In This Episode
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker joins Jon Favreau in studio for a conversation about his presidential campaign, what he learned about politics as Mayor of Newark, and how he intends to pass his agenda and fix our politics if he wins.
Learn more about Cory Booker here.
- ABC News: Cory Booker explains why he’s running for president in first TV interview since declaring candidacy
- NPR : The United States of Cory Booker
- Real Clear Politics: Booker Press Conference After Launching 2020 Campaign: Need “Less Judgment And More Hard Work”
- The Atlantic: Cory Booker’s Theory of Love
- Quartz: US senator Cory Booker on Me Too and why “we won’t legislate our way to full equality”
- Washington Post: Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey joins the 2020 presidential race
- CNBC: Sen. Cory Booker is running for president in 2020. Here’s where he stands on key
- New York Times: Cory Booker Announces Presidential Bid, Joining Most Diverse Field
- Buzzfeed News: Cory Booker Is Running For President
- The Atlantic: Cory Booker Launched His Presidential Campaign in the Most Cory Booker
- NPR: Cory Booker Makes It Official: He’s Running For President In 2020
- Huffington Post: Cory Booker Announces Run For President In 2020
- Vanity Fair: CORY BOOKER LAUNCHES HIS 2020 BID WITH A CHARM CAMPAIGN
- CNN: Cory Booker announces he is running for president
- Vox: Cory Booker had a confusing answer about health care in his first 2020 press conference
- The Guardian: Cory Booker: Ivy League elite or hunger-striking hero?
- NJ.com: Cory Booker thinks his message of love can win back the White House. Will angry Dems listen?
- Vox: Sen. Cory Booker, a champion for marijuana legalization and criminal justice reform, is running for president
- Washington Post: Cory Booker’s 2020 policy agenda: ‘Baby bonds,’ criminal justice reform, action on climate change
- Vox: Cory Booker had a confusing answer about health care in his first 2020 press
- New York Times: Medicare for All Emerges as Early Policy Test for 2020 Democrats
- Vox: Cory Booker and Kamala Harris’s affordable housing plans, explained
- FiveThirtyEight: How Cory Booker Could Win The 2020 Democratic Nomination
- Washington Post: Cory Booker is running for president. Here’s why it won’t be easy.
- Esquire: Cory Booker Has a Wall Street Problem, But the Democratic Primary Is Better
With Him in It
For a closed-captioned version of this episode, click here.
Jon Favreau: [00:00:00] I’m here with Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey who is running for president. Good to have you here.
Cory Booker: [00:00:06] It’s great to be with you, man. Thank you very much for taking some time with me.
Jon Favreau: [00:00:09] Yeah. Thanks for being here. So after you announced last month I watched Street Fight for the very first time. And for those who don’t know this is the documentary about your first run for mayor of Newark.
Cory Booker: [00:00:22] Nominated for an Oscar and then lost in March of the penguins.
Jon Favreau: [00:00:29] And so it’s about your narrow loss to Sharpe James who is the mayor of Newark at the time. And I have to say I have never seen a nastier campaign run against anyone. I mean he said, you know, you weren’t really black, you were accepting money from–I mean some of the things he said are just crazy: intimidation, harassment…
Cory Booker: [00:00:50] Thuggery, bullying by police.
Jon Favreau: [00:00:52] I mean, and I watch that and my question after watching that was: how did you come from that experience. And come, in general, from an experience where you have lived in an inner city for so long with so much pain as you talk about and have a politics that’s about civic grace and radical love because I think to myself like after running a campaign like that and having a campaign like that run against me, I might be pretty angry all the time. I’m wondering how politics in Newark sort of shaped your views.
Cory Booker: [00:01:28] So Newark has been the best life experience I’ve had. I’ve lived there more years than I’ve lived anywhere and moved there when I was very young and still sort of shaping my whole view of the world. And you immediately get confronted with what exists everywhere from suburbs to farm towns is just the brokenness of life and you meet these unbelievable people who have far more rights to be hateful than I might. You know the tenant president the projects I lived in for almost a decade, Miss Virginia Jones, really one of the greatest heroes of my life. Tough as nails, 5 feet and a smidgen, but could intimidate to intimidate you more than you said a linebacker. Her son was murdered in the lobby of the building I lived in. I would move into the projects and you know she never left and she worked for the prosecutor. These were low income housing became public housing and she could have moved a lot of different places and she taught me one of my best spiritual lessons that hope is the active conviction. That despair won’t have the last word. And when you see the people in a point of utter brokenness, evidence a transformative love, like we saw when the Mother Emanuel shootings happened in South Carolina to stand there and say through pain and hurt that I forgive you to this white supremacist, when you see people in my community who have had their addiction treated with jail over and over and over again and then they start a nonprofit just to focus on young people in their community. Newark is this town where every day when I’m home just walking my block–and now I’ve decided to make reporters who want to do profiles on me to come to my neighborhood–neighborhoods people ignore or don’t want to focus on, to walk with me around my community. Inevitably these incredible human beings will come out of their cars or I’ll knock on doors and bring people in to meet families that speak to the kind of resiliency and fierce love. If people want to say love is soft and namby you know sort of just sort of like oh this Kumbaya sentiment I think is the most ferocious tough hard force there is and it has transformed Newark New Jersey.
Jon Favreau: [00:03:48] How do you balance sort of the anger that people have at the system right. There’s so much anger there’s so much cynicism out there and you hear a lot of people say like you know, ‘someone needs to go blow up Washington right, somebody to change everything’– with your view, right? That I think you believe you can absolutely work within the system and create partnerships and find cooperation, like how do you how do you balance that?
Cory Booker: [00:04:14] Two things: First of all I just want to really focus on terms as I’ve learned to do in my days in Newark. Anger is a very good emotion. If you’re not angry about what’s going on in America then you have some moral dislocation inside your spirit. You should be angry. And in fact I worry that there’s just not enough anger. It should not have taken Donald Trump to trigger the anger and taking to the streets because in my neighborhood before Donald Trump there was children that could more easily find unleaded gasoline than unleaded water. In my neighborhood, the whole criminal justice system lost legitimacy. When people see folks having a system as Bryan Stevenson says ‘it treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than poor and innocent’ you want to be angry that you live around Superfund sites like we do where because of this Grover Norquist no tax system. Even though Ronald Reagan reauthorize it and Mitch McConnell voted on it back in the day, we didn’t reauthorize that small tax on chemical companies and so now super funds which were going down are now proliferating and we now have longitudinal data that shows that in the United States of America, if you’re born around a Superfund site–I live around two–that your chance–and they’re mostly around low income communities disproportionally minority communities–that your chance of of being born with birth defects or autism go up about 20 percent. I mean I can go through the things that well before Donald Trump that should have had us marching in the streets and so but the other word you used is a word I don’t like is cynicism which I think is the sort of surrender to what’s going on. I can’t do anything. What I think American history is a perpetual testimony to the achievement of impossible things by people who didn’t surrender to the seduction of cynicism, who said screw Washington, I’m not going to wait for you know Strom Thurmond to come to the Senate floor and say ‘I’ve seen the light, It’s time for those negro people to have some rights.’ No these were folks that said I don’t give a damn, despairs I’m going to have the last word. Hate is not going to have the last word. I’m going to do extraordinary things for this country and, so for me…
Jon Favreau: [00:06:19] Are you worried that politics has become more cynical because, it worries me. I hate cynicism too but I worry that it’s– I thought it I was cynical when Obama ran in ’07– and ’08 and there was like a lot of cynicism out there and now 10 years later I’m like Ugh…
Cory Booker: [00:06:32] But but we’re all responsible for that.
