Politics & Policy

Stacey Abrams: ‘Identity Politics Are the Politics That Win’

Stacey Abrams speaks to supporters in Atlanta, Ga., November 7, 2018. (Lawrence Bryant/REUTERS)

Failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams praised the “identity politics” of the progressive left as both electorally effective and morally right during a speech at Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network convention in New York on Wednesday.

“Identity politics is nothing more complex than saying, ‘I see you,’” Abrams said. “I lean in to identity politics. I believe in identity politics. And I believe identity politics are the politics that win.”

Abrams went on to fan the speculation surrounding her possible entry into the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential field, telling the audience that she has not yet made a decision.

“No, I don’t know what I’m doing next yet” she said when asked about a possible presidential run.

The comments come after Abrams shot down the suggestion that she might enter the race as Joe Biden’s running mate early in the primary in order to bolster his credibility among racial minorities and younger progressives.

“I think you don’t run for second place,” she said during an appearance on ABC’s The View last week. “If I’m going to enter a primary, then I’m going to enter a primary. And if I don’t enter a primary, my job is to make certain that the best Democrat becomes the nominee and whoever wins the primary that we make sure that person gets elected in 2020.”

Abrams refused to concede after losing the Georgia gubernatorial race to Republican Brian Kemp last year, arguing during her appearance on The View that to do so would have been to surrender her “power.”

“We are so often, if you come from the outside, taught to be complicit in your own demise. You are taught to accept what happens to you because that’s the only way you can make progress. But the reality is, the more you accept the diminution of your power, the more powerless you become,” she said.

During her address on Wednesday, Abrams repeated that sentiment, once again claiming she “won” the race and suggesting Kemp’s gubernatorial tenure is not “right.”

“I’m a good lawyer, and I understand that the law of the land said that Brian Kemp became governor that day and I acknowledge that, but you can’t trick me into saying it was right,” she said. “You can’t shame me into pretending what happened should have happened.”

The former Georgia state lawmaker has cast her defeat to Kemp in explicitly racial terms on many occasions, arguing that Kemp, in his role as secretary of state, actively worked to disenfranchise voters. She has also attributed the disparity between the donations and media attention Beto O’Rourke’s Senate campaign received and those her own gubernatorial campaign received to race.

“I don’t think success is zero-sum so I don’t want to disparage or take away from the reaction or the legitimate response people had for his campaign,” she said. “But I do want to call the question. I think race plays a part. I think region plays a part. I also think phenotype plays a part.”

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