It’s Day One of Senator Cory Booker’s “Justice for All” tour and it’s also Tax Day. Booker focuses on his economic justice and his “Rise Credit” tax plan, which extends the earned income tax credit to the benefit of what the campaign says will be 15 million Americans lifted out of poverty. He pitches an increase in capital gains tax and reversing the Trump corporate tax cuts.
Booker — whose mother was the “daughter of Iowans” — gives a convincing (to Democrats) talk on his economic vision of uplifting the poor and middle class, but before too long he switches gears to talk about his favorite topic: love. He defends his love strategy and makes it not about a naive idea that love makes the world go round. Instead, he imbues his idea of love with toughness and power, not weakness. He sells love as an antidote to the laziness and lack of creativity of hate.
It’s nuanced and it’s delivered with a passion that builds, and, while some of us who have seen him speak for years, know where this is going, he crescendos with his story about visiting the Lorraine Motel in Memphis and reading the quote that’s inscribed on the site of MLK’s assassination: “Here cometh the dreamer; let us slay him and we shall see what becomes of his dreams.”
For this mostly white crowd, that landed like a gut punch. Several people were visibly moved by it. Booker grabbed them and shook them with a challenge to dream together, etc. He’s done this a hundred times before, but it was new to this crowd and, as a close, it was hard to beat. It ended in a standing ovation and a lovefest of selfies and hugs that felt a little like that period after church when the minister greets everybody as they’re leaving. Instead of “See you next Sunday,” he reminds the congregants that they can sign a commitment to caucus for him in February. — David Cruz