If intelligence, thoughtfulness, an encyclopedic knowledge of voter suppression techniques and an elegant writing style were the main qualifications for the vice-presidency, Stacey Abrams would be odds-on-favorite to be Joe Biden’s running mate.
Abrams is already a proven vote getter. When she became the first major party black woman nominee for governor in Georgia, in 2018, she increased youth participation by 139%, tripled turnout among Latinos and Asian Americans and increased white participation for Democrats to 25% – the party’s “highest percentage of white voters in Georgia in a generation”.
Tragically, the voter suppression tactics of her Republican opponent disenfranchised hundreds of thousands and almost certainly determined the outcome, giving Brian Kemp a tainted victory.
As a result, minority leader of the Georgia House is still the highest political office on Abrams’ CV, a fact I’m guessing may give California senator Kamala Harris a crucial edge if Biden does the right thing and picks an African American woman.
Regardless of her immediate political fate, the good news from Abrams’ beautiful new book is that the Democratic party has the perfect candidate to restore decency and probity at the Department of Justice, as the next US attorney general.
Our Time is Now is part-memoir, part-history and most of all a roaring call to arms for the decent American majority to take the country back from the racists and xenophobes who are the president’s only reliable supporters.
“Modern day suppression”, Abrams writes, “has swapped [the] rabid dogs and cops with billy clubs” who tried to deny the vote to black Americans of her parents’ generation “for restrictive voter ID and tangled rules for participation … mechanisms of voter suppression [that] have transformed access to democracy in ways that continue to reshape … the way we live our daily lives.”
Since the end of the second world war, more than anything else the example of the courage of African Americans has made it possible for women, gay people and trans people, Native Americans and every other oppressed group to demand the constitutional protections that are supposed to be the birthright of every American.
Abrams explains why black Americans have been the natural trailblazers in this fight for justice: “At its inception, our nation served as a refuge to those whose difference placed them in danger; but the same newcomers stole land from and murdered the original inhabitants, enslaved blacks, and stripped them of their humanity, and denied basic rights to women and nonwhites from abroad.
“This history means we understand what is at stake, how our opponents will try to block change, and, most important, our obligation to realize our destiny … a…