Newark Mayor Cory Booker is known for being a pretty savvy guy, and he made his second appearance on the Internet message board/trash heap/think tank Reddit on Monday. For around four hours, Booker and his team churned out long, thoughtful answers to equally thoughtful questions, and even weighed in on baby sloths and Star Trek.
Read the whole thing here, if you dare, but if you've never browsed a Reddit thread, it can be a pretty brain-melting experience, so here are some of the best parts of Booker's discussion:
On social media and government:
Reddit Question: Mayor Booker you are so great at tweeting, do you feel social media is integral to politics today? PS can you fix a pothole here?
Booker: Frankly, I hope and believe that social media can be a constructively disruptive force in politics. The last decade many people have been talking about "E-Government" but we need to move to "We-Government." The spirit and practice of social media and technology today is really about bucking the hierarchical, top down, inside out paradigm and moving toward the collaborative, cooperative, interdependent model.
So many people have come to see politics as a spectator sport. We relegate ourselves to cheering for our side -- to giving color commentary on what is happening. We divorce ourselves from the process and hope that "those people" down in Washington fix things. Well the reality is there exists powerful, potentially limitless wisdom, experience, knowledge, ingenuity and creativity in our Nation...
...As for your pothole . . . . Yes I can! (but no I won't).
Q: Would you ever consider a campaign for president in 2016 or beyond?
Booker: Yes! Unequivocally I would consider running for president of the New Jersey Star Trek Club in 2016. I have been a lifelong Trekker and to run for such an important position would be the fulfillment of a childhood dream -- up there with defending the Earth from The Borg. . . Now if you were talking about president of the United States. . . please. 44 people have held that position in the history of our country. We need to stop looking at that as the be all and end all of elected service.
Q: Now, who is your favorite Captain?
Booker: Jean-Luc Picard. 1. He's clearly the most captain-like of all the captains. 2. He has the best haircut of all the captains in the universe.
Q: I would like to know what you consider an essential characteristic of a leader in the 21st century.
Booker: I want leaders who are courageous, who are willing to tell the truth even if it means that it might hurt their electability; who every day fight the good fight and even amidst discouragement, frustration, or even loss, get up the next day and courageously fight, advocate and lead through action. Without courage, it is hard to manifest any other virtue with consistency.
Q: I was always curious as to your religious beliefs. I am a Progressive Christian, and hope you are one too, how big of a part does faith play in your politics?
Booker: Yes I am a Christian and I consider myself Progressive. In addition to my own faith, I've also taken a lot of time to study other faiths. I love to learn about these other traditions and often wish I had more time to do so. I want to thank those mentors from other faith traditions that have helped me learn and grow in my understanding.
But here is something I wrote that really encapsulates my beliefs about faith and religions:
Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people;
before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children;
before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors.
In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give.
On illegal guns and the 2nd Amendment:
Q: Do you think that the "$1000 bounty for illegal guns" has turned neighbor against neighbor and possibly set itself up to be abused? I understand New Jersey laws in no way favor the 2nd Amendment, however I can't see how this program does anything more than tie up police resources on several false leads and turn the community against itself.
Booker: I'm sorry you term the program as a "bounty." The program in no way infringes on 2nd Amendment rights. In fact, I can only find one shooting in my city that was ever done by someone who had a legal gun. My concern is criminals or those with criminal convictions, getting their hands on illegal guns. Those cause the violence in our city. We set up an innovative program where if anyone gives us an anonymous tip that leads to the recovery of an illegal gun then they can get $1,000. This program has led to no abuse. In fact, we get few tips that don't lead to recovering a gun on a criminal. Further, we have had some of our biggest gun busts thanks to tips from folks who came forward. Their tips have taken numerous illegal guns off the street, saved lives and this year have contributed to us more than doubling the number of illegal guns that we have recovered off of criminals.
On fighting the drug war:
Q: As someone who works in, and knows, NJ politics, you are very likely going to be U.S. Senator in a few years. Once in the Senate, what will you do to end the drug war?
Booker: The drug war is an absolute failure. It is consuming gross amounts of our national treasure and destroying the lives of millions of people that could, with the right policy, be far more productive in our society. More than this, it is a strong contributor to the continuance of cycles of poverty and the further frustration of existing gross racial disparities. I am outraged by this reality and have and will dedicate much of my time and energy to helping our nation get out of this trap that is adversely affecting all of us.
On the finer things in life:
Q: Since you have an undying love for Ben and Jerry's, if you had the opportunity to create your own ice cream flavor what would it consist of and what would you call it?
Booker: Dough Unto Others: Cookie Dough, Coffee Ice Cream, Cake Batter Ice Cream, with swirls of creamy peanut butter (cause this whole thing is a little nuts).