I don’t know a whole lot about Cory Booker. My cousin who lives in Jersey, who I trade emails with from time to time, has never mentioned Booker’s name once, although it may be because my cousin is more prone to send me jokes and lamentations about his poorly performing football team. So the other night, when I watched Booker, who just won a second term as the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, get into the mix as a guest of Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO last Friday night, I was pleasantly surprised.
In an age where politicians take to the grandeur of holding office like a duck takes to water, Booker’s commentary seemed to have a more intimate perspective, drawing frequently on his own personal convictions in a manner that appeared to be genuine and frank. Francis Martel of Mediaite ably describes the recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher , including the exchange with Booker.
The center question of the conversation, with Maher defining it, was whether non-atheists were delusional– a topic that came up after Cupp admitted that she suspected President Barack Obama was an atheist, too. Maher argued that religion was the cause of “all wars,” in which he included communism, “a state religion.” Avlon offered that the term “religion” for what Maher was attacking was wrong– it was “absolutism, ideology, and extremism” that were behind the forces Maher was citing. Booker took it a step further, telling Maher “in your atheism, you are just as dogmatic and intolerant as any preacher.”
Conventional wisdom has long opined that the people we need the most in our political arena are often the ones who are the least likely to run for office. Well educated, well adjusted citizens who can ably execute the duties of their office usually migrate to fields where their talents are more richly rewarded, and their personal lives are less likely to be fodder for endless speculation. Although Booker seems like a fish out of water, it is a refreshing sign that youthful, vigorous thinkers like him are deciding to make a career of politics.
After months of enduring the never-ending parade of self-proclaimed Christians on cable news shows who openly promoted hatred while claiming simultaneously to have an unabiding faith in the tenets of the King James bible, it was revitalizing to watch someone who says he is determined to live what he says he believes. Booker tweeted the following five messages today from his Twitter verified account after appearing on the HBO program:
After the conversation we had on Bill Maher's Real Time, I thought I would share a quick thought about Religion that I posted a while ago:
Don’t speak to me about your religion; 1st show it to me in how u treat other people.
Don't tell me how much u love your God; show me in how much u love all her children.
Don't preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors.
In the end, I'm not as interested in what u have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live & give.
No media spin, no PR flack "framing the message", no equivocation. Guys like this are really too good for the muck and slime that our country's political process is mired in. I just hope we don't run him out of the political arena before he has a chance to turn into the kind of national leader America deserves.