Pick Another White Guy To Take Off Your Money Because Stacey Abrams Is Gonna Be President
Clare Malone chatted with Stacey Abrams last November for FiveThirtyEight's "When Women Run" project. The interview dropped Friday and the BIG SCOOP is that the immensely talented and brilliant Abrams, who came within a few poll taxes of defeating Brian Kemp in the Georgia governor's race, is actively planning to run for president. This ain't breaking news, y'all. I know women aren't supposed to seriously pursue powerful positions unless their husbands, fathers, or Victorian-era guardians grant them permission first, but c'mon, who isn't running for president these days? It's like a political Olympics where all that's required to participate is bringing your own track shoes or ice skates. Abrams should be president now, but we'll have to restrain our inner Veruca Salts and wait a couple decades.
Abrams is equal parts badass and fascinating. Her ambition has always been coupled with practicality. This probably isn't rare for black women. Many white men -- be they billionaires or mayors -- believe they can not only win the presidency but effect sweeping change without any practical experience. They snottily dismiss knowing what the fuck you're doing as "DC experience." Abrams is very different. She understands that someone in any public executive position, either as governor or president, won't be very effective if they don't understand the legislative process. That's what Abrams set out to do. She served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2006 to 2017 and was minority leader for more than half that time. She's already more qualified than several candidates in the Democratic primary. Sneering your nose at "Washington bureaucracy" won't make it go away. If we've learned anything from the past few months, it's that we need seasoned political operators to confront a united GOP machine. We can't just plug some fresh-faced kid into the Matrix, upload the legislative kung-fu program, and send them off to face Agent Mitch McConnell. This is the real world. We'd get killed.
Abrams has had to contend with a lot of trifling racist nonsense in her career. Her campaign for Georgia governor was historic, but she wasn't regarded as the Wright Brothers. She was constantly asked if a state with a 30 percent black population was ready for a black woman governor.
ABRAMS: I'm electable if I win. And I'm electable because I can win. I'm not solely an avatar for black women, but I'm a proud avatar of both of those things because it stands as an example of what's possible.
Yes! America is supposedly a nation that does bold things. We can walk on the moon (we did in fact) but we publish countless "think pieces" wondering if we're "ready" for leaders who aren't white men. You don't even need rockets and zero gravity training to elect black people or women of any shade. You just vote for them.
During Abrams's primary race in 2018, her Democratic opponent, Stacey Evans, happened to share a first name with her. This wasn't that improbable. I went to college in Georgia, and almost every woman I knew was named Stacey. I think I was even named Stacey for a few days. But Evans was also white, and this caused malfunctions in the logic centers of some men covering the race. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jim Galloway grossly suggested that the primary could "have the feel of feud between Beyonce and Taylor Swift." Abrams and Evans are both professional, grown-ass women. They weren't "feuding" or cat fighting. They were running for governor, but Galloway acted like he was recapping "The Real Housewives of Atlanta."
Abrams wasn't surprised that the media coverage was, as she put it so well, "petty, reductive, and deeply misogynistic." Abrams was kind enough to give Galloway "some" benefit of the doubt but "not too much" because it was 2018 and all.
ABRAMS: Had the juxtaposition been two men named Michael, I doubt it would have been reduced to that facile a description of the complexity of what was happening. I think there was a laziness sometimes to how we were described and how we were covered. There was also a dismissal of the legitimacy of the candidacy. For a lot of these reporters, there were multiple reasons why they thought I couldn't win.
Abrams was also asked about her openness to serving as vice president. Malone noted that Abrams was often proposed as a "balance" to a "hypothetical" white male nominee. That just makes you want to cry, because you realize how long ago November was. Now, a white male Democratic nominee is less hypothetical than highly probable. Abrams was gracious about all the chatter, even though she's got her own game to run.
ABRAMS: I accept that I exist in the political zeitgeist in a very specific way, and that we as a nation have very binary notions of politics. You're a Democrat or a Republican. You're a man or a woman. You're black or you're white. You're white or you're a person of color ... so often the reason the question is raised begins with that.
Abrams, however, is rightly proud that she's even in the conversation, but let's not limit her to the opening night for a Rolling Stones farewell tour. We can dream as big as she does.
The entire interview is here.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).