When I think of her name, I hear it to the tune of the opening of “Oklahoma!” What a woman she is, and I had the chance to hear and see her live, along with about 1500 other people here in my hometown, in a conversation with local public radio host Meghna Chakrabarti.
There are so many reasons to admire and honor Abrams. Her defeat in the Georgia governor’s race was arguably stolen from her, as her opponent was Georgia secretary of state at the time and managed to purge a significant number of voters from the rolls, most of whom were likely Abrams voters. But Abrams didn’t sulk. She simply doubled down on her efforts to ensure voting access for people not only in Georgia, but throughout the country. Her organization Fair Fight works to protect voting rights by advancing legislation, pursuing litigation, and building a network of activists across the country.
Fair Fight is also working to expand Medicare for all, and recently announced a donation of $1.34 million to the organization RIP Medical Debt, which will wipe out the medical debts of 108,000 people across 5 states.
But like a late-night TV ad, I want to say: That’s not all! Her ability to get Georgia voters to the polls is largely seen as the reason that Georgia was able to elect TWO Democratic senators and secure a (slim) Democratic majority in the Senate. This hair-thin majority is the reason that Biden’s Build Back Better program is even being seriously debated today. Frustrating as the machinations of the senators from West Virginia and Arizona might be, we wouldn’t even be seeing this plan being debated if Georgia hadn’t elected John Ossoff and Rafael Warnock.
On top of that, Abrams has written and published numerous books, ranging from romance/thriller novels to serious policy proposals. Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Real Change (2018),and Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America (2020) were both New York Times best-sellers.
But this woman is no soulless workaholic. At the event I attended, she talked about her close relationship with her five siblings, They stay in close touch and even have a book club.
But here is my complaint: Stacey Abrams is organizer and a strategist who has accomplished amazing things, and yet on Monday night, in a hall filled with well over a thousand people who had paid serious money to see her, she asked us for nothing. NOTHING. She asked for no donations, no commitments to action. She didn’t even have books to sell. I was mystified, frankly.