Jon Favreau: [00:06:34] Yeah.
Cory Booker: [00:06:35] I mean this finger pointing. I mean come on I’ve campaigned for a lot of presidents since I was a city council person getting call to campaign for lots of presence. And I would show up in black communities and I would hear the same thing that we say when we see politicians suddenly come into our community which is ‘why we only see y’all around election time?’ And we wonder why we have 50 percent voter turnouts and we think it’s a great thing when it gets up to 60 percent. Because we’re not speaking to people where they are. And we’ve seen the Democratic Party and the Republican Party screw us. And so if you want to combat cynicism we need to have more people that are speaking to the truth of the experiences that we’re having out there. And so you said something like ‘Cory, you want to work within the system.’ I have to sort of views of this: I do what I have to do to get shit done. And when I was mayor I was unapologetic whether it was with my children or with my communities. You know there were– I still remember the Trust for Public Land came to me and said ‘You’re the most under parked city in America.’ Like they were like just like ‘you guys have no usable green spaces for your kids.’ And so my staff was making fun of me. They said, ‘you will pimp a park anywhere you go, I’ll name a swing after you.’ And we created the largest parks expansion in our city in a century. Now there’s parks all over the city of Newark from pocket parks to the largest city park we built, nine acres, and we did that because were just unapologetic working within the system. But I also knew that we had to change the frickin paradigm where Newark was literally the butt of jokes on national TV and if I couldn’t change the whole system and get people to reawaken a moral imagination about urban places then we– it wasn’t just working within a broken system, which I will do– but it’s about changing people’s view which is the same way I view this election right now. If this election is just about one office and one guy and everybody thinks we did it we got rid of Trump and go right back to doing the stuff that we were doing in those 2013, 2012, 2010….
Jon Favreau: [00:08:36] We’re not gonna be okay.
Cory Booker: [00:08:37] We’re not only not gonna be okay but those things I listed before: environmental injustice, economic injustice, criminal injustice–we’ll still be doing something we have to figure out a way to expand the moral consciousness. And it’s the same thing in the rural areas. I’ve started my campaign in states going into the rural areas. You know we see an existential crisis in this country when our suicide rates, opiate addiction, and having a life expectancy go down–Life expectancy is going down for all Americans, it’s going for white men–the farmer suicide rate is as high as it’s been since since the Great Depression. The vast disappearance of the independent family farm. I’m down in North Carolina in a black community where they’re dealing with one of most horrific environmental injustices I’ve ever seen in Duplin county where you have these massive K foes in corporate agriculture and they take these massive lagoons of pig shit and they spray it over fields that happened to be in black communities. I could take you down there and show you the stuff misting into neighborhoods where people crowded into a room to tell me that they can’t open their windows, they can’t run their air conditioning. They have respiratory diseases, cancers, but those farmers there, they’re contract farmers are one step short of being sharecroppers because these corporations, Smithfield one of the biggest ones, now an international conglomerate Chinese owned company, has put the farmers in a situation where they’re so deeply in debt, they’re just struggling to stay ahead. They’re trapped in a broken system. And so what one of the things that has happened in America in this slice and divide culture we have–is it the urban voter or is it the rural voters at the factory?–We talk in ways that slice and divide our country and we’re forgetting that that these systems now, the suffering of that contract farmer or the rural African-American person, is directly connected to a broken systems, that’s why my folks, who work full time jobs, and catch extra shifts and still go to my corner bodega and use food stamps and find a Twinkie product cheaper than an apple. We’re all caught in the same broken system. And it’s the fact that we have the delusion of separateness, the dangerous delusion that we are separate from each other, that is undermining our whole civic space and our ability to solve problems. And so what I’m telling people in this election is–not only as a guy who went through a street fight–not only do we need to beat Donald Trump but the way to beat Donald Trump is not to do Trump like tactics. The incredible youth, the young people that marched against Bull Connor in May of 1963 in Birmingham, they didn’t bring their own fire hoses and their own dogs. They call to the moral consciousness of a country they got folk woke so that after their very first protest thousands of people, suddenly celebrities and incredible–Dick Gregory Joan Baez–everybody was running down to Birmingham and segregation fell within days. They were able to awaken the moral conscience of this country because one of the biggest things I worry about in America is our tolerance. We preach tolerance in America. We’re a tolerant nation. Go home tonight and tell someone you live with it you tolerate them. And to me, I think the problem is tolerance. Number one: it is a cynical aspiration of the entire country, but I’m more concerned about the fact that we’ve grown too tolerant with the suffering of our neighbors thinking that that somehow is not affecting directly your life. And so for me this if this election is just about Donald Trump, fine, I want to beat him. If I’m president on the first day with my pen, I’ll restore the Transgender Military Service. I’ll go back to some of the things he’s done: mercury rules, methane rules. I can do a lot as your chief executive, but I’m not running just for that. I’m running to wake up the moral consciousness of our country, to confront injustices and understand that the only way we’ve ever solved mass injustice in this country, from the Workers Rights movement taking people from sweatshops and child labor to workers rights and public education which both are being eroded right now all the way to the civil rights movement, all of those things had to be done by creating broader coalitions of people, Republican and Democrat. I’m literally sitting before you right now because a Republican town in New Jersey when my parents in 1969–I was just a baby–were denied housing because of the color of our skin. They were kept being told by real estate agents in our homes or sold. It was this coalition of folks, black folks, white folks, Christians, Jews, Republicans, and Democrats, that didn’t think ‘OK. We can’t solve that…’ They didn’t surrender to the cynicism of housing discrimination in America. They did some extraordinary stuff. They literally did a sting operation. A white couple bid on the house after my parents were told it was sold. They set up a closing and on the closing the white couple didn’t show up, in short my dad did and a lawyer who ends up getting–literally my father walked in and the real estate agent gets up and punches my dad’s lawyer in the face, sics a dog on my dad. And so you have to understand growing up as I did due two civil rights activist parents who were rough on me–they were like, ‘boy don’t walk around this house like you hit a triple you were born on third base.’ I, you know, I did what my parents told me to I got all these degrees from various schools and my dad’s like, ‘boy you got more degrees in the month of July but you ain’t hot,’ Life ain’t about the degrees you get, it is about the service you give and you owe a debt in this country and that’s why I moved to Newark New Jersey in the very first thing I started doing was housing rights, housing organizing, taking on slumlords that the cynics said, ‘you can’t beat this guy.’ They had connections to city hall. They were powerful guys. Well we organized folks right. And that’s where strength comes from and we’ve lost that in America right now. We’re where people are suffering and hurting and feeling like they’re isolated. People, whether they’re suffering with addiction or mental health, suffering because they’re a mom of a special needs kid that is barely holding on, because they can’t afford child care and they’re working two jobs and they can’t afford housing, but but but we’re not separated. We’re not suffering alone. There is mass suffering going on in our society right now. But we’re failing to see that we’re in this together. And if this election is not about waking us up to that common cause–I sat in a diner in Iowa with a guy with a make America great again shirt on. And at first I got the same bullheaded kidding. Yeah but I sat next to her and talk for a little while. I spoke to his pain. And by the end he was hugging me. If we can’t start breaking through these lines that divide us and affirm the common bond, I think we’re gonna be stuck in a broken politics for a long time. I think the next five years of our politics in America is going to determine the next 50 years of our politics and we’ve got to change course.
