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Opinion: Booker’s success crucial for Democrats

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Cory Booker is becoming somewhat of a star among attentive liberals. He figures to be an important player in Democratic party politics for some time to come, and this is great for the party.

Booker is a black, vegetarian, non-alcohol consuming mayor of a city that is infamous for its high crime rate. He has increased efforts to reduce crime and poverty in Newark, even living in impoverished, crime riddled areas of the city. He’s “hip” and advocates for causes like same-sex marriage. There’s no doubting his sincerity in his efforts to create change.

Booker takes to Twitter on a daily basis to answer tweets and messages from constituents, even giving his phone number out to some so he can provide further assistance. He has participated in a 10 day hunger strike, lived on food stamps for a week, and at one point saved a woman and a dog from a burning building. One can’t help but wonder if the two-term mayor is a modern-day politician/superman whose concern for his constituents actually shines through in his actions. He’s nearly everything a hardline liberal would love to see in a politician.

Many have criticized Booker for what they perceive to be his focus on building his national profile through his amount of Twitter followers. Others perceive him as being all-talk, and have critiqued what they say has been his inability to actually get things done. Some liberals have compared him to President Barack Obama and his inability to follow through on some of his campaign promises. Obviously the two are comparable for their meteoric rises through the Democratic Party. Also running similar comparisons to Obama, many believe that Booker might have presidential aspirations.

He goes even further than Obama in his opposition to trimming benefits on entitlement programs. He is opposed to missile strikes in Syria. He claims he would have jailed the bankers who helped cause the 2008 banking crisis. He will draw a great deal of support from Democrats for such positions. Booker has been a strong advocate of prison reform. And he befriends foes. He has drawn ire for his friendship with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in a time that people are screaming for bipartisanship.

He hardly deviates from typical democratic norms, but some Democrats feel his record with big business is rather sketchy. As the Washington Post’s Jason Horowitz noted, “It is something of a mystery what kind of a senator Booker will try to be. Conservatives fear he will be a liberal lion. Liberals fear a Trojan horse for Wall Street and Silicon Valley interests.”

In October, voters will decide whether they trust Booker to replace Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who passed away last June, over Republican candidate Steve Lonegan. An active and respected liberal voice taking a seat in the New Jersey Senate could point toward bigger and better things for the Democratic party.

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