Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0

US Sen. Cory Booker announced today that he's ending his campaign for president after disappointing fundraising and not getting strong enough poll numbers for the next Democratic primary debate. Now he'll just have to settle for being the sexiest man in the Senate, although it's entirely possible that, at 50, the New Jersey whippersnapper just might still have a long political career ahead of him.

Booker announced his decision in an email to supporters with a video that highlighted some of his major campaign talking points about looking at the things that bring Democrats together, not the petty squabbles over little things that drive us apart.

Thank You

With Booker's departure, the 2020 Democratic field now has only a single African-American candidate, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, who's still out there competing with Michael Bennet and John Delany for the "Oh, they're still running?" prize. (Like, did you notice Joe Sestak and that other guy are already out? Neither did we!)

The New York Times notes that, for all Booker's inspirational aspirations, maybe this simply wasn't the year for a charismatic, youngish candidate who built his campaign

around a message of peace and unity that failed to resonate with voters eager for a more aggressive posture against President Trump [...]

Throughout his campaign, he was unrelenting in his optimism and his calls for love and healing, a message that apparently fell flat in an electorate energized by a fervent dislike of Mr. Trump.

Democrats really are in more of a roll out the tumbrels sort of mood this year; might be nice if they could be a bit more careful about not trying to throw other Dems into them.

Still, even though Booker never actually caught fire enough to decline from some previous high point, we liked his emphasis on unity and hope 'n' stuff. He certainly didn't apologize for it in his email to supporters, either:

I got in the race for president because I believed to my core that the answer to the common pain Americans are feeling right now, the answer to Donald Trump's hatred and division, is to reignite our spirit of common purpose to take on our biggest challenges and build a more just and fair country for everyone [...]

"And maybe I'm stubborn, but I'll never abandon my faith in what we can accomplish when we join together," he continued. "I will carry this fight forward — I just won't be doing it as a candidate for president this year."

Booker acknowledged that not making it to the last debate or the next one hurt his fundraising, badly, and joined several other candidates and former candidates in December to argue that the Democratic National Committee's metrics for making it into the debates had excluded too many good candidates too soon. And with the departures of Kamala Harris, Julián Castro, and now Booker, who all brought excellent ideas to the debates, we'd have to agree.

UPDATE: Rebecca just posted this in the chatcave, and it's so, so good. Castro does a pretty dead-on Booker impression!

Booker had some especially good ideas that we hope will make it into the 2020 platform, and that he'll keep pushing in the Senate, where he's up for reelection this year. He had some very fine class war proposals, like his call for "baby bonds" that would fight structural wealth inequality by providing every child born in the USA a savings account that would expand over their childhood, with more money going to kids from lower-income families, but some money for every kid so even wealthier families would have a stake in the plan. Or his plan for guaranteed federal jobs for anyone who wants to earn a basic income. We likey, and hope some of those ideas will make it from the think tanks into actual law. Maybe in 2032, after the last manufacturing job finally goes to a robot. Booker was also fond of reminding other Democrats that merely returning the USA to the Paris climate accords is the basic price of running in 2020, not an actual policy proposal.

Booker's boldest proposal, though, was his call to register all guns and license all gun owners, like civilized countries do. It would in part be a national version of Massachusetts's gun law, which is arguably the toughest in the nation and yet has not led to either tyranny or crime waves, imagine that. Booker's example finally broke the ice for Democrats and made it likely that we may finally get beyond wheedling for permission to pass the tamest reforms possible. If the NRA is going to whine that universal background checks and red flag laws dismantle the Constitution, then hell, why not go for laws that would really require people to demonstrate they can be trusted with a deadly weapon? Other candidates starting calling for reforms that looked a little like Booker's -- and that happened with criminal justice reform, too, another issue on which Booker has been ahead of much of the party.

So thank you to Cory Booker for bringing the smarts and the decency and the dad jokes to the 2020 campaign (Fact check: Not a dad). We're looking forward to what he comes up in his next act, in the Senate or the cabinet or ... the vice presidency?

[NBC News / NYT / Vox / NYT / Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0]


Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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