Jon Favreau: [00:15:14] So I–there’s part of me that thinks there is a difference between trying to reach out to Republican voters, disaffected Republicans, campaigning everywhere talking to everyone which I deeply believe in. There’s a difference between that and sort of the official Republican Party in Washington.
Cory Booker: [00:15:36] Thank you. Thank you for adding that. Yeah. I think when we use lazy labels and just say ‘Republicans,’ well, you’re roping in a whole bunch of people and they get defensive, then they lock into their tribe.
Jon Favreau: [00:15:47] Right. Yes. So you proposed some really bold ambitious policies. Medicare for All. Green New Deal. Baby bonds. Job guarantee. All really great policies…
[00:15:59] Have you guys explained baby bonds because that’s–I’m really proud of that.
[00:16:03] You do it because you should. We’ve talked about it a little bit before but you should explain.
[00:16:06] We have we have persistent inequality in this country. And my team has been looking for levers that can do that and we believe in expanding the ITC. I can give you a lot of policies right. One of the things that bothers me most about this country’s not the persistent wealth gap which is a problem but the persistent racial wealth gap. And we have cities in America like Boston where the average white family’s wealth is about two-hundred-eighty-thousand dollars. The average black family’s wealth is eight dollars. I mean we are– we are–My father said this to me, painfully. He died six days before I was elected to the United States Senate. Most most hopeful man I’ve ever met, was born poor in the Deep South, segregated community, to a single mom who couldn’t take care of him and he comes so far and he said to me I fear that I’ve gotten to a point in this country where a kid born like me–and 70 percent of my kids are born like my dad: poor, to a single mom, in a segregated community–New Jersey I think is about the fifth most segregated state in the nation because of our very racist laws going into the 1970s that tried to stop black families like me from moving into white communities–and he moaned, ‘a kid born like me, would be better off being born in 1936 than today.’ I’m a data guy so I say ‘in God we trust’ but bring me data, show me the numbers, and on a lot of indices my dad’s right. And one of them is the fact that the wealth gap was closing between blacks and whites but now it’s back to where it was around the time I was born so, baby bonds basically says that every child born in this country should have a stake in this economy and wealth is important people, live paycheck to paycheck know that, that they don’t have any wealth to fall back on for emergency or to invest in the kind of things that deepen wealth. Now black communities were denied programs that people brag about as pathways to the middle class from the G.I. bill to Social Security which was written in a way to exclude professions for blacks. A lot of things to help people sort of build wealth. FHA loans and the like were denied to African-Americans, is one of the reasons why we have persistent wealth inequalities today. And so this would help put a deposit in every child would get an account, baby bond, and every year, depending on your wealth of your family, like the ITC measures, you would get deposits. Youngest kids would get up to, the youngest from the lowest income families we get up to fifty-thousand dollars by the time they’re 18 to do things that build generational wealth, to start a business to go to college, to buy a home. And it’s one of those levers our communities, like I said, something like, ‘give me the right lever I can change the world.’ This is for those of us who want to see persistent racial inequality addressed in this country. It’s one of those things that we do that plus, for low income families in general, it would give them a stake and a leg up.
Jon Favreau: [00:18:42] Do you think there are–Do you see any Republican senators who are in the Senate right now who would give you a vote for baby bonds or vote for Green New Deal. Vote for Medicare for all, a vote for job guarantee. It’s like, say you’re president you’ve got a democratic house, you’ve got a narrowly elected hopefully Democratic Senate, do you see any Republican senators that would, that would join in on the big priorities. I know on some of the small stuff they probably would…
Cory Booker: [00:19:05] Jon, I see you. I know you’re an evangelist for things like getting to know where I’m going. I know where you’re going, I can see it a mile away and let’s just confront this. Yes I may have listened to your podcast and heard my name evoked as a symbol of the obstruction in the Democratic Party.
Jon Favreau: [00:19:25] I am an Obama guy through and through, you know that. And I am always attracted to, like, positivity unifying politicians. I feel like the Republican Party over the last decade has radicalized me a little bit. And I just…
Cory Booker: [00:19:38] But it’s not radical and you and I both know the origins of our Senate were not based on the filibuster rules. People should know their history. And so this is what I say to folks like you and to a lot of my friends who come to me and had good conversations since I announce my candidacy and got a surprise question about the filibuster in my first moments of being a candidate.
[00:19:57] Yeah thats 2019.
[00:19:58] I was like, ‘OK, filibuster rule… Let me tell you what I think.’ Look, I understand that the erosion of the Senate already has allowed this this party to do awful things, Trump’s tax cut for example. And if I was president I want people to know very tactically–Let’s talk tactics–I will use reconciliation to roll back the Trump tax credits and do the kind of things that I think, to have a tax system that reflects our our values, our morals and frankly is better for our economy. You know, giving a hedge fund guy, to be able to pay lower percent of his salary in taxes than a teacher doesn’t reflect our values nor does it reflect what’s best for our economy. And so when you talk about changing the filibuster rule I understand that we are heading, right now, we are heading that way, to people on both sides. We are heading that way. You hear Trump calling for the end of the filibuster rule and I understand that if I am the commander in chief that President of the United States, fighting a tactical battle that that is something we are moving towards. But understand my perspective on this which comes from decades of living in one of most vulnerable communities in the country. And if Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Donald Trump for the last two years had complete sway they would have just changed policy which is nice. They would have hurt people in my community. Literally doing policies that could cause people’s death. When we had a Republican governor in state in New Jersey, just something like attacking Planned Parenthood for women in my community who rely on Planned Parenthood for their health care. Planned Parenthood had to close, end hours, close options. I mean, I know that these policies that people debate– I love when people of privilledge are like, ‘it doesn’t make a difference if I vote or not’ come to my neighborhood and see the outcomes of elections. ‘Don’t make a difference.’ And to give those three men absolute power to do anything they want, having lived my life as a minority, I like minority rights and so I will balance that against– And I know because I’ve had this conversation. You fire a lot of people up on your podcast, you come to me and make very real, not evangelical arguments, very practical arguments. I’m going to tell you that for me that door is not closed.
