LET’S DO BETTER
Corey Booker, the current United States Senator-elect from New Jersey, has given us “something good to talk about,” and that’s good news. That 44-year-old brother has shown America how a real politician should behave. He is a grass roots type guy, with just enough sophistication to “run with the big dogs.” We can expect great things from this man.
Booker, reared by parents who fought against racial discrimination, became a voice for the disenfranchised, before he became Newark, New Jersey’s mayor in 2006. In 1999, he went on 10-day hunger strike to publicize drug dealing and called for action. From 1996 to 2006, he lived in Brick Towers, a crime-ridden housing complex, to bring attention to the area. He left the towers and moved into the South Ward, which was known for gang and drug activity. This housing boldness took place before Booker was elected mayor. No wonder, he won the mayoral position by a landslide!
Let’s examine his relationships with just ordinary people.
Last year, as he was returning to his home, he saved a neighbor from her burning home. Booker just happened upon the scene and heard a woman screaming, “My daughter is in there!” He rescued the woman, carrying her out on his shoulder.
We must be impressed with this man’s boldness. After one week in office as mayor, he started a 100-day plan for Newark reforms. He increased the size of the police department, ended background checks for some city jobs to help former offenders find employment and expanded summer youth employment. He called upon the private sector to assist and they responded. The donors included Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder.
Booker is sort of like the “gift that just keeps on giving.” Since he has been mayor, he lived on food stamps to personally understand the difficulty of that kind of food budgeting. His other “non-typical” mayoral duties have included shoveling the driveway of a city resident, permitting Hurricane Sandy victims refuge in his home and rescuing a dog from freezing to death. Of course, Booker’s activities had some degree of politics, but we still must applaud him for “politicking for the voiceless.”
Although he is the new Senator-elect from New Jersey, he is still the mayor of Newark. And, he has never been shy about taking on controversial issues.
Last week, he married several same sex couples. He took on the fight for same sex marriages, even though Governor Chris Christie was against such unions. Actually, Christie stated he would appeal to the high court to reverse the legalization of same sex marriages. Christie later said he would abandon his appeal, but Booker already had decided to stay the course. Again, “standing his ground” for those who suffer most from discrimination and unfairness. There are individuals who have speculated that Booker is gay. His response has been “no response.” Booker repeatedly has proclaimed his sexual orientation should have no bearing on his governing and service to the American people. Most reasonable people would agree.
Booker has been considered one of the most prominent Democratic politicians in the nation. Now that he is Senator-elect, succeeding Frank Lautenberg, who died in office this year, he becomes the first African American U.S. senator since Barack Obama was elected in 2004. Booker joins a unique group. He is the fourth black person ever to become an elected senator. His successors are Edward Brooks (R-Mass.), Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.), and Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Five other black men served, but were appointed to fill vacant seats or selected by state legislators prior to ratification of the seventh amendment, which called for direct elections of senators.
We are living in times when conservatism is popular and even liberals ease away from social and economic issues that primarily attack poor people. The middle class is the “safe” group and the majority of politicians set policy based on this classs’ expectations. So, it is just plain refreshing to have a senator-elect who is worthy of the chant, “What a man, What a man, What a mighty good man.”