What is it about American cities having evil mayors? It seems like it has been a theme throughout our history, from Mayor Ogden building Chicago on the back of speculation capital to line his own pockets, and continuing ever onwards; even in films, it seems like it’s always the mayor who’s the scheming mastermind (Bullitt comes immediately to mind for my fellow McQueen fans), to the contemporary example of Boris Johnson in London, who until recently I did believe was actually a character on a BBC show and not actually their mayor. He is that much of a comedy villain.
So, for the past couple of years, there has been some solace in my heart knowing that, after years of the likes of Giuliani and Jerry Springer (yes, he was really the mayor of Cincinnati. For real), that All American Hero Cory Booker was holding down the fort in Newark, New Jersey. This dude seemed like the real deal: a Rhodes Scholar, who while at Yale Law School ran free clinics for low-income people in New Haven, during his tenure he has vastly reduced Newark’s sky high violence rate, spent hours of his own time patrolling the streets where police presence has been low, and just recently, sent the nation a-swooning when he first shoveled an old man’s driveway after his daughter asked him on Twitter to help because she feared her father could not do it, and then topped that by running into a fucking burning building, unable to be restrained by his police escort, and carried a woman to safety from it.
Is your chest swelling? Did you sit up a bit straighter? Let a bit of light in, hum something patriotic, think, just for a moment, that everything’s gonna be okay, because Cory’s out there somewhere, being a badass on the mean streets of Newark?
Yeah, mine did too there for a while. Then this happened:
Cory Booker, the popular and progressive mayor of Newark, New Jersey, attacked the Obama campaign for making an issue of Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital during an appearance today on Meet the Press.
Romney has placed his career at Bain the center of his campaign. On several occassions Romney has asserted that, while at Bain, he was responsible for creating 100,000 jobs. Multiple independent fact checkers have concluded that Romney’s claims on jobs is simply false.
The Obama campaign has responded by highlighting instances where Romney’s actions at Bain Capital resulted in substantial job loses. On Meet the Press, Booker called criticizing Romney’s time at Bain “ridiculous” and “nauseating.” He also equated criticisms of Romney’s buisness record with racially charged attacks against Obama centered around Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Yeah, you read that right. Our hero, like so many others, has fallen to corporate cash and influence. Turns out he’s got massive ties to Wall Street, and is looking to preserve those for future campaigns.
I mean, come on. This is just madness, now. I still like Cory Booker as a person; the amount of effort he puts into his city are unparalleled, and he’s done a lot of good things. Fact of the matter is, the realist/pessimist/miserabilist (delete as accurate) in me has to admit that you only get elected in this country these days with massive amounts of money; just look at the recall in Wisconsin. He’s clearly making a pragmatic move, hopefully to continue doing good deeds.
But fuck it, Mr. Mayor. I can’t help but be depressed. This might just be the last straw, man. While it’s never been strong, I’ve always had a tiny flickering light of optimism in me in regards to politics. There have been just enough decent people, like Bernie Sanders, Jan Schakowsky (minus the Zionism), Sherrod Brown (ditto), Pete Stark, and Elizabeth Warren, who have kept that lick of flame alive. Five people out of 535 Congresspeople, governors, mayors, and president ain’t a whole lot, but in sad times, it was enough. Shit, those hundreds of people I mentioned above are mostly fighting to end women’s rights, destroy education, and make everything privatized while bombing as many brown people as possible. But when Bernie Sanders gets on the floor and rails against corporate greed, I get a little bit of optimism back.
You, Mayor Booker, were one of them. You were the shining light amongst the mayors, against free-speech hating Rahm Emanuel and Thomas Menino, against megalomaniac supervillain Michael Bloomberg. Now, you’re not crushing your own constituents, but the superhero guise is gone.
You’re just Clark Kent now, Mayor Booker.