Sanders Would Be Wise to Consider Booker for VP

Sanders Would Be Wise to Consider Booker for VP

Bernie Sanders rally at Monroe Community College, Sanders at podium, 4/12/16 [Photo: David Kramer] From Athesia, Video Celeb turned Paparazzi, at the rally

George Cassidy Payne

In a Nov 27, 2018 Talker post, Is a Biden/Booker Ticket Unbeatable in 2020?, I argued that a Biden-Booker ticket looked unbeatable. I was completely wrong about Joe Biden. His campaign tanked miserably and there is little chance that he can recover in time to be persuasive on Super Tuesday (March 3).  To the shock of the Democratic establishment, Bernie Sanders has become the party’s undisputed front runner. In a recent, forward looking article in the New Yorker, John Cassidy pointed out that “Sanders’s ability to forge such a big lead in California reflects his strength among progressives, young voters, and minority voters, particularly Latinos…But the divided nature of his opposition and the fact that only two other candidates are at fifteen per cent are also important. Given the way the primary is structured, this could end up greatly amplifying Sanders’s victory, in terms of delegates awarded to him.”

With Biden all but gone, and the other candidates slipping out of the picture, perhaps, given Sander’s current lead, I am still right about Corey Booker as VP. I do think Booker looks like the best fit for Sanders. First and foremost, Booker is a true progressive. According to his voting record in Congress, Booker is the 3rd most liberal senator. Along with Sanders, Booker has supported the Medicare for All Act and joined the Hell No Caucus (a group that has challenged Trump’s appointees.) No one has been more committed to fighting for the rights of urban workers than Booker, whose humble yet inspiring ascent in New Jersey politics made him a celebrity. It must appeal to Sanders that Booker is the first African American in New Jersey to be appointed to the Senate, and a supporter of single payer healthcare. That’s a potent combination that will make sense to Sanders’s loyal base.

Moreover, Booker brings a host of intangibles to Sanders’s campaign that are not easily found in other VP nominees. He is a relentless campaigner and surrogate. He is a sound debater who does not get sidetracked by petty insults and partisan cheap shots. In fact, Booker is one of the more bipartisan members of Congress, even vowing when he joined the Senate to have lunch with every Republican including people like Ted Cruz; he wanted to find common ground and believed getting to know opponents in person was essential. It doesn’t hurt that Booker is also good on television and women generally favor him. (His girlfriend is the Hollywood actress and political activist Rosario Dawson.)

Corey Booker with Rosario Dawson after the fourth Democratic debate. [Matt Baron/Shutterstock, 10/31/19]

Speaking of the electoral map, Booker is an indispensable asset who shares strong support in African American and Latino communities. He is youngish (50) but also brings Washington experience and a certain wisdom that can only be gained by fighting in the trenches. What other City Councilperson willingly elected to live in the Newark “Bricks” in order to document the real conditions of minorities? When he was at Stanford he started a crisis counseling program and when he was at Yale, he operated free legal clinics. If ever there was a candidate who shares Sander’s enthusiasm for restructuring public policies that benefit real, working people, it is Booker. If sustaining current levels of support and revving up new African American and Latino voters is the goal, Booker is Sander’s man.

All of that being said, I think Sanders knows Booker and likes him. The two have worked together on various bills and each of them have taken an unwavering stance for freedom and truth, often calling out President Trump’s relentless abuse of power. Like Sanders, Booker, for all of his overtures of bipartisanship, has never changed his position on Trump and what he stands for. Generally speaking, the Rhodes scholar from Stanford and Yale law school grad is smart, tough, savvy, creative, energetic, and guided by a moral compass. Who else would make a better candidate to run with if you are Bernie Sanders?

Most importantly, Booker can do the job if Sanders is unable to. A 78 year old president with heart problems needs to run with someone the nation can trust and believe in. If you are not an outright bigot, it is impossible to ignore Booker’s intelligence, idealism, and inner drive to bring America back from the precipice of civil war — at least in terms of our civil discourse and shared values as a citizenry. He is a social liberal but an American first capitalist too. He is a grassroots warrior for the poor and a friend of billionaires (Mark Zuckerberg among them). And he has a vision, which is more than I can say for a conservative elitist and political opportunist like Bloomberg. As a politician who defies all categories and expectations, he makes an ideal choice to join the Sanders revolution.


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About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.

1 Comment

  1. Michael Nighan

    I view the question of who Sanders should pick as a running mate as a purely academic exercise. For all the reasons I stated in a previous Talker article (to which we can now add Putin’s active participation in the campaign on Trump’s behalf), Sanders has no more change of unseating Demagogue Donny than does any real Democrat (I decline to accept as a Democrat a man who decades ago disowned the party and who still lists himself as an “I” in the US Senate). The difference being, with Biden or Warren as the candidate, we’d lose the presidency but likely retain control of the House and have a shot at taking the Senate (Republicans will be protecting 23 seats this year versus just 12 for the Dems). But with Sanders, the Republicans will make hay over the faux issue of Bernie’s faux-socialism and will be able to use that issue, plus the valid question of Bernie’s less-than-stellar health, to scare the electorate so as to retain control of the Senate and possibly even take back the House of Representatives.


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