Former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun said she is “brokenhearted” over Hillary Clinton’s stunning loss in Tuesday’s election to President-elect Donald Trump. Braun, the Illinois Democrat who was the first female African-American elected to the U.S. Senate, said Clinton’s failure to break the final glass ceiling in politics hurt her in many ways.
“It’s devastating on so many different levels, both personally and politically and even as an American citizen,” she told Nerdette hosts Tricia Bobeda and Greta Johnsen on Thursday.
But Braun, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2004, said she remains fiercely optimistic about women’s political progress.
“We are overcoming centuries of discrimination, of sexism, of misogyny, of being considered to be the lesser because of gender,” she said. “That’s not something you overcome overnight.”
Consider what Braun calls “the pantsuit episode.” A year after being elected, she and Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski broke the unwritten rule that women were not allowed to wear pants on the Senate floor.
“I was wearing my nice outfit, I thought, and I walked onto the Senate floor and gasps were audible,” she said.
That was in 1993 — only 23 years before Hillary Clinton would become the first female nominee for a major political party.
Getting a woman into the White House “won’t be like the pantsuit episode, where the heavens open up and all of a sudden everyone can be equal,” Braun said.
But she believes it will happen.
“It’s a matter of expectations changing, and those expectations have changed,” she said, pointing to the fact that for younger generations, it is no longer an anomaly for women to serve in politics.
“Young women are not going to be relegated to the sidelines, even if they decide they want to wear 16-inch high heels and tight skirts,” she said. “They’re not going to be relegated to a position where they can’t speak their minds, where they can’t participate in society as equal citizens. They’re not going to put up with it.”
Hear Braun’s full conversation with ‘Nerdette’ on the podcast’s election recap episode.