New Jersey Senator and 2020 presidential hopeful Cory Booker hosted a grassroots campaign event at Game On! where he talked about the things that can bring people together—not uncommon for the candidate who often speaks on winning with love.
In an interview with The Heights after his speech, Booker declined say whether he would vote to remove President Donald Trump from office, should the House of Representatives file articles of impeachment against him for allegedly blocking aid unless Ukraine investigated former Vice President Joseph Biden.
“I’m going to be a juror,” Booker said. “I don’t even know what the article are of. There could be one article, there could be 50 articles. I need to evaluate the evidence …I think this needs to be handled in a way that builds national consensus, that pulls us together.”
In his speech, the New Jersey senator emphasized that the Democratic Party needs to draw a stark contrast with the sitting president without going too negative.
“We’re not going to win this election by defining ourselves by what we’re against, we need to talk more and more about what we’re for and who we’re for,” Booker said.
People mobilizing on a large scale is the only thing that creates change, the senator said. He said that the Democratic Party needs to avoid meeting Trump on his own turf and steer away from the president’s own tactics. Bigots, fearmongers, and demagogues weren’t beat that way, according the the presidential hopeful.
When Booker’s grandparents talked to him about living through World War II, they said everyone got involved. Everyone bought a war bond. The nation unified, which is what Booker said the Democratic Party needs to do now.
“We have big things to do,” Booker said. “We have to mobilize this whole planet to deal with the perils of climate change. And so I’m running in this election, not just to beat Donald Trump. I’m running in this election to mobilize bigger energies and bigger enthusiasms and bigger activism and engagement.”
Booker also urged the crowd to abandon the notion that the country doesn’t have to work together to get big things done and criticized devotion to “rugged individualism.”
“We did not get to where we are because of themes like rugged individualism or self-reliance,” Booker said. “Rugged individualism did not get us to the moon, it didn’t map the human genome. Rugged individualism didn’t build the Underground Railroad and it didn’t beat the Nazis.”
Instead, Booker suggested that the country needs leaders who can call on Americans’ “moral imagination” and unite the nation behind a common purpose.
“I’m telling you right now if you elect me as your president, I will ask for more from you than any president has ever asked,” he said.
The center of the mobilization has always been students, Booker said in an interview with The Heights after his speech. Women’s suffrage, abolition, and worker’s rights movements have all been pushed by young people, he said. The voter turnout for people ages 18 to 30 is historically the lowest compared to other age groups, though.
“We need young people not to wait to understand that this nation doesn’t just need that we will not succeed without their active engagement,” he said in the interview.
“So I’m gonna do everything I can to be the kind of dynamic leader that excites, ignites young people, but I’m really leaning heavily on youth activists to begin to shape the agenda of America, and then to make that agenda real.”
We’ve become a nation of people who do nothing, Booker told the crowd. People can’t protect their kids while they hide under desks in school shootings and people who need mental health treatment are jailed, he said.
We’re in a pit, Booker said, as Joseph was in the Bible when his brothers threw him in to die. Veterans come back to the States and are homeless and poor people are jailed for a bag of weed while opiate executives make money, he said. This living generation has the responsibility to work toward the dream that this country’s ancestors did, Booker said. He promised as president to never let the dream fade, but only to make it stronger.
“The moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” Booker said. “Well to tell you right now, we have to be arc benders. We can’t wait for our salvation in hopes that one person will make that change.
“We’ve got to mobilize this new American majority where we demand for change, where we work for change. Where we remember what Frederick Douglass says, ‘If there is no struggle, there is no progress.’”
As Booker spoke, his microphone cut out, leaving the candidate speaking at the top of his voice to reach to the people standing in the back of the bar. When he reached his final words, the crowd formed a line to get a selfie with him. It reached the door and kept refilling as Booker worked his way through the herd of supporters.
Featured Image by Colleen Martin / Heights Editor