Cory Booker Rouses DNC 2016 Crowd With Dramatic Speech: "America, We Will Rise"

Cory Booker Rouses DNC 2016 Crowd With Dramatic Speech: "America, We Will Rise"
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Former Newark Mayor and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker made the case for Hillary Clinton in a sweeping, grandly rhetorical speech Monday at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, calling Republican nominee Donald Trump a regressive not fit to hold the presidency, praising Clinton as carrying forth the best traditions from U.S. history and repeating a mantra: "America: We will rise."

Booker's lengthy address began by addressing Philadelphia's history and making the case that the United States, in its founding, was "genius" but not "perfect," marred by bigotry and xenophobia.

"The founding documents were not genius because they were perfect," Booker began. "They were saddled with the imperfections and even the bigotry of the past. Native Americans were referred to as savages. Black Americans were fractions of human beings. And, women were not mentioned at all. But those ugly parts of our histories do not distract from our nation's greatness."

Booker proposed the history of the United States was one of working together to make the "nation more inclusive" and better achieve the inalienable rights set forth in the Declaration of Independence for all citizens.

"I respect and value the ideals of individuals and self-reliance," Booker said. "But rugged individualism did not defeat the British. It did not get us to the moon. It did not build our nation's highways. Rugged individualism did not map the human genome. We did that together."

Trump, Booker said, has done the opposite of rising to the challenge, instead using divisive and bigoted rhetoric to fuel his campaign.

Trump has and will "try to get laughs at other people's expense," Booker said. "Try to incite fear at a time we need to inspire courage," he said. "Try to rise in the polls by dragging our national conversation into the gutter. We have watched him mock, cruelly mock a journalist with disabilities ... it is a twisted hypocrisy when he treats other women in a manner he would never, ever accept from another man speaking about his daughter or his wife."

Clinton on the other hand, Booker said, knows "greatness must not be measured by how many millionaires and billionaires we have [but] how few people we have living in poverty." He quoted Maya Angelou's poem Still I Rise: "You may trod me in the very dirt/ But still, like dust, I'll rise."

"You all know it," Booker said. "This captures our American history — 240 years ago an English king said he would crush our rebellion, but Americans from around the nation joined the fight from Bunker Hill to the Battle of Trenton. So many fell, giving their lives in support of our declaration that America will rise. This is our history ... knowing that liberty is not secure for some until it is secure for all. Sometimes hundreds, often hunted, they looked up to the North Star and said with a determined whisper, America, we will rise."

Booker repeated the mantra "America, we will rise," invoking immigrants, child laborers, President John F. Kennedy, the 1969 Stonewall riots and adapted Irish statesman Edmund Burke's famous quote, declaring, "The only thing necessary for evil to be triumphant is for good people to do nothing."

Booker's speech clearly struck some Twitter users as reminiscent of President Barack Obama's 2004 DNC speech, the moment many credit with laying the groundwork for Obama's 2008 campaign. Some others, seeing the similarities as intentional, rolled their eyes and compared the speech to other times Booker has faced accusations of grandstanding.

Others pointed out that for all the talk of rising above, Booker is Congress' biggest recipient of donations from the securities and investment industry.

Another critic was the man himself, Donald Trump, who seemed to threaten Booker with supposed insider knowledge.

To which one Twitter user had a quick response:


Read more:
• At 2016 DNC, Sarah Silverman Has a Message for Bernie or Bust: "You're Being Ridiculous"
• Demi Lovato Bursts Into Song at 2016 DNC, Asks "What's Wrong With Being Confident?"
• Bernie Sanders' 2016 DNC Speech: Full Remarks

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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