ABOVE PHOTO: Cory Booker (Photo: Shutterstock) and John F. Street (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In a political climate dominated by our collective unwillingness to talk to each other and work across differences, Cory Booker has missed the point. Perhaps VP Biden could have used more sensitive 2019 language to make his point; but the point is an essential one in this Trumpian political season.
We must be able to have honest and important conversations, even with the lawmakers who have oppressed and dehumanized us as African Americans, even with these people whom we have fought and opposed. Pushing progressive legislation requires dialog with these so called “leaders” whose ideas, philosophy and beliefs VP Biden has spent a lifetime combating — these men who Dr. King gave his life to defeat.
Biden’s point is that even the most detestable segregationists managed to conduct themselves with a modicum of respect for the democratic process and maintained a level of civility and respect in relationships with their colleagues. Trump has destroyed that model and done a disservice to the country and the Congress.
We must remain undeterred in our willingness to talk despite holding diametrically opposed ideas — in the political arena as well as in workplace break rooms and corporate board rooms.
It is essential to our national success that our leaders create an environment in which we can communicate even about those things that traditionally divide us. We must not retreat to the low ground typified by Trump and perfected by McConnell.
That is Biden’s point, the essential importance of communication skills that allow people to work through hard and complex problems. Senator Booker and those who mocked him may simply have missed the bigger point. But maybe worse, engaged in a political feeding frenzy driven by an irresistible urge to adopt an opportunistic approach to this unique political time.
This will be self-defeating for Democrats in the long primary season ahead and it won’t work for the country and all the more important as Democrats head towards debates in the next few days.