Booker talks bipartisanship and advocates for gun control, baby bonds

Kristen Su, Staff Writer

On Thursday, January 2, the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College held their second Politics Unplugged session with democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker to discuss his platform and interact with the common public. 

Booker, currently a New Jersey senator, was previously the Mayor of Newark, NJ from 2006 to 2013. He announced his candidacy in the 2020 presidential race in February 2019.

Booker was introduced by Will Stewart, the executive director of an organization called Stay Work Play NH, which is a nonprofit dedicated to recruiting more people from younger generations to stay and work in NH. Additionally, the community liaison of the Manchester Health Department Victoria Adewumi was also moderating the event.

The session was held in a question and answer format, where Stewart and Adewumi posed inquiries concerning Booker’s positions and propositions for the country in his possible presidency. Although the event was not an open forum for inquiries, two audience members were given the opportunity to ask Booker a single question each, following Stewart and Adewumi.

Booker spoke mainly about the toxicity among the various political parties and the need for people to cooperate in order to get things done. He champions love and understanding in the political world, especially in terms of the divide between members of different political backgrounds. In particular, he points out that gun control is something that many people agree is necessary, but he believed that not enough has been done in terms of laws and regulations.

“We send our children to school with the implicit message ‘we can’t protect you and so we’re going to teach you how to hide.’ There are more shelter-in-place drills in the United States of America right now than there are fire drills. And it’s not because we don’t agree. 86% of NRA members agree on universal background checks, and we can’t pass that legislation because we have so many divisions where we hate each other just because we vote differently. We need healing in this country,” Booker said. 

In addition, Booker campaigned for the people to get involved in building bridges with one another, arguing that the government alone will not fix the political schisms that divide the country as a whole.

I’m warning you right now: if I’m your president, I’m going to ask more from you than any president has ever asked from you in your lifetime. Because change does not come from Washington. […] Lots of countries have great constitutions, but they fail. […] Our founding documents were kind of flawed. […] What has made our documents live is the values of the people of our country,” Booker said.

Booker continues to call attention to the importance of people getting involved by giving the example of a homeless man on the streets asking him for an extra pair of socks. Although Booker himself did not have any extra pairs of socks, Booker recounts that a friend pulled off the socks that he was wearing and handed them to the man. As a result, Booker calls attention to the need to understand each other better as human beings.

“Everyday life gives you moments to break against the grain of where our civic spaces seem to be headed these days and manifest the best of who we are—and don’t think that every small action doesn’t have power. […] Our society is suffering from a severed sense of belonging right now. We need to repair that, and it’s not just the duty of the president,” Booker said.

Booker’s platform focuses on bridging the gap between the wealthy and the impoverished. Much of this is focused around creating equal opportunities for success and a well-off lifestyle, regardless of economic background. 

Part of his plan for closing the wealth gap is baby bonds. The idea of baby bonds is that all infants in the U.S. will be given $1,000 at birth and each year up until age eighteen, money will be added to that initial deposit based on socioeconomic status. Then, at age eighteen, people will be handed money from the Treasury to be used for education, buying a home, or investing in a business.

Booker namely hopes to help millennials offset the cost of schooling.

“The federal government profiting billions of dollars off of the student loan program. They’re making money off of the backs of young people. That’s going to end if I’m president of the United States and we’re going to make sure that we use that to reduce the debt for all Americans,” Booker said. 

Booker also promises to help make housing more affordable, especially for young people, citing his experiences as mayor of Newark as a reason that he would be able to pull this off as president.

“I was the mayor in the middle of the global recession and during the housing crisis, and yet I said, ‘I’m going to double the production of affordable housing in my city even though a lot of the streams that build affordable housing were disappearing.’ And we found all kinds of creative ways to stimulate [affordable housing]. That experience is going to make me a president that knows how to get affordable housing built. […] It’s what we can do to make America livable for everybody,” Booker said.

Booker has a national polling average of 2%, according to the New York Times. In the most recent polling of NH voters by MassINC Polling Group, 1% stated that they would show their support for Booker in the NH Primary on February 11. Booker has yet to qualify for the next Democratic debate.