to the type of Congress he saw during his father’s time in Congress, one in which Congressmen were well-acquainted, regardless of party affiliation — one when it was easier to cooperate on passing important legislation.

Serving on the 9/11 Commission gave him a different perspective on Congress. He said Congress was reluctant to create the Commission, and it would not have been born “had it not been for enormous pressure from the victims’ families, who are extraordinary people and who were really the wind in our sails.”

Kean also touched on the subject of revitalizing the Republican party, which he described as a party of opportunity, particularly for those who have none.

“It’s a crime that there are so many people in the land of opportunity who absolutely don’t have any opportunity to succeed,” he said.

Kean encouraged students to get involved — whether in communications, journalism or politics — because the problems in society are created by people but can also be fixed by people.

Felzenberg, who served on the staff of the 9/11 Commission and on Kean’s gubernatorial administration, said he feels that Kean is an example that politics can be an honorable profession, in spite of the mud-slinging that takes place.

“In a time when people are very partisan, he brought up the message of working together,” College senior Callie O’Neill said. “I definitely agree with him.”

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