by Susan Page
September 14, 2012
Newark Mayor Cory Booker predicts that increasing public dissatisfaction with the current state of American politics will mean sweeping changes in the decades ahead — changes that Republicans and Democrats will disregard at their peril.
“The urgencies of our era grow greater and greater and are going to demand we get beyond reflexive partisanship and more toward a persistent pragmatism,” says Booker, at 43 a rising star in the Democratic Party. “We don’t live in an era when things move slowly and you can afford the luxury of that kind of politics.”
Signs he sees of the changes ahead: A move in some states toward more open primaries and less gerrymandering of congressional districts, plus the emergence of independent candidates and third parties. He cites with approval Americans Elect, an initiative this year that fell short of its goal of bypassing the parties to nominate a consensus ticket through an online vote.
“Some people call it a failure,” Booker says. “I call it the next permutation.”
Technological developments also will change the way candidates campaign and officials govern, he says, offering greater transparency and more accountability — sometimes pressed by “citizen journalists” rather than mainstream news organizations. He is a champion of social media, using Twitter to track local problems and in the process attracting 1.2 million followers, about six times the population of his city.
Booker says mayors are leading the way — that may come as no surprise — mentioning not only Democrats but also New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (a Republican-turned-independent) and former Indianapolis mayor Stephen Goldsmith (a Republican) as examples.