Jon Favreau: [00:22:17] OK.
Cory Booker: [00:22:18] But I am also going to tell you that if we can’t change the larger civic spaces of our country like they did in the labor movement, like they did in the civil rights movement, where the consciousness of our country changed. If we don’t see this as opportunity to swing the pendulum from Twitter trash-talking, trolling, hateful politics where it’s just about destroying the other. If we can’t get back to an understanding, and by the way you’re talking about reaching out to disaffected Republicans using that term broadly. I’ve sat with labor leaders. Half of their base literally will say to me, ‘half of my base voted for the party that wants to destroy Davis Bacon, that wants to make what every state a right-to-work state,’ that’s not a big leap to get a person who identifies as Republican just the base of our party, the Labor base, we’re losing them. So I don’t think that we are that far away from, in these next five years of America, to having a revival of civic grace and having a more courageous empathy that understands that the farmer, the factory worker, the inner city mom, working two jobs, have common cause again and in the same way that this brilliant marketer–I mean, I mean he put the best carnival barkers to shame with the way he has branded and campaigned and spoken to folks. If we can’t have a commander in chief that understands like I had to as a mayor that it’s not just about my tactical decisions with my city council but I’ve got to change the entire perception of my city and urban issues and attract institutional capital back to my city that wouldn’t even invest in Newark, to take companies when I started talking about ending food deserts by bringing supermarkets back into the neighborhood. I’m not joking. I went to a supermarket convention and they laughed at me. I had to change the larger sentiments around Newark and right now in America, I will I will join you, Jon, should I be president of states, come back to the White House. I’m not, I’m not joking. I’m serious come back to the White House, help me with a tactician, help me to figure out what we have to change to get things done, but join me in the larger cause of our country because you and I, before you know it are my days and politics will be will be over. Look, when I’m Trump’s age it’ll be between 2040-2050. What will America look like by 2050 if we don’t change our politics, sincerely, with where we’re going?
Jon Favreau: [00:24:46] No that’s, look that’s my whole my whole issue.
Cory Booker: [00:24:50] So my whole issue is not just changing the things that are happening in the Senate that have allowed for these right wing judges to be done. They got rid of the filibuster rule in the Senate, they got rid of the blue slip process, I know I’m talking technically but as the Judiciary Committee member, senators no longer have a say. They literally are sitting with a circuit court judge that Menendez and I we’re not even allowed to meet with, from New Jersey.
Jon Favreau: [00:25:16] I guess my question is, I think you would agree that, you know, sometimes the media is like, ‘oh if only, you know, Republicans and Democrats in Washington would…’
Cory Booker: [00:25:25] Call out the media!
Jon Favreau: [00:25:25] Well I mean, that’s a whole…
Cory Booker: [00:25:26] No it’s not. It is. And don’t call them the enemy of the people. But I watch what they give oxygen to. They’re–Van Jones once told me the story that they had in Crossfire, they had this idea that the end they’re gonna do cease fire and talk about where they agree.
Jon Favreau: [00:25:43] I’m sure that didn’t fly.
Cory Booker: [00:25:44] It did not fly on CNN, because the people who took over the show–afterwards a producer, do you want to end on a high end with audience, right. And they had that seamless transition where one host talks to the next host. So that you don’t lose audience. They were ticked off because the Ceasefire segments went way down in terms of ratings.
Jon Favreau: [00:26:03] This is what I’m talking about. I don’t think this is an issue of personalities, right. Like if only Obama had had more talks with Mitch McConnell things would’ve been…there are clearly incentive structures for Republican politicians that we need to change right now. One of those is the media, right, there’s a conservative media machine right…
Cory Booker: [00:26:18] But there’s no false equivalency here at all because it’s far worse on their side, their incentive structure on our…
Jon Favreau: [00:26:25] Bu t they feel, Republican politicians feel more afraid of a primary challenge than they do a general election challenge. And part of that is because jerrymandering.
Cory Booker: [00:26:33] When primary became a verb the Republican Party changed dramatically.
Jon Favreau: [00:26:36] And I’m wondering, like, how we change the incentive structure for the Republican Party?I remember Obama always used to say to me during the 2012 election, ‘if we win this election, the fever will break in Washington, finally the fever will break.’ The fever did not break. And it hasn’t not broken, obviously.
Cory Booker: [00:26:50] And I’m gonna tell you again all I know is about being a grassroots organizer. I beat the machine in Newark through grassroots organizing. Texas is a blue state. It’s not voting that way yet because we haven’t built a 50-state- party right. I was shocked in Iowa and New Hampshire, (I’m not the best fundraiser in the world) but that I led outside candidates raising money in those two states and they were incredibly appreciative. Well dear god, you don’t think that the issues we’re talking about right now in Iowa where they haven’t just assaulted Davis Bacon they’ve found a loophole. They literally were pushing a law that says if you file a workman’s compensation claim and you lose the claim then you could be held criminally liable. I mean the stuff they’re doing to public education on that. And I was having honest talk with folks when I was in Iowa this last week that we can get a president, but if you don’t change your legislature, if you don’t build, most of these issues we’re talking about, I could do some things about public education when I’m a president–I can fully fund special needs education. I can create a tax relief for teachers who reach in their own pockets and give money as I see in Newark all the time, thousands of dollars, hundreds of dollars for their kids. I can forgive loans for people willing to teach in rural areas urban areas–I can do a lot of that. But fundamentally, there’s an assault going on in public education in your state that only can be stopped by electing folks. I believe fundamentally. And maybe I’m wrong but if I’m president of the united states, this is where I’m starting. There are all these people that want to support the new president. I’m going to tell folks: what we need to do is create a 50-state organizing strategy to start preparing for 2022 when people like Mikey Sherrill and all these other folks are going to have their back against the wall that shouldn’t if we organize because I’ve seen this in the response to Trump. The response to Trump has been, ‘hey let’s organize.’ I met with this amazing table of women leaders in my state and there were women I’ve known for a long time, heads of organizations like NOW. And then there was these young millennial women with thousands of people in New Jersey organized on their Facebook page, who openly admit, some of them to me as I meet them around the country, that, ‘I wasn’t that engaged or involved before Donald Trump.’ And if we don’t sustain that kind of organizing we could turn Texas,, heck I think we could turn Texas in 2020 but definitely in 2022 just by organizing people. You go to communities like Newark or Wayne County where Detroit is or Philly and really engage with African-American community. I’m talking in the way we do in Newark. When we were organizing elections, talking to their issues, actually connecting them to the policies that could help our communities, you are going to get African-American turnout to go up in midterm elections. And so I understand a lot of what you’re saying, is because we look at the way things have gone in the past. But one of the things I hated most when I was mayor of the city of Newark is people would tell me you can’t do something because we tried this and it didn’t work or this is the way we’ve always done it and it’s never work. It takes new approaches, creative thinking, to create real transformations and and forgive me for going on but I just want to just give you this example of: we’re the Internet generation. We have tools our parents never had. I was sitting at home watching The Tonight Show when Conan O’Brien was on it and he did what ticks me off the most is when people kick communities are already down. And he said, ‘I here in Newark New Jersey has this new health care program.’ I was really proud I was able to drive prescription drug costs down in my city for a community and get people into primary care which is really good for health and driving down health care costs. And it got a little national attention and here comes Conan O’Brien in his monologue and he says, ‘I hear Newark New Jersey has this great new health care program. Well I think the best new health care program for the city of Newark is a bus ticket out of town. I’m the mayor of the city sitting there watching TV hanging out with my two best friends Ben and Jerry, and and and and just lost it. But you know what I did? Because this is the reputation of Newark as a laugh line. People were cracking up. I hear it about Cincinnati. I hear it about Detroit. I hear about places where dark and black and brown people live all the effing time and and and and it pisses me off. But you know what? I’m different. A generation ago or not even five years before that the best an angry mayor could have done– and my mayors did that–my previous mayors in Newark did write an angry letter to the network and then interns in turn would read it, you know, or they can call a press conference and only channel 72, the Bulgarian channel would show up. But we live in a different era. I went to my office and I sat there behind my desk and I used some humor and I use some straight. I said, ‘look this is Newark New Jersey. You know we are a great city,’ bragging about my city and to Conan O’Brien I’m banning you from Newark’s airport. I said, ‘you were on the no fly list tried JFK buddy.’ And guess what happened. That video went viral. Before I know what I’m getting earned media like I never got before and he plays right into my hands. He doesn’t apologize. He bans me from Burbank Airport. And here we are in L.A. and you know…
Jon Favreau: [00:31:49] You flew into LAX.
