Dovere: President Trump keeps saying and tweeting that you’re going to be in charge of some program to move Black people into the suburbs. Are you?
Booker: I think it’s best to answer that as just “no.”
Dovere: Do you know what he is talking about?
Booker: I have, for years now, given up on the on the odyssey of trying to understand what motivates this president of the United States to say what he says. I think it’s a fool’s errand to try to understand the motivations for the chaos that comes out of his mouth. I do know that there are dark forces at sway, in the sense that he seems to consistently try to appeal to people’s fear, try to call to the lesser angels of our nature. That he is often demeaning and degrading and dehumanizing other Americans. And so I know that for me, I’d rather much rather focus on the people he hurts, the people that he is trying to manipulate, and be a force of protection—rather than get involved with what I think there’ll be arguments for in the annals of history about what motivates him to lead in such a dark way.
Dovere: Why do you think you’re on his mind so much?
Booker: This last month has been particularly strange, that in tweets and rallies somehow he’s been much more focused on me. Obviously, I’m taking up space in his head. And I hope that’s a sign that I’m being an effective advocate for things that are just right, as he is trying to so often push things that are wrong.
Dovere: Is it racist?
Booker: It could be more that he’s using me in a way to try to scare people, or thinking that somehow the only male African-American Democrat in the Senate is a great foil to try to scare suburbanites, which is rank racism. So I’m not sure what it is. I know he responded to the way I talked about him in the Supreme Court hearings, but I don’t know what it is—whether it is rank racism, or that he feels somehow injured by my advocacy.
Ibram X. Kendi: Is This the Beginning of the End of American Racism?
Dovere: You ran for president hoping for a number of different things than what Biden has proposed. How much should people who want more progressive policy, or a different approach to issues of race, think that any of that would now be part of a Biden administration, if there is one?
Booker: Joe Biden’s pathway to the presidency should give people a lot of confidence that he will grapple with these issues and be a president that makes significant strides in them. Clearly his campaign was deeply shaped by the largest mass protests in our country’s history. Unequivocally. It came soon after he clinched the nomination in a decisive manner with a significant outpouring of African American support. I think you could add to that the decisions he has made so far: He has promoted the first-ever African American female as a vice-presidential nominee of a major party; he has consistently spoken with increasing eloquence about the need for diversity, for inclusion, and the need to address systematic racism.