Tuesday, November 24, 2020

CANDIDATE CORNER: Booker wants to heal nation, tackle reform and inequality in 2020

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is not likely to become President of the United States or secure the Democratic nomination. This assumption can be made purely in the fact that he is not polling as high as other candidates and has received less in campaign contributions than higher polling candidates.

This is disheartening.

These shouldn’t be indicators in the success of his campaign. Instead, his policy ideas and message should be what dictates his chances and if it did, he would surely be capturing the attention of more people.

Booker was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in New Jersey. He won a seat in the Municipal Council of Newark in 1998 and won the mayoral race for the same city in 2006.

His first term as mayor included affordable housing development numbers doubling and the reduction of the deficit of the city budget. He was later successful in securing another term in 2010 before winning his senate seat in 2013 and becoming the first African-American senator to represent New Jersey.

Criminal justice reform, economic equality and equal justice stand out as the pinnacles of Booker’s presidential run and they are strong platforms to be running a campaign on in 2019.

The New York Times’ interactive database on presidential contenders writes of Booker: “In a political climate dominated by divisiveness, Mr. Booker has pitched himself as a healer. Central to his campaign is combating inequality.”

One of Booker’s earliest campaign proposals was “baby bonds.” According to The New York Times, these bonds would be a part of a program that would give every American child a $1,000 savings account when they are born. Additional money would be given by the government as the child grows, depending on family income. It’s a radical idea even in a time of discussion about how well off financially the younger generations will be, but it’s a solid plan.

The description of Booker as a healer is important in the context of the current commander-in-chief. The increased visibility of white supremacist groups and the divisive language and actions of the president have given the people of the United States a wake-up call about the underlying effects of institutionalized racism and the scars of a country founded on the ideas of freedom while ignoring the freedoms of their enslaved peoples.

A second black president will not solve the race issues of the United States. That point should be made clear.

Representation alone will not solve pressing issues but it is a place to start. Part of Booker’s family story includes that his family faced racial discrimination when trying to buy a home in a good school district. Voters in the 2020 election would be interested to learn that in 1973, the federal government charged the management corporation of the current president with discrimination of African Americans. It’s telling, to say the least.

Booker has gotten his hands dirty on the issues he cares about; after graduating from Yale Law School, Booker moved into a public housing project and worked with tenants to take on a slumlord. A New York Times profile of the candidate captured a scene where Booker accompanied five women who were domestic violence survivors seeking asylum in the U.S. from Honduras and Cuba.

It read: “Those cameras were on hand to capture the women walking across the bridge from Mexico, and were around later to hear the senator announce that the women were allowed to continue into El Paso and take refuge in a shelter while their applications would be processed. He stayed on a street corner to answer questions from reporters for about 10 minutes.”

Booker is present in the work and causes he’s fighting for. We need a president willing to show up and work.

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