If political junkies were looking for fighting words and calls to arms from U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, they instead got the oral equivalent of a big, firm hug.
In a South by Southwest Interactive opening presentation that followed a conference introduction from chief programming officer Hugh Forrest, Booker acknowledged that the Trump presidential era has ushered in some of the toughest times in his political career.
But he stressed that love, “courageous empathy” and understanding is more important than mere tolerance -- ”I tolerate a cold,” he joked -- in a talk that was built for inspiration in divisive times.
For about 20 minutes, Booker addressed SXSW attendees directly on his feet before a sit-down interview with Google senior counsel on civil and human rights Malika Saada Saar.
As a representative of a major tech company, she asked about the role of social media on coarsening (or perhaps enabling positively) the culture and pushed back slightly on the idea of “loving resistance” in the face of ugly politics.
The session addressed immigration, racial bias and the criminal justice system, media consumption (he said watches Fox News to learn about those he disagrees with) and whether he has plans to run for president.
“I don’t know what the future holds. But at this time in American history I want to be a fearless truth-teller,” Booker said, when asked about the possibility.
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