Ballot Box

The Agenda of Carol Moseley Braun

What she’d do as president.

Slate is running several series of short features explaining who the 2004 presidential candidates are, what they’re saying, and where they propose to take the country. The first series summarized their personal and professional backgrounds. The second series analyzed their buzzwords. This series outlines what each candidate would do as president. Candidates take positions on many issues, but once in the White House, a president tends to focus on the few issues he or she really cares about. The purpose of this series is to identify those issues and clarify how the candidate, as president, would address them. Today’s subject is Carol Moseley Braun.

1. Centralize education funding and rescind national testing standards. Braun proposes to stop funding public schools through local property taxes and start funding them primarily through a federal tax. The idea is to equalize the amount of money schools receive so poorer districts are no longer neglected. She opposes the mandatory standardized testing system President Bush and Congress recently imposed on public schools, and she would no doubt try to revise it, though she has not specified how. She would probably limit school choice as well, though she hasn’t clarified how far she would go to stop voucher programs.

2. “Rediscover the Constitution.” Of all the candidates, Braun is perhaps the most scrupulously attentive to civil liberties and the rule of law. She is the most consistently outspoken opponent of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, which she promises to repeal. She believes the Iraq war was declared and waged by methods that circumvented the separation of powers. She opposes pre-emptive war in part because it violates her belief in international law. She says all her government policies should be completely transparent.

3. Break down gender barriers. Braun would be the first female president. (She would also be the first nonwhite president, but she almost never mentions that.) Although this isn’t a policy, she portrays it as an important effect of her presidency. As she puts it, “To elect a woman as President of the United States [would] remove one of the last remaining barriers to participation in government by women. When that objective is achieved, our country will have reached the goal of our nation’s founding vision.”