Cory Booker: [00:31:50] That’s right. I’m and LAX guy. That’s no big deal. But we started this fight that I was getting media like, suddenly I’m calling supermarket companies and they’ve heard about this stuff and they’re answering my call. I’m getting the big banks to talk to me now about investing in a city they ignored because capital in this country is so damn lazy. Five metropolitan areas get the overwhelming majority of investment. By the end of the fight, this kerfuffle that became a national story, as I’m going on you know Larry King and shows that I was never going on before, he invites me on his show, he apologizes and gives one-hundred thousand dollars to Newark charities. So I’m just saying that as an example of, we are a different generation. I sometimes like to imagine if the civil rights generation had the kind of organizing tools that we have. We could– we’ve had presidents now from you know, even even Barack is older than I am. You know we’ve had folks from different generations. Our generation can’t concede that we are gonna be a nation where people with common interest and common pain are cut up and divided. And so I will I will. I’m not joking about this. If I’m president Jon, you’re gunna be like, ‘that Booker guy is calling me up to help me with tacticians but my challenge to you is going to be let’s use podcasts like this to call shit out. You know look at the House bill they just passed that got lost in all the things the media wanted to cover…
Jon Favreau: [00:33:12] H.R. 1.
Cory Booker: [00:33:13] Yeah, do you know what the polls had to say about that…
Jon Favreau: [00:33:16] Very popular.
Cory Booker: [00:33:18] Amongst Republicans!
Jon Favreau: [00:33:20] Well but you know, what got me, probably the worst moment of the Obama years for me the most frustrating moment is a background check bill with 90 percent support in the public sponsored by conservative Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Joe Manchin, no one’s idea of a liberal, goes down a couple months after a school shooting and I was like if if we can’t pass something that’s that popular among Democrats, independents, and Republicans that has bipartisan support. What has happened? Where do we go from there? And how do we change?
Cory Booker: [00:33:52] But you understand you’re saying this in the context of a guy who grew up with stories about how many frickin times they tried to get civil rights legislation passed. And did anybody say, ‘we tried once and it failed. So let’s not try voting rights or civil rights or housing or fair housing,’ and they kept fighting and building consensus. And even with the Senate filibuster…
Jon Favreau: [00:34:14] Do you worry that our generation is more impatient? I feel like technology has made us a little more impatient.
Cory Booker: [00:34:19] Impatience is good. It’s good, cynicism is bad. Anger is good. OK. Hate is bad.
Jon Favreau: [00:34:26] There are differences that people get, people get disappointed when change doesn’t happen fast enough and then they turn away. And I’m always trying to say to people like, ‘yeah, it takes a long time.’ Democrats didn’t do anything. They failed me too. And you’re like well yeah it takes a long time…
Cory Booker: [00:34:40] Well let me tell you my favorite cynical moment. My favorite cynical moment I had recently is and this is the politics of our– and you know professional politics works– I’m running for, I’m now running from an urban city. And most people don’t know this, I’m the fourth popularly elected black guy, black person in the United States history. Number three was Obama. Number two was Carol Moseley Braun no one was Edmund Brook. And so it’s there has been that many black people in the Senate. And so you get these professionals that come to you and say well, ;don’t talk about these–you’re talking about criminal justice reform everywhere you go.’ And almost like you’re trying to imply to you that this is an issue that’s only affecting black people which, which by the way if you are living in a country that’s watched your your infrastructure crumble from one area–I was in Poland and a Polish peer of mine, as a senator, was telling me, and this was one of those moments I had to control my tight end instincts and not create an international incident, who was bragging to me about their mass transit or whatever he’s talking about and, ‘you Americans.’ We built out the best infrastructure in all of humanity, while our bridges, tunnels, no broadband, China’s building 18000 miles of high speed rail. But what we were building out was was prisons and jails. Prisons and jails! We were building a new prison or jail in America every ten days from the time I was in law school to the time I was mayor of the city of Newark. And so here, here they’re telling me because I’m now running in a state that’s overwhelmingly white. Blacks are 12, 13 percent and they’re like, ‘Don’t talk. We polled the state. Don’t talk about criminal justice reform.’ You know it’s not one of the top two or three issues you need to talk about X Y and Z and, ‘I’d like leaders don’t follow consensus, real leaders mold consensus’ so everywhere I went from synagogues to wealthy suburbs, Republican communities, Democrat communities, I wanted people to know why this is breaking. So I get to Washington and then people want to give me a reality check. ‘Well, you can’t pass comprehensive criminal justice reform, you can’t do it.’ And I said, ‘OK. This is a challenge to me not to surrender to cynicism.’ I still remember. And and maybe I’m telling you too much, but I knew Chuck Grassley was key and I’m like, ‘How can I find some common ground with the guy that I can write a dissertation on my disagreements with? So one day you know how they– they’re like, ‘you get to preside over the Senate race,’ and I’m one of the most junior guys but I’m literally sitting there at the Senate and by the way it is like one of these things that will blow your mind if you’re a geek because they have like the gavel that was used from the 17 hundereds that you could open it up and I’m like trying to get some DNA on that thing. And anyway and I’m watching Chuck Grassley come to the floor and I’ve watched him give speeches now that just rankle me and he starts talking about wind tax credits and I’m like wait a minute. Common ground. And I go to him, ‘Mr. Grassley Sir,’–the older senators often tell me ‘call me by my first name’ and I’m like you are literally, I was watching you in high school. And and and we started talking I go to his office I said ‘help me understand why you go to the Senate floor and talk about longer sentences and not shorter.’ And it took me years with the heroic leadership of Dick Durbin and me trying to be his Mini Me and running around building consensus and fighting to get things that were really important to me like, we do things, we’re doing things right now as you and I are sitting here there are children having been convicted of things, that are in solitary confinement right now which psychological professionals call torture. And until we get this bill with with my priorities in there and we get it done. We get it passed. So what I’m telling you is that that’s too slow for me, because it’s just as bad as the ice cold as a first step. But I tell you I brought the guy to the State of the Union, Mr. Douglas, who had a life sentence for crack cocaine weighing less than baseball. A life sentence. We liberated thousands of people with that piece of legislation during an era of Willie Horton where people are getting out of jail. In an era of Willie Horton we got it done. And so don’t, don’t tell me that we can’t collectively– we’ve got the best, on our party the best branding experts and are using them for materialism and corporatism and everything. Don’t tell me with the young people I’m meeting out there who are not taking that vote that you talked about that failed in the Senate. You talk to these folks coming out of parkland and communities like mine who are determined to pass commonsense gun safety. I just believe we can get things done especially if we can get more folk woke that they are living in a nation that that brags about being the wealthiest country on the planet Earth but has a declining life expectancy, that used to have the best infrastructure on the planet Earth and in the span of one generation trashed that house they inherited from their parents in handing it over. No. When I talk to groups like this everybody agrees. I’m not joking. I mean there may be that 5, 10 percent that we can’t ever get to. And so what is our politics going to be? And that’s why I’ll die on this hill in this presidential campaign. I literally will. Maybe some people are going to want folks to fight fire with fire. I ran a fire department. It’s not a really good strategy. OK I’m going to die on this hill because I want this to be more than about just one guy in one office, because my communities were suffering before this guy got elected and so were factory towns and so were farm towns and so we’re people that were easily easily angry and then felt some appeal with some guy that wanted to blame it on Mexicans and Muslims and others and lie to people about trade because he’s not doing anything about it, lied to people about Medicare that he just put a budget in the cuts. We could reach back out and get those people together and awaken that worker and by the way I cannot stand how working, ‘we’re going to get the working people,’ that’s just people in my community in Newark. But we can get workers to see common cause,we can get people in different areas of our nation is the common cause. And that’s what I want this election to be about again. And by the way I’m betting you, and I hope to have a chance to prove this, to be the guy that gets run against Trump to be the person who gets to run against Trump, I bet you that not only is this a strategy that this country needs. I think it’s actually the best tactical strategy to beat a bully. Watch Street Fight. I’ll show you how that strategy, the strategy of dignity and grace, can actually win in the toughest of politics.
Jon Favreau: [00:41:05] I thought about this interview, after, in the wake of the New Zealand shooting because you know, you have this very powerful message of radical love. What do you do as president about rising white nationalism and xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism? You know, I’m just, how do you fight that?– Because obviously, you know, that has been fueled by Donald Trump and I know you would agree that’s been around far before Donald Trump and it’s been a problem before then. What can you actually do as president about that?
Cory Booker: [00:41:37] So first of all let’s again understand that, and this is why I think it’s good to go back and read from the era of which I sprang forth. I’m the child of the civil rights generation. You know there’s some great books written about King’s radicalism. We’ve created this tip as Cornel West as a Santa Claus a vacation of king right. He was a really radical guy who died with 60 percent disapproval ratings. And I love what he used to say about love. He used to say you know, ‘you can’t legislate someone to love me. And that’s why I need you to put some things in place to protect me.’ That’s why I was so proud that Tim Scott, Kamala Harris, and I were able to push forward an anti lynching-bill through the Senate after hundreds of times trying. And so the first thing a president has got to do is protect people. In the LGBTQ community, we have about 30 percent of our children reporting not going to school because of fear. We have a Department of Education and this is one of the reasons I fought so hard against Betsy DeVos that I knew she was going to trash the Civil Rights Division of Department– literally doing the things to protect from her policies, turning her back on the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses to turning her back on LGBTQ rights and the rights of black and brown vulnerable kids. This is why as president not only from the Department of Education Civil Rights Division to the Department of Justice that should be investigating these white supremacist groups that the president and state can’t even admit that there’s rising hate and rising anti-Semitism and rising Islamophobia in this country. And so you have to be a president that that speaks to the problems we have had since 9/11. I think around 80-ish terrorist attacks on our country. The majority of them have been homegrown right-wing extremist groups. The majority of those have been white supremacists. For all the billions and billions of dollars we’re spending to protect Americans from quote unquote terrorism we need to focus on domestic terrorists.
Jon Favreau: [00:43:30] Would you make sure that you appointed an attorney general who would go after white nationalism? Would you try to increase funding to make sure that we are investigating…
Cory Booker: [00:43:37] Well you know Trump has cut funding to investigate white nationalist groups at a time that the violence is coming out of these white nationalist groups so yeah I would and have a lot– as well as a lawyer, again, who came up because of the protections that were given by the DOJ. We need to have a Department of Justice that is dealing with violence and crime including police shootings. What you have big city police chiefs talking about needing to create greater senses of accountability for law enforcement that the Department of Justice can be doing so much to create safety and security is can humanities and to restore confidence in the criminal justice system that we are fairly pursuing injustice wherever it exists.
Jon Favreau: [00:44:29] We have spent a lot of the past month talking about anti-Semitism. And one of the issues raised in the many debates we’ve had is really a foreign policy issue. Should Democrats be more willing to call out the Israeli government when there is a prime minister who’s made it his policy that there will not be a Palestinian state as long as he is in power?
Cory Booker: [00:44:55] So the short answer is yes. Yeah, if you’re–Whatever the country is we should have the courage to speak with a moral voice. I often worry that Israel gets a treatment that is not applied to other countries that are, this is why I will never support the BDS movment because I think it is–Call out their actions that when they’re doing things. But dear God you’re living in a neighborhood where nobody is calling for a boycott movement for China which is doing things tom many things to go through them. But the erosion of the ability for us to even get to a two-state solution is erosion of a bipartisan consensus we’ve had in this country for a long time, for a long time. This idea that that we should have the self-determination of people that both Palestinians and Israelis should have their own, their own country and be able to have self-determination and so you know on the Senate Foreign Nation Committee I have fought against Trump efforts. Trump’s administration efforts to pull back humanitarian support from from the Palestinian communities. I have gone to the West Bank. I’ve seen just [no] access to clean water to basic human rights. We’ve got to be there. We’ve got to also make sure that Israelis have a right to defend themselves and to keep them safe secure and we’ve got to be able to have conversations about things like, oh, that are kind of as complicated as Mideast peace and something more than just slogans, and talk about the nuance of these issues and always lead with what our values are.
