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cory booker announces his 2020 run for president

February 1, 2019
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It has been a kind of cynical game I’ve played in my head about how will our new presidential hopefuls who are marginalized, namely Black, will utilize public holidays and events as an excuse to announce their imperialistic ambitions. Kamala Harris announced her run for presidency on MLK Day. And now, on the first day of Black History Month, senator Cory Booker officially reveals he, too, is running for president.

Booker is found in the commercial appealing to all of our heartstrings — he reveals he still lives in the working class community that he has always belonged to, something that makes him unique in his political performance. Booker is also charming and handsome, and there is something warm about him. It’s to be seen if the warmth is something he is genuinely generating or if it is something that I feel because the warmth is what you want to feel when seeing a Black man walking through a working class community and smiling.

His positions feel like the standard Democratic position in 2019: ambiguous promises about fairness, free healthcare, and education which is exciting. The hope is that these things, combined with our orientation towards sentimentality around public figures that look like us, but don’t necessarily feel like us. His use of Black History Month to perhaps entice us to see his political campaign as a righteous, historical event isn’t necessarily any more strategic than any other politician; it does feel different when the politician looks like you. It brings on thoughts of am I being sincerely communicated with or is this an attempt at manipulation? Because American politics are both spectacle and serious business, it’s usually an unhealthy combination of both which I’m used to from a white candidate, but not one that reminds me of my friend. My cousin. My father. Or even me.

Beyond that, senator Cory Booker’s announcement is a reminder that this will be a heavily flooded election season that overuses sentimentality and it will be our jobs to separate these moments from policies and histories that should inform our choices on who we will put our support and vote behind.