Monday, April 8, 2019

2020 Challenger Lineup: Cory Booker

Cory Booker is a serious runner for the presidency, but hasn't been in the spotlight a whole lot lately. He's basically Obama 2.0, farther to the left but will almost certainly continue drone bombing civilians in the Middle East. Still, a much better choice than Joe Biden, whom we should all just discard as a presidential possibility.

On paper, Booker looks like a great progressive candidate. He has self-identified as progressive and has a very progressive voting record in many ways. However, Booker has financial ties that point to him being another neo-liberal at heart, and it makes him hard to trust. He fell from grace back in 2017 when he helped kill a promising bill designed to lower prescription drug prices. He's taken $267,338 from pharmaceutical companies (possibly more since the publication of that article) and has raised the most money via Wall Street donation than any other Senator. He's worked with Mark Zuckerberg.

The excuse made for Booker is that he was trying to protect jobs in the state he was representing, but that's still a function of protecting the industry and Wall Street money always comes with strings. As president, all those strings would be pulled.

Because of his long history as a politician, he has a long voting record and a whole Wikipedia page on his political positions. In all the big ways, Booker is progressive, but reading through all of his positions paints a picture of a dedicated capitalist. He supports "market-based solutions" for climate change, though he has come out in support of the Green New Deal. He has built a reputation for being very concerned about deficits. He supports the privatization of education, including charter schools, voucher programs, and merit-based pay for teachers - all which have been shown to increase school racial and class segregation, making schools in poor areas even worse while rich schools suck up more of the money.

His education stance comes in conflict with his support for "baby-bonds" - low-risk savings account for every newborn managed by the federal government that "would be worth tens of thousands of dollars by the age of 18." Such a policy would likely significantly reduce the racial wealth gap and I'm all for it, though it seems like it would be a lot more effective if college didn't cost tens of thousands of dollars.

At the same time, Booker has pushed for capitalist deregulation in some alarming ways.

He also came out against what he considers needless government regulations that hamper technological development. He said that many of the advances in drone technology are coming out of Europe. "This country is being left behind," he said, a sentiment that went over well with the tech-happy crowd.

Well, we mostly use drones in this country for KILLING PEOPLE, so I'm pretty okay if we're falling behind in that respect.

He also supports lowering corporate taxes and once defended Bain Capital against Obama, leading to the Republican National Convention to create a petition called "I Stand With Cory Booker." Ew.

Booker's foreign policy is also worrying. He has supported stronger sanctions against Iran and sounds a lot like Hillary Clinton in his sentiments about the country being a threat, which sounds a lot like a precursor to yet another U.S. invasion. He also co-sponsored the anti-BDS (boycott, divestiture and sanctions) bill that prohibits U.S. companies from participating in boycotts against Israel until they stop their active genocide campaign against Palestinians. Which is fucked up. It's not only anti-Palestine, it's anti-freedom of speech.

At the same time, he's great on racial justice and was instrumental in the passing of the First Step Act to help prison inmates have a shot at a life after imprisonment and ends mandatory sentencing laws around non-violent drug charges. And he's had some serious guts in calling out Trump appointees like Kirstjen Nielsen for being horrible, awful monsters.

But does this matter much when he's clearly a capitalist, corporate shill? Will he really support Medicare for All if he becomes president and the corporations start calling?

I can't trust anyone who takes corporate money, and I'm far from alone in my generation. His supposed support of human rights becomes shakey with his opposition of BDS. Because of this, I can't give him higher than a C. Kamala Harris is better, honestly.

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