Stacey Abrams is one of many new politicians that emerged as a national name during this past midterm election. While some other names may be swept away as just democrats who did not win, Stacey Abrams is someone who we should not forget.
She is someone who truly knows the people of Georgia and wants to work for them. She has bright ideas to bring Georgia into the future, and someone who persevered through the challenges that this race gave her. Though Abrams did not win in this election, I believe she impacted politics in a way that other politicians like Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke and others did in this midterm election.
Abrams is a “Daughter of the South” as The New York Times said, growing up in Gulfport, Mississippi and Georgia with the core values of the Christian faith, service, and education, which she continued to live out. She served the Georgia community by founding projects to help small businesses, and helping people of color register to vote.
She also served in government through her groundbreaking roles such as the first woman to ever lead the Georgia General Assembly and the first African American to lead in the Georgia House of Representatives as House Minority Leader for the Democrats.
Like Abrams, I also grew up in Georgia, and know it to be a beautiful state filled with kind people. But like anywhere else it has things that need to be improved and people that need to be helped, and I believe that Stacey Abrams has ideas that would truly improve Georgia. Her ideas about education, expanding Medicaid and affordable housing would not only benefit Georgia, but like other state legislature, her example might carry on to other states and possibly on a national level.
One of the many things that peaked my interest in Abrams was her support of students and education, like her plans to expand the HOPE scholarship.
The HOPE scholarship “provides money to assist students with the educational costs of attending a HOPE eligible postsecondary institution located in Georgia” according the Georgia Student Finance Commission
Although it is something unique to Georgia, it serves as an important step on the national scale for making college debt-free.
Other ideas of Abrams that drew my support were her plans for affordable housing and expanding Medicaid. This mission targeted towards struggling Georgians made me really support her as a leader even before she proved her strength against the challenges that the voting process in Georgia caused.
The race between Abrams and her opponent, former Secretary of State Brian Kemp, became a national news story in the months leading up to the 2018 midterm election because of accusations of voter suppression against Kemp according to The New York Times. Initially, it was hard not to solely blame Kemp for the obstacles that voters were facing, as he was still Georgia Secretary of State at the time, and his position did oversee voting in the state. But later, it became clearer that he was just strictly enforcing stringent Georgia policies.
According to The New York Times, these policies include laws that put voter applications on hold if a hyphen was not correct, rejecting absentee ballots whose signatures did not exactly match, purging voters that had been inactive for 3 years if they don’t respond to a notice via mail and closing several polling places in majority black areas.
These policies mainly impacted minorities and gave Abraham a great opportunity to focus on the importance of voting, drawing support from celebrities such as Oprah and President Obama to help her get out the vote. It also gave Abrams, as an African American woman, the ironic opportunity to raise awareness about voter suppression in the state that is the birthplace of the civil rights movement.
According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, many of the first major civil rights protests such as the Albany Movement were in Georgia, and the state has been home to many famous civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rep. John Lewis. As she would have been the first African American woman to ever become governor, Abrams’ win would have signified a new era not only for the country, but for a state with such a deep history of racial oppression and injustice.
Abrams’ campaign may not only have been about race but since it would have been groundbreaking victories, this loss was especially disappointing. Abrams gave an inspiring campaign, persevering all the way through, but in the end she lost to Kemp in a 50.2 percent to 48.8 percent race, with the Independent candidate Ted Metz receiving 0.9 percent of the vote, according to The New York Times. On Election Night, Abrams refused to concede, demanding that every vote be counted.
On November 16, it was concluded that all the votes were in, and Kemp received just above the required 50% majority required to win without qualifying for a runoff, a subsequent election between the top two candidates, according to the Ballotpedia. Abrams acknowledged that Kemp would be the next governor of Georgia, but refused to explicitly concede.
In a speech following the end of the election, Abrams said, “So let’s be clear, this is not a speech of concession because concession means to acknowledge an action that is right, true, or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith I cannot concede that.”
I was disappointed that Abrams did not win, as I fully believe in her vision for Georgia, the state that I love and where I was lucky enough to spend my childhood. I know Georgia to be a humble and kind place, and I believe that Abrams resembled that. But I also know Georgia to be stubborn, sometimes stuck in its ways, and I don’t believe that it was ready for the new era that Abrams wanted to bring.
Abrams might have not come out of the race as governor of Georgia, but she surely did not come out as a “loser.” She showed the people of Georgia something new and exciting and got over 1.9 million people to vote for her according to The New York Times.
She faced the adversity that voter suppression in this election brought with inspiring positivity and determination to let everyone have their voices heard. Her devotion to serving Georgia and her ideas to help people show that she would have made an amazing leader. Though she did not win, she made her mark in election history, and I am sure this will not be the last we will hear from her.