I Believe in Stacey Abrams. I’m Disappointed in Stacey Abrams.
Politicians are not auditioning to be my friend. Every election cycle, I remind myself of this as I consider which candidates to support. I do not need to believe they are the best people in the world. I need to find them capable of the important work they will be tasked with should they be elected. I need to believe that more often than not they will concern themselves with the greater good over what will be the greatest good to them personally.
All too often, though, we treat politicians and political campaigns like entertaining spectacles. We want candidates to enchant us with soaring rhetoric about how great this country is and how they are the best, nay, the only choice to further that greatness. We want candidates to be perfect, always saying and doing the right thing even when we know perfection isn’t possible. Perfection isn’t the goal. We want politicians to be beautiful liars without having to contend with the beautiful lies they tell.
Every time I listen to Stacey Abrams speak, regardless of the subject matter, I have the impression that she is the smartest person in the room. When she ran for governor of Georgia in 2018, I followed her race closely, impressed by her political savvy, her work to protect voters, and her interest in reforming the criminal justice system. When she lost that election, it was a bitter pill to swallow, but she did not allow that to temper her ambitions. She put her political energy into Fair Fight 2020, an organization focused on fighting voter suppression not only in Georgia but across the United States. I would even contend that her work with voter suppression is more important than anything she could do as an elected official, as Republicans redline and make voting districts malleable, to disenfranchise voters who threaten their power.
What has always most impressed me about Abrams is her willingness to show her ambition. She isn’t coy about her political aspirations. She is undeterred by naysayers. I was not at all surprised when she openly lobbied to serve as Joe Biden’s vice president in the 2020 presidential campaign. In an interview with Elle, she pointedly said, “I would be an excellent running mate,” and I believe her. She would…