In generally consider myself a person who is always skeptical and not easily convinced, especially when it comes to politicians, but Newark Mayor Cory Booker is the one in a million who comes across as an honest politician and a likable fellow. In the ocean of politics, he is the one oyster with a pearl while all the rest are crusty, taking up space and should just be fried up and eaten with a squeeze of lemon and a glass of cheap beer.
Booker was at his prime on March 12 when he spoke to a packed crowd at the Yvonne Theater in an event hosted by the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics. Before he even spoke a word, I was already impressed because he wasn’t dressed in haughty attire like an over-the-top three-piece suit; he wore jeans and loafers. Now, I’ve seen politicians wear civilian clothes before, but only in obvious attempts to appear like average people. Booker also jokingly scoured the crowd for any ex-girlfriends, something no other politician would admit to doing (although I’m sure Bill Clinton does all the time). I felt on equal ground to Booker. He wasn’t phony in his approach to the people; he was just himself. I felt he was talking to me, not at me. He didn’t give a lecture, he talked.
Since the “Supermayor” is also only 42, a baby by political standards, he brings a much-needed youthfulness to the scene. As a loyal C-SPAN viewer, I often see ancient congressmen and women pretend to be relevant, as if their outdated viewpoints were mainstream. I’m not going to mock the medical conditions of politicians, but when you’re riding around the Senate floor in your Hoveround, you probably should retire and allow the able-bodied to take over. Booker wasn’t afraid to challenge the establishment when he announced his candidacy for the seat currently held by Sen. Frank Lautenberg — the oldest senator in office.
But Booker isn’t just all talk. As mayor, he has led a successful effort to clean up the city and improve its economy. He’s brought industry and development back to a city that most people are afraid of stepping foot into. Panasonic has relocated to the city, and Manischewitz is moving production into Newark, something Booker is excited about. I sincerely believe that Booker is a representative of the people. Now, I’m sure he has rich and powerful friends like every other politician around the country, but just from hearing him speak I know he will not grovel at some fat cat’s feet just so he can be elected.
I wasn’t the only person to feel Booker’s awesomeness. I’ve spoken to students and professors about Booker’s talk and every one of them was mesmerized by his honesty and inspired by his words, like “a conspiracy of love.” The most profound thing he said was, “Anytime you try to do something good, someone will try to stop you, for whatever reason.” As much as I would like to think Booker is wrong, he’s not. If he becomes New Jersey’s next senator, I have the utmost confidence that he will fight against his critics, do what is right and not be an anonymous sheep that follows the money and repeats the same policies of the past.
Printed in the 3/29/13 edition.