Jon Favreau: [00:46:27] Would you put any additional diplomatic pressure on Israel, as president, if they refused to engage in a good faith discussion about a two-state solution?
[00:46:38] I think that we’ve had presidents from both parties who have put lots of diplomatic pressure on Israel. And again it’s very hard to negotiate where we don’t, where there the leadership in the Palestinian community not necessarily even leadership you can negotiate with. It doesn’t necessarily speak for all the various factions. So absolutely but I continually want to remind folks that you know Hamas and Hezbollah who are plotting every single day to kill Israelis and now that Trump, who says he’s strong on Iran, has basically given Iran a highway through Syria with more sophisticated weapons now going to Lebanon. These are existential everyday threats to the Israelis as there are everyday threats for Palestinians just to get basic health care and clean water and basic rights and so there is an urgency for us to play a role in the Middle East with our most critical ally, the Israelis, so that we can affirm democratic ideals and principles.
Jon Favreau: [00:47:38] What do you see as our greatest national security threat?
Cory Booker: [00:47:42] Again you know I’m going to tick through things I think are threats but then I’m going to answer the question in the way that you may now expect but maybe not. So climate change is a existential threat. When you read military reports about what they expect to happen when I’m Trump’s age, what will go on in the planet Earth should we fail to deal with climate change the instability, the famines, the chaos, on the planet Earth–it’s going to happen. And in the United States to vulnerable communities like mine. This is an existential planetary threat that would call–you think refugee problems are refugee problems now? And we have not seen a hint of what could happen if we don’t deal with this issue. So that’s a definitely a threat. I can tick through more. I think we are going through a planetary battle between authoritarian governments and democratic governments and democratic governments have had a very tough five or so years from Brexit to what the Russians are doing, aggressively. Talk to people who live in Latvia or Estonia, Lithuania. Ask them if they don’t feel like they are in a grey war right now with the Soviets, excuse me, flashback, with the Russians. So I can go through more threats. I think that for people not to see…
Jon Favreau: [00:49:07] How do we win the battle against authoritarianism–rising authoritarianism around the world?
Cory Booker: [00:49:12] Let’s win that battle at home, first.
[00:49:15] Fair enough.
[00:49:15] Let’s fight against authoritarian right here where we have a president that sounds like authoritarian, the guy is authoritarian. The enemy of the people even “lock-her-up.” I mean chants like that, we’ve heard them in our history. People are forgetting that we are coming, and this is why historical amnesia really bothers me. We’ve heard the same anti-immigrant rhetoric from a viable national party called the know-nothings. That that came out against the scourge of the invasion of the immigrant–this time they are talking about Irish-Catholics. OK? Every generation history echoes, we’ve seen demagoguery. Father Conklin. I could go through that. Every generation has had their demagogues. And we’ve beat them back in the name of more democracy not less democracy. And so first of all I always say before you tell me about your religion for show it to me in how you treat other people. We preach a civic gospel. It’s in our songs. It’s in our–we all swear an oath. Think about back me in the days where one military beat the other ones to say swear an oath of loyalty. Oath used to have a lot of power. We do it every day. Not even thinking about the word we’re uttering from our mouth. We say, ‘I swear this oath to liberty and justice for all.’ Well, we live in a country with rampant injustice, environmental, economic, criminal injustices that when they’re revealed make people squirm. I’m talking about even animal rights. I’m sorry, I’m an animal rights guy. They’re trying to pass laws so that people won’t even see what’s going on to animals in this country called ag-gag laws because Americans aren’t comfortable with injustice when they see it but somehow we’ve stopped seeing. Let’s just focus right here at home and this gets me to the existential threat that I really think is the existential threat: Because when a country can’t do the things that 80 and 90 percent of people agree on, and I know you might try to use this as again to push me on the filibuster …
Jon Favreau: [00:51:10] I’m done I’m done, don’t worry.
Cory Booker: [00:51:11] And again, come in to my tactical circle should I be present United States and you and I will have real real conversations about it.
Jon Favreau: [00:51:18] Walkin through the Senate convinving Chuck Schumer and all the rest of them to to get rid of it.
Cory Booker: [00:51:21] Yeah. You and I will have real talk about what it’s going to take. And your first obstacles don’t have to do with Republic.
Jon Favreau: [00:51:27] Right, believe me I know.
Cory Booker: [00:51:29] But but but for us to be a country right now that has allowed the dangerous delusion of divisiveness that somehow the the woman that works for United Airlines, Latina woman in my city, and by the way doesn’t work for United Airlines, she cleans their planes, she delivers her food, but she works for an outsourced company that suppresses her wages, gives her no retirement security, that she has a different cause for her life than the guy in the factory town that just saw his job disappear to a country with no labor protections or the farmer who is got a CAFO as as a literal farmer said to me, a Republican farmer was telling me about that the CAFO was down the street from his farm, poison his well that he used to drink from–his ‘crick’. I think that’s pronouncing it right, that he used to fish from, that those three people don’t have aligned urgent common causes that are that are affecting their lives in the most pernicious anti-democratic ways. If we can’t awaken this country to that Common Cause where that Latino that black factory worker like my grandfather was UAW in Detroit that that automobile worker now or that steel worker or that coal miner that don’t have common cars with the farmer if we can’t in our politics and our civic spaces get people back to understanding then that is going to be an existential threat because the things that we need to do–I hear your podcast. I’m sorry. You use labels like progressive or out there on the left–Where I live–my staff was showing you a tweet I put out when I was mayor calling for health care for everybody. These aren’t radical ideas to me. They’re efficiencies. They are things that are not at all…But we’ve allowed our politics to be distorted and shifted in a way where we’re doing things that are so stupid. Let me give you an example: because I had to, there is a big advantage I think for the next president to have had to run something. I was a mayor. I had to govern a city right, roughly billion dollars budget and capital budget–I can go through it–through the worst recession of our lifetime which by the way they call a recession for the country for inner cities it’s a depression and I had to make decisions like I’ve heard you say about President Obama, ‘there’s no good decisions.’ There’s no good decisions. So I laugh at people who call themselves fiscal conservatives. I had to cut my government because there’s nobody in the Senate. There’s county executives there, governors and mayors there. They cut their governments as much as me. I cut my government twenty five percent and raise taxes to get through the economic hell and had to figure out a way to bring tens of thousands of jobs to my city. Now we did. Newark is going through its biggest economic demonstration. I thought creative ways we–a lot of folks helped us–thought of a way out of that nightmare. But we had to stay in the saddle and make tough as hell decisions. But one of the things that came out of that was me always saying, ‘if we can create uncommon coalitions we are going to create uncommon results.’ And in Newark I had these incredible moments where you had unions and and there are some incredible guys from the building trades that I worked with and we had some tough arguments, arguments you know why? Because again I’m a black guy living in Newark which, the majority black and brown city and the unions didn’t reflect my city. And these really good people were receptive to me saying that if you’re going to build the first hotel in 40 years in Newark which we built, now we’ve got 4 of them. God bless Roz Baraka. That that construction is going to have to be done by people when they drive by that work site. They see folk they know from the neighborhood. And so they got people around table that were willing to create apprenticeship programs for me, for my kids. They’re willing to agree to 30 hours to get banks that we malign, OK, and I will malign the behavior that crashed our economy. I will go after them. I think some independent group looked at people and showed that my record in fighting against big banks, that times I’ve voted with big banks was zero, they said. But when I needed to get institutional capital to build that hotel that could employ hundreds of people in my city, to get my kids in apprenticeship programs, I brought them to the table as well. I brought community leaders to the table because we all are afraid of gentrification. Ross Baraka just had a big conference on it because Newark is now coming back. Our population is growing. When I left Newark to become a senator for the first time in 60 years our population was growing so we want community leaders there to know that that they can help us organize, they can help us make sure that this isn’t gentrification, that we pass first source legislation in Newark to say: when anybody’s hiring in our city they have to look to local leaders. They agree to hire guys with criminal convictions because hey, lots of drugs being used on Stanford’s campus but nobody’s getting arrested for it. But in my community you walk. I’ve done this with a reporter before walk the streets stop and fellows asking have they ever been arrested? What they’ve been arrested for? Most Americans don’t realize in 2017 there were more marijuana arrests for possession than all the violent crime arrests.
