Cory Booker on the Democratic Party: 'We Seem to Have Lost Our Way'

August 3, 2018

Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) said at Netroots Nation 2018 that the Democratic Party seems to have lost its connection to the people they wish to represent.

Booker's remarks came while discussing how he was inspired years ago to appreciate the importance of understanding and connecting with the people who elect him to office.

"I always say I got my B.A. from Stanford but my Ph.D on the streets of Newark," Booker told the audience to appreciative hollers.

He talked at length about Carl Sharif, an activist who became a powerful activist in the Islamic community, and the advice he gave to Booker as an aspiring politician.

"He said, 'Cory, you need to go out. You're not going to win this election unless you go out and knock on every single door in the district and have a conversation with every single person,'" Booker recounted.

'"You come with a lot of spirit, a lot of energy, but this city doesn't need a savior,'" Booker says Sharif told him. "'The city needs someone who is going to connect with community, someone who is going to be an ally, someone who is going to be a partner, someone who is going to connect to folks.'"

"That's where power comes from! There are a lot of folks who have even stopped even participating in municipal elections because they don't believe their vote matters. You have got to talk to folks where they are; you have got to humble yourself at their alter, understanding, and experience," Booker said.

Booker highlighted the need for Democrats to cultivate such a connection.

"I think a lot about the Democratic Party nationally and how it seems that that connection to people – where they are, what their experiences are, their struggles, their hurt, and their pain – how we seem to have lost our way," Booker said. "What we need to be doing is reconnecting ourselves to folks where they are."

Booker added the Democratic Party is "good for nothing" if it doesn't stand up for the values and issues his grandfather believed in.

The senator's rhetoric on the Democratic Party and how it contrasts with the Republican Party have not always been consistent in recent months. In July, Booker told progressive activists to "get up in the face of some congresspeople" despite telling people earlier that Americans "need to stop the bulls--t partisanship."

The New Jersey senator's rousing Netroots speech, as well as a recent trip to Georgia to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, are continued signs to many he is weighing a 2020 presidential run.