The Curious Case of Stacey Abrams

Presidential candidate Joe Biden has begun vetting candidates for Vice President since he wrapped up the party’s nomination in March.

Biden is considering women – and women only thank goodness – and his choices are impressive, diverse, and each come with supporters, financial donors, and strengths and weaknesses.

Will Joe Biden choose Elizabeth Warren as a running mate in 2020?
Will Joe Biden choose Elizabeth Warren as a running mate in 2020?

Most political observers believe Biden will decide between Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren. Long shots include anyone not named Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren.

That brings us to Stacey Abrams.

What to make of Stacey Abrams? What are her bonafides? What would Joe Biden see in her to help her “jump the line” in front of more accomplished candidates Harris and Warren, each of whom ran for president, and each of whom have already won state-wide races for Senate?

Harris and Warren can also point to impressive legislation written and passed while in the Senate, while also highlighting the vulnerability required to run for president, despite obviously not winning the nomination.

What can Abrams bring to the table that Harris and Warren cannot?

Nothing.

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Abrams ran an impressive campaign for Governor of Georgia and by most accounts *should have won had not voter suppression and outright cheating occurred.

But the race catapulted Abrams to the national limelight where she showed a national audience why Georgians supported her candidacy.

Abrams is sharp and has the ability to plainly explain policy from conception, to implementation, to outcomes good and not so good. She comfortably explain the “Why’s” of decisions and votes, and speaks openly and honestly about her life, her pursuit of office, and even her novels that she wrote under her pen name – Selena Montgomery.

She is forceful and honest speaking about the challenges Black Americans face in voting, procuring government services, and the unique challenges Black women face throughout society.

Listening to Stacey speak is calming and reassuring. She knows details, freely offers light moments and smiles, and she will challenge you to your face if/when you present wrong or offensive comments in support of obviously biased current events.

Stacey Abram’s downsides though are enormous and include something she cannot talk her way around: She has never won statewide office. (compare to Kamala who as senator from California garnered tens of millions of votes from the most populous state).

Abrams could have – and many say should have – run for the senate from her home state of Georgia, thereby taking advantage of her newly found national awareness, and most importantly, giving democrats another notch in winning back the senate. 

Without the senate a Biden presidency will face republicans who willingly followed a stupid president over a cliff and who will treat him with contempt because Biden is an American and not a Russian puppet.

That Abrams opted out of running for the senate was an odd choice unless she planned to run for president.

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But as we all know, Abrams did not run for president but instead she stayed active and public by pushing voting access and accurate vote counting – both important issues near to her after the debacle that is Georgia’s voting process and results.

Then once Joe secured the nomination, Abrams had a series of curious moves that raised eyebrows and caused the democratic base to look at her askew and with some concern as she seemed to work outside the *norm to advance her candidacy.

Abrams began actively campaigning to be the vice presidential nominee by giving interviews where she offered up her credentials for the job. During the interviews she provided early answers to what would be weak points if she were the nominee, with one being her lack of foreign policy experience. Her response to the foreign policy question was widely ridiculed: “Spent fifteen years of home study for foreign policy.”

Now that it was known what Abrams wanted, the magnifier was fully pointed at all of her words and actions and what began to surface was concerning to many voters.

Abrams was actively calling, per reports, democrat’s donor base letting them know she is available and wants to be Vice President. She injected herself into New York’s decision to cancel their democratic presidential primary vote since the only candidate is Joe Biden. But the state did not cancel the primary, as Abrams tweeted they did (and as of publication has not taken down despite hundreds of responses asking her to do so and correct the record.)

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Many Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren supporters are not happy with Abrams recent actions that continue even now and that have a whiff of desperation and/or disrespect for the party. A smaller contingent of pundits have commented on the fact that Abrams hasn’t officially endorsed Biden and that she appears to be aligning herself with left-wing activists who’ve made it known they remain bitter over the thrashing Biden gave to their candidate.

Another unique aspect of Abram’s unconventional approach to becoming vice president is the racial aspect that informs many views and that causes some trepidation for reporters, donors, and followers of Harris and Warren.

Abrams is attempting to be the first African American woman to be selected and serve as Vice President. The same outcome Kamala Harris is seeking.

But whereas Harris is *African American (Edit: Harris, as it has been correctly pointed out, is Jamaican and Tamil Indian; though she was born/raised in Oakland, Ca.) and Asian, Abrams isn’t mixed and so the old biases and intra-racial issues are surfacing in the Black community and with some white supporters:

Who is Black and who is Black enough?

There’s an ugly undercurrent as well in pitting one Black woman against another, along with lighter skin vs. darker skin, perceptions of beauty and bodies, interracial marriage (Kamala), versus single (Abrams), and Southern Black folk vs. West Coast Black folk.

Many of the early attacks on Kamala were from the Sander’s camp and amplified by his Russian supporters that specifically targeted Black voters. The attacks were on Kamala’s blackness and her connection to the Black community. The attacks were similar to early attacks on President Obama but worse as they grouped in and lied about Kamala’s criminal justice work -exploiting Black voters well-earned distrust of cops, courts, and racist white prosecutors.

Harris became the target and Black voters became the weapon.

Now Abrams is the weapon because she is figuratively and literally “blacker” than Harris. Moreover, she’s from the South where most Black people live and where side-eyes to their west coast brethren remain a fun and sometimes petty  past-time.

Never mind Harris grew up in Oakland and attended Howard University, Russians and elitist Black folk, especially those online, have decided that Harris isn’t black enough.

And while some are saying Stacey is bold and that she has to speak up, because how else will a Black woman get ahead in America if she doesn’t advocate for herself often and loudly?

It is a powerful argument that can’t be easily dismissed.

But louder voices are lamenting her pleas by calling her “desperate” and “thirsty” and dismissing her entreaties to the Biden camp.

What can’t be dismissed is Kamala working in the senate right now and advancing and tacking issues ranging from Black maternal healthcare, support for front line coronavirus workers including childcare, farm, teachers, healthcare, gig economy, retail, and more. She’s writing bills to address food deserts, additional aid to small businesses, and calling for hearings on the corrupt and inept response to the pandemic.

Kamala is doing the work that advertises the strength of her candidacy for Vice President instead of only telling people. Walking the walk, as it were.

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And even when Kamala is specifically asked about being Vice President, she professionally answers that she’s honored but still working as a senator to advance the agenda of democrats while supporting down-ballot candidates all across the country.

There are many ways to seek a promotion, whether as a new employee, middle manager, or all the way to vice president. And while talking a good game is one way to get promoted, history has shown that past proven results is the best indicator and best data to use when deciding who should be promoted.

If the past in any indication then, Kamala remains the best candidate for Vice President and Stacey remains a longshot.

What will Abrams do if she is not chosen as Biden’s running mate? She hasn’t endorsed Biden which leaves open the possibility she could run third party or join another person who runs third party.

Or Abrams could decide that her best future remains with democrats, endorse Biden, and work to secure a spot in his administration where she can gain the necessary experience to mount a challenge to Kamala in 2024.

We could be looking at two Black women competing for the party’s nomination in 2024 and that would be historical and worth every future word written about it.

That’s the future though, for now, Abrams isn’t more qualified that Harris or Warren (or Val Demmings) and as a result she needs to endorse Biden and get behind him and his eventual running mate.

© 2020 by Myron J. Clifton. All Rights Reserved. 

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