Cory Booker is getting much praise after his testimony against Jeff Sessions’s nomination to become attorney general—but that was followed with a vote against an affordable drug proposal, that if passed, would have created a a reserve fund to allow Americans to import inexpensive prescription drugs from Canada.
It’s just another example of how Booker is a ‘New New Democrat’—one that speaks the language of social justice while siding with corporate interests..@CoryBooker exemplifies how many Democrats talk social justice while siding with corporate interests.Click To Tweet
Booker violated senate tradition in order to testify against his colleague—Jeff Sessions—and he is right that Session’s record doesn’t reflect his ability to handle the responsibilities of attorney general:
“Senator Sessions has not demonstrated a commitment to a central requirement of the job — to aggressively pursue the congressional mandate of justice for all,” [Booker] said. “At numerous times in his career, he has demonstrated a hostility toward these convictions, and has worked to frustrate attempts to advance these ideals.”
Never mind that Booker once praised Sessions, after passing the Booker-Sessions legislation, which awarded a congressional gold medal to Selma marchers. He said how he was “honored” to work with Sessions.
Through all of this Booker’s ambition is apparent. Though he’s downplayed his interest, it’s obvious the young senator from Newark, New Jersey has been eyeing a run for 2020. He gave a boisterous speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and is seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party.
He’s tended to use Obama-esque language in his speeches, including his explanation for testifying against Sessions:
In the choice between standing with Senate norms or standing up for what my conscience tells me is best for our country, I will always choose conscience and country . . .
The arc of the moral universe does not just naturally curve toward justice. We must bend it.
This is sort of the lofty language used by contemporary Democrats—appealing to our better angels instead of the demons peddled by demagogues like Trump.
But there are certain things that even worry establishment Democrats about Booker. He once made up a drug dealer named “T Bone” on the campaign trail (“I later got to know this guy and his name was T-Bone and I’m a vegetarian so that was a particularly vicious threat”). He also flirted with a stripper on Twitter (“The East Coast loves you, and by the East Coast I mean me”).
But this is standard fare that pales in comparison to what the President-Elect has done—contemporary politicians tend to shake off such scandals.
Cory Booker Is No Progressive
What’s more concerning for progressives are Booker’s ties to Silicon Valley and Wall Street. Booker is closely tied to the investor class, even by Democratic Party standards.
In 2014, WYNC reported that Booker received more Wall Street money than any other member of congress. Booker receieved $1.87 million from the securities and investment industry, Mitch McConnell came in second at $1.26 million.
Booker also received more money from real estate groups than anyone else in Congress, as well as more from tech, entertainment, accountants, and pro-Israel groups.
In 2013, New Republic reported that Booker had been late to disclose his stake in Waywire, a tech startup he co-founded while he was mayor of Newark. Waywrire also employed Booker’s associates, as well as CNN’s Jeff Zucker’s 14 year old child.
All of this explains Booker’s latest siding with corporate interests—a vote in favor of Big Pharma over the interests of the American People. Booker was one of 13 Democrats to reject the Sanders-Klobuchar bill which would have helped import inexpensive drugs from Canada. Even 12 Republicans voted for the bill.
Not surprisingly, all 13 Democrats who voted against the bill receive substantial contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.
Cory Booker is also a Horrible Candidate for President
Even from a purely pragmatic perspective, Booker makes an especially bad candidate for president.
He alienates the progressive wing of the party, gives fodder to the right with numerous scandals, and is easily painted as an establishment politician in an increasingly anti-establishment era.
Yet he will keep popping up in “most likely candidate for 2020” lists. Why? Because big donor money still has enormous sway with the technocratic elite in Washington. And donor money is usually taken as a major qualification by pundits playing the guessing game on ‘who’s next?’
Yet if he runs, Booker will be basically Hillary 2.0—someone who spouts simplistic Democratic platitudes while meeting with big donors. Most of these donors have a vested interest in keeping economic inequality low on the topical radar.
A vast portion of the electorate has rejected such candidates. Both the progressive left and populist middle are seeing through these inauthentic, corporatist candidates.
If the Democrats are smart, they’ll paint Trump as the candidate of the establishment (an easy task, considering his cabinet picks), and allow room for a populist candidate. But that may be overestimating the collective intelligence of the Democratic Party. Elevating Democrats like Booker shows that the liberal elite has a long way to go.