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One Down

By Jill Yesko | Posted 1/21/2004

R.I.P. to Democrat Carol Moseley Braun's presidential bid. Citing problems with funding and the difficulties of running a "nontraditional campaign," erstwhile congresswoman Braun--the first African-American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate--officially announced Jan. 15 that she was pulling out the race, days before the Iowa caucus. "[I] thank those Iowans who were prepared to stand for me in Monday's caucuses, and to ask that you stand instead for Howard Dean," she told supporters, adding that the former governor of Vermont has the energy to "break the cocoon of fear that envelopes us and empowers President Bush and his entourage from the extreme right wing."

With few dollars and an astonishingly invisible campaign, Braun's bid for the Oval Office never got much traction. Still, her campaign was notable for its decidedly pro-women, pro-minority bent that should have appealed to progressive Democrats. Braun, a single mother, ran on a platform that included ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, an increase in the minimum wage, better opportunities for disabled children and adults, commitment to women's reproductive health, and a proactive stance on helping women break through the "glass ceiling" that keeps them from excelling in the working world. She labeled the invasion of Iraq a "misadventure," even as other Democrats were hesitant to criticize the president, and she boldly announced during her campaign that "it's time to take the men only sign off the White House door." Hardly the stuff a mass-appeal campaign is made of, but absolutely the kind of thing many on the left side of the political spectrum have been clamoring for.

Perhaps, in the end, the weight of being the torchbearer for the issues most important to women and minorities was simply too much to bear to the caucuses. Some called her campaign nothing more than a novelty act--a charge perhaps more aptly leveled at Arnold Schwarzenegger during his successful bid to become governor of California. But her campaign was more important than critics would have us believe. In the end, we look optimistically at Braun's brief campaign as a glimpse into the distant future of America.

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