Cory Booker may be the best 2020 candidate (so far)

Sarah Baldwin, Opinions Co-Editor

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U.S. Senator Cory A. Booker announced his plans to run for president in 2020 on Feb. 1. The Senator, who has been serving in his current role since 2013, has made national headlines in the past few years as a staunch opposer of President Donald Trump and the administration’s policies. In this modern political era defined by negativity and hostility from both Republicans and Democrats, Booker may be the president this country needs to begin recovering from the stains of the Trump Administration.


Since his election as mayor of Newark in 2006, Booker has been known as the heroic elected official who places his constituents first whether by shoveling snow from their driveways, saving neighbors from burning buildings, or assisting pedestrians who have been hit by cars.


Long before announcing his 2020 run, Booker had been known for responding to supporters and cynics alike on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. Even when bombarded with messages of hatred or profanity, the senator uses it as an opportunity to respond with positivity—something that has been glaringly missing from the current political climate. Unlike our current leader, Booker has the maturity and depth to understand that taking to Twitter to respond with thinly veiled threats is unbefitting for a president–or any elected official.


Regarding policy, Booker’s past experience and his voting record make apparent his priority: the American people. From 2006 to 2013, Booker served as the mayor of Newark, granting him political experience on both the local and federal levels. In addition, he has been an outspoken critic of some of the most pressing issues in American political life, among these being mass incarceration, immigration, and healthcare. Since Trump’s election, Booker has not been shy to express his disdain for the atrocities committed by the current administration, such as the separation of families at the borders, the attempts to repeal ObamaCare, and the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. This is not to say the Senator’s background is without flaw, as he has faced backlash for things such as his confusing stance on the Israel/Palestine conflict, his close ties to corporate interests, and his, at times, moderate stance in calling out Republicans (in a recent press conference, the Senator refused to denounce Trump as a racist).


Yet, no Democratic candidate who has announced thus far is without criticism. From Kamala Harris’ destructive policies during her time as a prosecutor to Kirsten Gillibrand’s relationship to Wall Street, it would be naive to believe any contender to have a perfect record. We can–and should–critique the aspects of Senator Booker’s career that we deem problematic; however, doing so does not invalidate his accomplishments.


In terms of electability, Booker–who started as a moderate Democrat and has since ventured toward becoming a progressive champion–may be one of the few candidates who stands a chance against Trump. Unfortunately, other impressive Democratic candidates with more radical stances or similar messages (e.g., Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, etc.) may find themselves less successful in the primaries, as they endure the same sexist criticisms that Hillary Clinton did in 2016. Already, Warren is facing questions about her likability that Booker will surely not encounter. With Barack Obama’s election being followed by Clinton’s defeat, it is clear that America is far more willing to elect a black man or an unqualified white man–than a woman as Commander-in-Chief, which may help Booker as he gears up for primaries. Moreover, it is unlikely that a radical candidate will earn the Democratic nomination (e.g., Bernie Sanders in 2016), as the party sadly seems unwilling to embrace viewpoints that threaten the status quo.


Of the candidates who have announced a 2020 run or the creation of an exploratory committee thus far, Booker stands out not only for his primarily liberal–but not radically so–voting record and electability but also for the messages he spreads. In a clear attempt at unity, Booker’s video announcing his presidential run laments on the struggles faced by this country, while praising the soldiers, protestors, and everyday citizens who have put in the effort to make this country better. Whether this more moderate strategy can be successful is yet to be determined, but it, unfortunately, seems necessary in securing the Democratic nomination. Even so, Booker’s campaign is one seemingly focused on the security of all Americans, regardless of race, gender, or class, and his presidency may return a sense of dignity to the Oval Office that we have not seen since the Obama Administration.

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