“Right now I’m a recovering politician and a committed private citizen,” said Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, 57, in a phone interview for the progressive news community.
The former US Senator from 1992-1998, US Presidential Candidate in 2004, and US Ambassador to New Zealand, Samoa, the Cook Islands, and Antarctica, is currently focusing her energies on her new law firm, Moseley Braun, LLC, as well as her new small business.
After a year spent largely out of the public eye, she’s continuing her lifetime work of public service on behalf of the disadvantaged through private practice, however, and still has a lot to say about politics, past, present, and future.
“I’m a lawyer and I’ve been practicing law since the end of the campaign,” Braun said. “My legal practice includes international affairs, organic agriculture, and low-income housing,” Braun said.
“I’m enjoying the practice,” Braun said.
“Food is fundamental and if we can help people eat healthier that’s a public service in itself. Helping keeping the UN viable also helps people. And of course people need housing,” Braun said.
“With the widening gap between rich and poor people, the working class are having a harder time getting affordable housing,” the former US Presidential candidate said.
“The company is an organic produce company,” says Braun. The focus of the company’s work is distribution and infrastructure, she explains.
“I’m trying to expand opportunities for people to get fruits and vegetables all over the country,” Braun said.
Ambassador Braun is no longer actually an Ambassador, but her worldwide travels continue. “I’m very active with the UN, and of course have a number of friends around the world,” she said. “I’m simply a volunteer advocate.”
Ambassador Braun expressed great contentment with her exciting experience of having run for President in 2004, although with some concerns about the lack of support she received from the Democratic Party as an institution.
“[The 2004 Campaign] was an opportunity to speak to issues that have yet to be fully revealed,” Braun said. “I believe the American people are ready for health care and peace and a change of priorities away from Bush and his extremist friends. It’s important to call them what they are,” she said. “A bunch of extremists.”
“It’s a mistake to blame John Kerry for the loss to George Bush,” Braun adds.
“There’s an old saying: Success has a thousand parents and failure is an orphan. [Kerry] was a good candidate. The difference had to do with speaking to constituents. George Bush was a standard bearer of an organized political machine. Karl Rove confused and… lied to people about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, about the connection between Iraq and 9/11. They did every dirty trick in the book. And they manipulated and mastered the election mechanism,” Braun said.
Ambassador Braun also expressed a great deal of concerns about the election process and many aspects of that process that went wrong in the 2004 election, particularly in regards to electronic voting and the lack of voting booths in some districts.
“We have to look at electronic voting. And how many voting booths are in a given community. I’ve seen [in Chicago] elections won on [account of] who was controlling the precinct,” Braun said.
Ambassador Braun also offered some insight on how to bring the 50% of Americans not participating in politics back into the process. “It’s going to be a matter of getting to people where they live,” Braun said.
“People who don’t see the process as having any relevance in their lives aren’t gonna vote,” Braun said.
“Here’s an analogy I like to use. I like sports, but I’m not a real sports fan. I couldn’t tell you who the Quarterback of the Bears is. For many, sports occupy that place. But they don’t know who their Senator is,” Braun said.
“It all has to do with advocacy. Getting out and preaching the gospel, so to speak, of citizenship to individuals. Letting people know their vote matters, that it has relevance to their quality of life and the quality of life their children will enjoy. If you make the case to the American people, they will respond,” she said.
Also important is “access to the ballot,” Braun explains. “If you make someone have to go through more changes to register to vote than to get a drivers license,” it will be discouraging to many voters, she says.
Ambassador Braun asserts that progressive advocates should work towards “making [political] participation easier for people. Making certain their votes will be counted. We can’t have their votes going out into cyberspace.”
Among the most important issues on the table are health care and Iraq, she says.
“Iraq. I don’t know if you’ve noticed. Iraq’s a word nobody want to talk about. We’ve had almost 2,000 American deaths in a continuing violence, what, for Saddam Hussein? There were no WMDs. We don’t go to war because we don’t like people, because we can’t go around the planet starting wars,” Braun said.
If Saddam Hussein or another leader mistreats their own people, “you go to the UN,” she said. “You talk to people and help them build civil societies to help them help themselves,” Ambassador Braun explained.
Speaking of helping people, Carol Moseley Braun still could use some of the progressive community’s help, too, it appears.
“I still have a campaign debt,” Braun said. “The Democratic Party gave me no money and the fundraising wasn’t substantial [and it created] for me what was a substantial personal debt.”
Howard Dean, the other anti-war Democratic candidate in 2004, who Braun endorsed after she withdrew from the race, has since become the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman and has vowed to support local parties and empower the grassroots.
“I don’t know how it’s going to come out,” Ambassador Braun said about Dean’s new role at the DNC, but the lack of party support in 2004 “has certainly been problematic for me.”
Contributions to pay down Ambassador Braun’s campaign debt can be made at www.carolforpresident.com. The Ambassador hopes to soon unveil a new website that will highlight her ongoing efforts for peace, justice, and equality.
Matthew Cardinale is a freelance writer, advocate, and graduate student in sociology at UC Irvine. He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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