Bob Menendez grew up the son of immigrants in a tenement building in Union City. A product of New Jersey's public schools and a graduate of the state's universities, he has served as a school board member, a mayor and a state legislator. Since 1992, he has been fighting for New Jersey families in Washington, where he rose to become the third-highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives before taking office in the Senate in 2006.
In Congress, he has fought to make health care more affordable for New Jersey's families and to improve schools so they prepare our children for a successful future. Now he is fighting to make college more affordable for the next generation of leaders. After September 11, 2001, Bob earned national recognition for his leadership in reforming the country's intelligence and public health systems and for fighting to establish an independent commission to investigate the terrorist attacks on our country. Today, he is working to improve the security of our bus, rail and public transit systems.
Elected by his colleagues in 2002 as the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Bob Menendez became the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congressional history. He previously served as the Vice Chairman of the Democratic Caucus and has led key Task Forces on Education and Homeland Security. After being appointed by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, Bob was sworn in to the Senate on January 18, 2006. In November of that year, New Jerseyans elected Bob to serve a full six-year term as United States Senator. He currently serves on the Senate Committees on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Energy and Natural Resources; Budget; and Foreign Relations. Bob is also the Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs, and International Environmental Protection.
Question: What forces have shaped humanity most?
Robert Menendez: I think the desire of mankind to be fundamentally free; to be able to fulfill their God-given potential; the desire to be able to advance. In broad terms, I think that has shaped history over centuries. I think religion has also obviously, till this day, shaped humanity. And today we’re in a whole different era which we had become to believe in the Western world that there is a secular side, and there is a religious side, and that there is a divide between that. And we don’t understand why others in the world are driven in a way in which they are driven by their religious beliefs – very fervent religious beliefs. And so I think religion over history has taken us . . . has been part of shaping our experience, and is still involved in shaping our human experience. I think the struggle for freedom in all of its manifestations . . . I think those are two great forces that have shaped history over time and continue to shape history today.