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SXSW Interactive Conference Quick Cuts

How Newark mayor Cory Booker talks directly to his constituents

By Jessi Cape, Fri., March 15, 2013

Steven Snyder (l) interviews Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
Steven Snyder (l) interviews Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
Photo by Gary Miller

Cory Booker: The New Media Politician

Sunday, March 10, 12:30pm, the Long Center, Dell Hall

It is purpose, not position, that defines Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey. With more than 1.3 million Twitter followers, his efforts to break barriers of community and political engagement through near-constant use of social media are revolutionary. In a Sunday Interactive panel moderated by TIME.com's Steven James Snyder, Booker – the antithesis of an overscripted politician – said, "We're losing the soul of our politics." His impassioned methods make his mission clear: create better access to equality through transparency and truth. He said the democratization of society via increased authenticity in the political sphere is essential to America's future. A true believer in the power of human connections and the genius of community, Booker participates in real-time communication with his constituents. "In any day the biggest thing you can do is a small act of kindness," he said. A fraction of his lead-by-examples: his Hurricane Sandy response, the SNAP food stamp challenge, and his personalized efforts to provide resources for average citizens in need. Covering an enormous range of currently relevant topics including education, the prison system, marriage equality, wages, and oligarchy of government and media, Booker employed humor and history. He stated, "We all need to be entrepreneurial in the manifestation of our truth." A self-professed lover of quotes and Star Trek, the natural orator offered a wealth of sound bites and visibly inspired the incredibly diverse audience – small children included. Booker described our nation as existing in "a state of sedentary agitation" and claimed that tech reveals multifaceted natures. "Video will elevate the voices of the people," Booker said, and so began his venture into disruption by way of video-sharing through (soon to be in beta stage) Waywire. He referred to his work as a conspiracy of love and called the audience to action: "It's never a question of can. It's a question of will."

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