We finished up a busy week at the Rockefeller Center with a visit from former Senator and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun. She met with students and faculty and delivered an inspiring public lecture on her personal experiences.
She emphasized the need for women, particularly young women, to enter political life and suggested that it should be a priority for a woman candidate to run in every House and Senate contest. Good idea. More choice, particularly from groups that have been reluctant to run or discouraged from running in the past, can only strengthen our democracy.
In preparing to introduce her for that lecture, I searched through transcripts of the debates in the Democratic primary and her interviews over the last year or so. She and I don't often agree on the best remedies for social problems. We are far apart on things like her support for a single-payer health care system and my support for the war in Iraq. We are closer on things like the need for balanced budget rules for Congress and support for gay marriages.
My search revealed the following exchange she had with Bob Edwards, who interviewed her on NPR's "Morning Edition" on May 6, 2003:
Her A+ answer continues with other groups of people she would like to have supporting her. I tip my hat to her if this all transpired as it reads on the transcript.
EDWARDS: Are you in the race to dilute the support of Al Sharpton among black voters?
MOSELEY BRAUN: I'm in the race to dilute the support for every candidate among black voters.
Carol Moseley Braun has served in government at the local, state, and federal levels. Based on that experience, she was an order of magnitude more qualified to run for President than Al Sharpton. Leaving aside the bigotry inherent in the way the question is framed, how could anyone at that early stage of the campaign possibly insinuate that, of the two, she was the one who didn't really belong in the primary?
I am going to speculate that it might be because she is a woman. And this exchange illustrates just why her admonition for women to seek public office in large numbers is a cause we should all support.
UPDATE: Here is a link to The Dartmouth's coverage of the event.