Moseley-Braun is doing someone a favor, but it's not Black Democrats.
The former Senator from Illinois is transparently allowing herself
to be used to diminish, somehow, the impact of Rev. Al Sharpton's
candidacy for President. Since she cannot possibly "stop"
Sharpton, the actual purpose and potential effect of her primary
run can only be to dilute the impact of the Black vote, itself.
hasn't consciously taken on the role of spoiler, then she is
whimsical in the extreme - far too flighty to be taken seriously.
However, we know that Chicago politicians are not made that
of events is easy to follow. In late December, Moseley-Braun
was dreaming of retaking the Senate seat that she captured in
1992 and held for one six-year term. According to the December
Post, Braun confirmed that she had had a meeting with Democratic
Senate leader Tom Daschle concerning her ambitions. She also
told reporters that unnamed parties had "encouraged"
her to attempt to take back her old seat from Republican Peter
race cost $6.7 million, and a 2004 bid would be several times
absolutely clear is that Daschle gave Moseley-Braun no encouragement
for her costly and problematical Senate rematch - a race that
would likely hurt the party's chances to regain control of the
body. Instead, somebody offered Moseley-Braun another
assignment for the "good of the party" - one for which
no white person is qualified and few Blacks are foolish enough
to accept: stop Sharpton.
happened rather quickly, and Moseley-Braun still hasn't found
her balance. At first, she claimed that, upon deeper introspection,
she realized that a return to the Senate "would have been
going backward." This is a bad enough joke to get Moseley-Braun
permanently banned from anybody's stage. She left the Senate
in 1998 under a personal and political cloud. Re-election would
be like rebirth - but the Democratic powers-that-spend weren't
buying that scenario.
is quite delicate, needing a Black woman's touch. No white candidate
can figure out how to lay a glove on Sharpton. On the surface,
this appears to be a kind of racial cowardice. However, on further
examination, the monied, mildly "liberal" candidates
- Rep. Dick Gephardt, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. John Edwards - would
find it very difficult to engage Sharpton on a substantive policy
level. The Black New York social activist has taken clear and
crisply correct progressive positions on a wide range of issues.
It takes more than mush to confront Sharpton, and the "lite"
list of Democratic candidates cannot help but equivocate in
every sentence they utter.
and wholly unacceptable Sen. Joe Lieberman looks always to his
Right, like a storm trooper passing by his Leader's stage. This
Republican in-all-but-name appeals to voters like himself, constantly
contorting his social agenda in order to escape the racist label.
will do our best to make it stick.) Lieberman has no interest
in tussling with Sharpton.
and firmly anti-war white candidates - Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich
and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean - should have no quarrel
with Sharpton on the issues. Both would be more than happy to
be the one white progressive standing when the smoke clears.
has a good reason to fight with Al Sharpton. The best that the
"lites" can do is create racial "space"
between themselves and Sharpton by setting up an "alternative"
Black primary-runner. All she has to do is move her lips and
stay Black. Sharpton's positions on jobs, health care, criminal
justice, war, etc., are established elements of the Black Agenda.
There is no imperative for Moseley-Braun to offer anything different
in the way of policy. She is, purely and simply, the "I'm
not Al" candidate.
the Democratic National Committee encouraged Moseley-Braun.
Donna Brazile, chair of the DNC's Voting Rights Institute, has
acknowledged as much. Brazile told the Washington Post's Terry
Neal it was "ridiculous for anyone to suggest the Democratic
Party should have only one black candidate, given African Americans'
loyalty to the party."
no one can deny the right of every African American to aspire
to the highest office in the land. And, if the prospect of "going
backward" to the Senate suddenly offends Carolyn Moseley-Braun,
we must respect her sensibilities. The operative question, however,
is not why an individual desires to become President, but why
others decide to support him or her. Ms. Brazile and
other Blacks in the DNC orbit derive no influence from the Sharpton
campaign. Moseley-Braun's candidacy is as much their creation
as it is a racial buffer for the presidential front-runners
whom Brazile and her colleagues hope to influence when the primaries
of victory is only one serious reason to run for office. Moving
the debate in a desired political direction is equally as serious
and honorable a motivation. Rev. Al Sharpton is a serious candidate
who vigorously argues issues and attempts to mobilize a core
constituency: Black voters. At bottom, Carolyn Moseley-Braun
is not a candidate at all, but a board piece in a game of positioning
played by rich, "lite" white candidates and Blacks
connected to the institutional Democratic Party.
In her formal
"exploratory" announcement this week, Moseley-Braun
said she's not a "Black" candidate competing with
Sharpton, but the "women's" candidate in an all-male
field. If you believe that, then vote for her.
comments are welcome. Visit the Contact
Us page for E-mail or Feedback.
here to return to the home page