Trump v. Booker

Cory Booker

Donald Trump may not realize Cory Booker’s presidential campaign ended a long time ago.

and the Republican Party

For some reason, Trump recently used a tweet – of course – to attack Booker over low-income housing and the suburbs. You’d think it was Booker challenging Trump this fall.

Here’s the tweet:

“The ‘suburban housewife’ will be voting for me. They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it in a bigger form with Corey (sic) Booker in charge.”

It is no longer surprising that the president makes blatantly racist comments. In its raw form, his point here is that suburban housewives should be happy he wants to keep minorities out of their neighborhoods.

Just for the record, the “long running program” in question dates back only five years. Put in place by the Obama Administration, it required municipalities to identify patterns of housing discrimination and try to correct them.

One wonders if Trump knows the history here, generally speaking.

Anyone who has followed New Jersey politics for a long time understands that the president’s twitter observation has some historical context. It was way back in 1975 that the state Supreme Court issued its Mount Laurel decision, in effect, mandating that suburbs allow or encourage low or moderate income housing.

In the early days, or years, of that ruling, there was widespread anxiety among suburban officials and residents that old-fashion, 1950s-style, public housing projects were going to rise throughout suburbia. None of that happened.

The 1975 ruling did usher in the notion that suburban towns could not zone-out low or moderate-priced homes. While the Mount Laurel issue remains contentious today, something else has happened.  Through compliance with the court and just the natural order of things, many suburbs have become racially and ethnically diverse.

Trump’s tweet truly hearkens back to another era. And his notion that Booker is going to run a low-income housing program under a Biden administration is something the president seems to have just made up.

But it’s not that simple.

Booker had a well-publicized housing experience through his parents. As many people know, Booker’s parents needed a white couple to essentially impersonate them to buy a home in Harrington Park, Bergen County in 1969.

“Their ability to purchase that home forever impacted Cory’s life in a positive way, but not every family has that opportunity,” says a recent missive from Booker’s Senate campaign.

You have to wonder if Trump mentioned Booker because he knows that history. And given the less than charitable tone of the tweet, you also have to wonder if the president retroactively opposes what Booker’s parents did more than 50 years ago.  Then again, Trump could have simply mentioned Booker because he’s African-American.

We have some unknowns here, but as is common in these situations, the Booker team is using Trump’s tweet to raise campaign cash.

“The president is using racist dog whistles and misogynistic tropes to rally up his base and create fear,” says the appeal.

It adds, “Show Trump we reject his racism: rush $10 or more to stand with Cory today.”

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