Two weeks ago, the Spirited Reasoner checked out the buzz surrounding U. S. Rep. Val Demings, one name being mentioned as a possible running mate for Joe Biden. This week, we’ll take a look at a candidate who may, all things considered, be Joe Biden’s finest option.
According to the web page of her campaign for the governorship of Georgia in 2018, Stacey Abrams was the daughter of parents who both earned M.Div. degrees from Emory University prior to becoming ministers in the United Methodist Church. Building on their educational background, she earned her own graduate degrees in public affairs (MPA from the University of Texas—Austin) and law (JD from Yale). What that background tells Spirited Reasoners is that she spent the formative years of her life reflecting not just on getting ahead in life, but on learning the nuts and bolts of an effective democracy. On that same web page, President Barack Obama is quoted as follows: “In a time when too many folks are focused simply on how to win an election, Stacey’s somebody who cares about something more important: why we should. That’s the kind of politics we should practice.”
Like President Obama, Stacey Abrams spent time as a political activist, founding the New Georgia Project aimed at increasing voter registration. In her op-ed piece published in the New York Times this past Thursday, June 4th, she states that “although we didn’t prevail, we forced the closest election in Georgia since 1966 … 1.9 million voters showed up for me on Election Day, the highest number of Democratic voters in Georgia history.” What makes this achievement all the more remarkable is that her opponent, Brian Kemp, was serving as Georgia’s Secretary of State during the course of that very election, a position which allowed him to purge hundreds of thousands of voters from the rolls, a conflict of interest that should astound even the most cynical Spirited Reasoner.
Ms. Abrams served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 until 2017, when she resigned to organize her gubernatorial campaign. For the last seven of those years, her Democrat colleagues elected her to serve as House Minority Leader. She is credited with several major legislative victories, including the stoppage of bill which would have swapped an increase in taxes on cable services for a decrease in state income taxes.
A careful reading of her political career leads one to the conclusion that she shares the belief of most Spirited Reasoners vis-à-vis the importance of taking the long view of political activism. We don’t elect dictators in this country. We elect representatives who are then required to engage in the tedious line-by-line process of negotiating legislation. Then, when laws are enacted, agencies are typically empowered to adopt their own regulations. Only then can taxpayer money be channeled toward the furtherance of statutory policies. The work has been compared, in terms of the sickening nature of its corruption and ugliness, to the making of sausage. Stacey Abrams has received both formal and on-the-job training in that process.
What are the knocks against her being tapped by Joe Biden to serve?
First off, she didn’t win her race for the governorship of Georgia. Spirited Reasoners would respond to that criticism by pointing out the Karmic satisfaction it would give most Americans to see the election of a person of color who had the courage to face off in the Deep South against the very man whose hands were tainted with voter suppression.
Secondly, some would point to her lack of experience at the federal level. The simple counter to that argument is that her legislative experience is superior to that of Donald Trump, whose experience in federal government was nonexistent at the time of his election in 2016.
As for her lack of experience in foreign affairs, one could argue that her situation is not unlike that of numerous other presidents and vice presidents throughout American history who were tapped from the ranks of state officials. (Barack Obama was only in his third year as a U. S. Senator at the time of his election to the presidency in 2012.)
There is something infectious in Stacey Abrams’ motherly nature, a healing quality that might be just what the country needs during these troubling times.