On Friday I wrote a column over at The Good Men Project on Cory Booker. My main point is that rather than hating Booker liberals would be smart of welcome him to the Democratic Party. I've written about progressives and Booker before and I really feel the same as I did back then. Simply put Booker is a mainstream Democrat who will overwhelmingly vote with his party, and vote just like any of the other candidates that ran against him in the Democratic primary (who he all crushed by the way). And while he may disagree with some progressives on issues like school reform, he is hardly some corporate stooge. In fact he is focusing on some very important issues a lot of progressives have forgotten as of late.
I find it kind of interesting that so many self described progressives from outside of New Jersey have taken to bashing Booker. Matt Yglesias has argued it's all about teacher's unions and education reform, and maybe that's part of it, but I honestly doubt that it explains all of it. After all if someone hates Booker this much because of his stances on education reform as a mayor and candidate, they must absolutely despise President Obama who has made reform a major theme of his administration with things like Race to the Top. And while it's true that proving your a "real progressive" in some online circles online has consisted of bashing Obama since before he was sworn in in 2009, it's kind of rare that outrage over education reform is thrown Obama's way even by progressives that don't like him.
As I see it all the Cory hating we've been seeing is one of the negative sides of progressiveism in the Obama Age. Since so many progressives have defined a lot of their politics by what they don't like about various factions of the Democratic Party over the last five years, there isn't much room for a person like Booker who embraces things likes school reform while also promoting often neglected issues like criminal justice reform or tackling childhood poverty. Instead a lot of people just see "bankster tool" or "teacher basher" or whatever and act accordingly. The sad thing for me is Booker is in many ways a great way for progressives to define themselves positively be embracing a new reform agenda that is becoming increasingly viable in the case of things like criminal justice reform. At the very least it's not to early to start talking about what a post-Obama liberalism might look like.
Unfortunately we just get a lot of people still mad about TARP and Larry Summers and 2009. Oh well.