Rich Lowry declares: “President Trump has rewritten the rules of political experience, yet it’s still a stretch to imagine someone who has only served in the Georgia legislature — and as a state representative, not even a senator — is ready to become leader of the free world.” She was actually the Democratic leader from 2011 to 2017, but I’m sure overlooking an African American woman’s credentials was inadvertent. He continues: “Her foremost political achievement to date — making her loss in Georgia a cause celebre among Dems — is built on nonsense.” Ah, yes, that old “nonsense” — massive voter suppression.
In any event, he says, “Abrams can reasonably boast of an ability to stoke turnout among minority and young voters — she won more votes than any statewide candidate in Georgia ever. But given her high-octane progressivism, she’d have limited appeal to working-class swing voters and suburban women.” (She actually won more votes than any Democrat in Georgia history and a greater share of the white vote than any Democrat in years, but whatever.) What about nonwhite suburban women? They count, too. (Also take note that Republicans have been hemorrhaging white suburban female voters under Trump.)
The same ridicule bordering on contempt for Abrams is now de rigueur in right-wing circles. Ben Shapiro calls her a “nonentity.” All but calling her “uppity," Kimberly Ross accuses her of feeling “entitled to power” because she campaigns to be vice president. (That tactic might not be wise, as I have noted, but campaigning for the job suggests you know you are not entitled to the job and have to fight for it.) The right-wing Spectator hisses, “Stacey Abrams has no business being vice president.”
Why all the venom? Let’s begin with the assumption that it is perfectly reasonable to argue she is not the best VP choice or that her lack of national experience would weaken the ticket. But the anger, the determination to ignore her accomplishments (she did found a voting rights group, deliver a response to the State of the Union and hold the minority leader position in her state for more than half a decade), the resentment over her insistence on calling out voter suppression as the reason for her loss and feigned offense at her ambition (horrors!) smack of racism. I suggest the tone of these voices — How dare she?! — would be far different if, say, Pete Buttigieg or Beto O’Rourke were promoting themselves for the job.
Abrams has committed the cardinal sin for an African American woman in the eyes of the right: She will not accept the legitimacy of elections won through voter suppression, and she will not be appropriately docile and humble. Unfortunately, I fear that this is just the beginning of the thinly disguised racism that we will see should former vice president Joe Biden select an African American as his running mate.
We’ve seen this movie before. I fully expect that any African American will be portrayed as less qualified than white contenders, a bigger “risk” for Biden and lacking the “right” temperament. Brace yourself. It will be ugly.