Jon Favreau: [00:56:33] And you just announced yesterday that you want their records expunged. Not only marijuana legalized.
Cory Booker: [00:56:37] I get a little upset when people want to talk about marijuana legalization which I’m all for. I am all for, but they don’t talk in the same breath about justice. Restorative justice. Things like expunging records giving people in prison pathways out allowing people to benefit from the business opportunity of being created.
Jon Favreau: [00:56:56] Is expunged in the record something you need…Is that legislative or is that something that you’d have to pass a bill for that?
Cory Booker: [00:57:01] I’d to pass a bill.
Jon Favreau: [00:57:02] Yeah, last question: What do you think the biggest obstacle in the way of fixing this system is? What is the source of all this division and what has happened to our politics? Like what, what are you fighting against here?
Cory Booker: [00:57:18] The opposite of justice is not simply injustice it’s apathy, it’s indifference, and it’s inaction. I am blown away by young people right now in this country and how they want to work in jobs with the companies have values and morals, the creativity the artistry. But we still see voting rates at 20, 30 percent and young folk, if you ask them about college debt, if you ask them about climate change, if they voted you would see– and you and I both know that there are, there might be some people in the Republican Party that pander to or politicians in general, I don’t want to point fingers–that suddenly if they know that they’re going to face in the next election 50 percent in the midterm of young people voting, not at 20 percent, do you think that that would change people’s politics real quick?
Jon Favreau: [00:58:10] Yeah, that would change incentives.
Cory Booker: [00:58:11] Yeah that would change incentives. And so there is nothing that is wrong with American democracy that can’t be solved with more American democracy. And what I mean by that is that our democracy is not a spectator sport to get more people in the game. And so I understand that there are people in this country that look at a person like me and and it fills them with hate and bigotry and I see what the Republican Party’s voice on Fox News wants to try to make people believe about many of us Democrats but I just want folks to know that please please don’t make this a small election about one office and one guy. And as bad, as bad, as bad as the things he’s doing are, this is a moral moment in America again. And if we can ignite something in this election if we can have, and if it’s not me, if we can have a leader that could ignite other leaders that could create not not an election but a larger campaign for this country. If we can reconceive ourselves as framers because if you don’t think that Ella Baker and Mary McLeod Bethune and Martin Luther King or let’s go to the folks like Frederick Douglass were framers–because the original framers didn’t kind of include them. So they were reframers. We now have to frame this country again. We have to take full responsibility. There’s a choice we have to make every day in our lives. It’s to accept things as they are or take responsibility for changing them. That woman, Virginia Jones, when I asked her after her son was murdered, ‘why do you still stay in these projects? I know where you live and all the money you make.’ And she looks at me and goes, ‘why?’ Almost indignant at the question. She had this defiant love that was always up in your face. ‘Why do you still stay here Ms Jones?’ She looks at me she goes, ‘because I’m in charge of homeland security.’ I mean she knew she couldn’t secure the whole world but she was gonna be in charge homeland security for that block. If more of us say I’m in charge… You know Alice Paul did not wait for Washington. She was a first person was ever arrested in front the White House. Force fed. Force fed. When she was in prison because she went on hunger strikes. If we take responsibility for our democracy and make this election a referendum on the direction of this country, a referendum of spirit, a revival of grace. If we can do that in this election and I’m going to call for this. I’m a progressive. I’m a tactical guy. I was a mayor. I had to figure out how to create safer streets, create better schools and we did in Newark. But the thing that allow that to happen was to get everybody from late night talk show hosts to foundations to unions to reimagine the city with me. Well we need to reimagine America right now because all the things we hope for and dream for in this country are at stake right now. The planet is in peril. We’ve been told we have 12 years and i’s not clicking totalitarianism is on the rise. Our country is being attacked right now by the Russians. We’re finding all kind of insidious ways. I’ve read the reports of what they want to do. They want to make us suspect the truth. They want to make us lose faith in our institutions. They want to make us be pitted against each other. They literally are. I’ve watched the bots. They’re trying to foist us to make us hate each other more. If we can’t now revive that grace, put more as I always say on the stump, ‘put more indivisible back into this one nation under God.’ If we miss this opportunity, yeah Democrats might win some elections in the future but we are not going to change the country in the broadscale way we need to do that gives labor back dignity, that makes health care a right and child poverty a wrong, that makes public schools not a little better but transforms public education and schools into cathedrals of learning for every child not having their lives determined by the zip codes they’re born in. We can do all these things it’s not a matter of can we. It’s do we have the collective will. And so I’m going to talk to that spirit in this country amidst more and more cynicism admits more and more people that just want to blow folk up or tell me that, ‘Oh I hope you punch Donald Trump in the face.’ I’ve said, ‘I don’t know if that’s a good look for a former tight end, Stanford young guy punching out our elderly president. I want this to be an election that is a referendum of spirit and in my opinion a revolution of spirit in this country like I saw from my parents generation or on the civil rights movement, like I saw from my grandparents generation around the labor movement. We can, we can do that again.
Jon Favreau: [01:03:00] Well, I very much share that hope and I’m very glad you’re running like that.
Cory Booker: [01:03:03] Be a prisoner of hope.
Jon Favreau: [01:03:05] I will. I’m there. OK Cory Booker thank you so much for joining.
Cory Booker: [01:03:08] Thank you, appreciate it so much.
Jon Favreau: [01:03:10] Thanks.
Cory Booker: [01:03:10] All right.