The Significance of Carol Moseley
January 18, 2004
Carol Moseley Braun, who ended her presidential campaign this week, is frequently and accurately described as the only African-American woman ever to serve in the United States Senate.
But, assiduous newsreader though I am, I have never seen her identified by the following descriptor, which in addition to being equally accurate is vastly more remarkable:
Carol Moseley Braun is the only African-American Democrat ever to serve in the United States Senate.
Isn't that really astonishing? A political party that for the past seventy years has claimed the allegiance of as many as ninety per cent of the black voters of this country has elected precisely one of them to the Senate. And the only way Moseley Braun won was by challenging and defeating the Illinois Democratic Party's anointed and endorsed candidate – incumbent Senator Alan J. Dixon in 1992.
I paused in mid column just now and did some rough math, which suggests that somewhere between a quarter and a third of all Democrats are African-Americans. So if we applied the concept of affirmative action quotas to the Democratic Senate membership, there should be approximately twelve black Democratic Senators in the current Congress. But in fact, there are none. There weren't any in the last Congress either, or the one before that. Except for Moseley Braun's single six-year term, there have never been any black Democratic Senators.
There have been three black Republican Senators: Hiram Revels, Blanche Kelso Bruce and Edward Brooke.
Oh, Democrats will let African-Americans serve in the House of Representatives, but only after carefully carving out black-majority, which is to say segregated, districts for them. Well, you can't expect white Democrats to vote for one of them, can you?
So the Democratic Party's policy, throughout the modern, post-World War II era has been to create separate-but-equal congressional districts. Keep blacks in the ghetto – the urban plantation. The handful of African-American Republican members of Congress, by contrast, have come from suburban and rural areas, where they have been, often enthusiastically, supported by Republican voters. Moreover, whenever the Republican Party has attempted to run black candidates in black areas, they lose overwhelmingly, and this pattern holds for other offices, too.
White Republicans have no problem whatsoever voting for black Republicans, when they can find one to vote for. Black Democrats won't vote for a black Republican. White Democrats won't vote for a black Democrat. Which is the racist party?
Yet when President Bush laid a wreath at the tomb of Martin Luther King this week, a group of several hundred demonstrators booed him. The demonstration itself is not important – any liberal organization that can't produce on a given occasion five hundred or so sign-waving demonstrators just isn't trying. But the fact that such an event has credibility, particularly with many African-Americans, is important, and it is through such public relations techniques that the animus of blacks toward Republicans continues, generation after generation.
When, the next day, the President appointed Charles Pickering to a seat on the Federal Appeals Court, leading Democrats trotted out their invective again, feeding the myth of Republican racism by charging, wholly irresponsibly, that Pickering is a bigot – this on the unimpeachable evidence that he is a Mississippi Republican (as were, by the way former Senators Revels and Bruce). The Pickering appointment, Vermont's Howard Dean sneered, was the "ultimate hypocrisy" by Bush.
Nonsense. The ultimate hypocrisy is that the Democratic Party pretends to be the party of civil rights. It is not, to which the lonely career of Carol Moseley Braun stands as the perfect rule-proving exception.
If Democrats are eager to play the race card against white, particularly southern white, Republicans, they positively slam the card down on the table when it comes to black Republicans. Before Clarence Thomas, there was Massachusetts' Brooke, who was defeated in his bid for a third Senate term in a vicious, slanderous, politics-of- personal destruction campaign run by the Kennedys for the benefit of Paul Tsongas in 1978.
Today, Colin Powell is insulted as a "house nigger," California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown's nomination to the Federal bench is filibustered by the same hypocrites who claim Pickering is a racist and even Condoleezza Rice is pilloried for the apostasy of having strayed off the plantation and joined the Republicans.
The massahs were Democrats. The whip-toting overseers were Democrats. The Klansmen were Democrats. The filibusterers of the Civil Rights bills in the 1960's were Democrats. The liberals whose welfare-state policies destroyed families in post- Great Society inner cities were Democrats. That such a party gets to claim the allegiance of so many African-American voters is one of the great con jobs of all time.
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