Georgia’s WIN List held an awesome discussion with both Stacey Evans and Stacey Abrams. The organization did an excellent job showing what democrat organizations should do for the 2018 election cycle. Find a way to uplift the fact that Democrats have two outstanding choices as gubernatorial candidates without tearing down their ability to win the base, independents, and flipflop voters. WIN List is well known for training, endorsing, and supporting pro-choice women candidates to run and win elected offices. The discussion displayed that both Evans and Abrams are successful, Democrat, entrepreneurial, women, lawyers, and former legislators who are both more qualified and experienced than any of the Republicans who have entered the governor’s race.
Anyone involved with politics knows that, at some point, the differences must be discussed and the primary is the place to do it. In this time of congressional and presidential twitter beef, I hope more people aspire to discuss these differences with far more class than we saw on the 2016 Republican primary debate stage. The WIN List debate revealed that it was not just the names of the candidates that would be hard to distinguish. The policy differences between these candidates are nuanced and based on technical political differences. It is going to require voters to listen closely.
An example of one of these nuances jumped out during the only “testy” portion of the debate. To be clear, at this event, testy was simply strong and articulate women having a direct debate. Nothing like the reality show drama we see in other political spheres. However, the tone and mood of the conversation never elevated above what would be expected in a parliamentarian run committee hearing. These women are professionals. I miss the days when professionalism was not a surprise during the debate.
Evans began by using her “clarification” card to address misstatements about her voting record on education that Abrams repeated on the campaign stump. Evans followed up Abrams’ explanation by noting that Evans was not even in the legislature when the misstated vote on legislation occurred. This odd clarification led into Abrams’ segway into the “donkey in the room.” Abrams discussed the Netroots protest of Evans where attendees interrupted Evan’s speech with chants of “listen to a black woman.” Abrams strongly and directly stated she would condemn anyone who turns this election into a race conversation. However, she went on to say she, “will not silence the voiceless.”
One of the women pictured front and center of the protest against Evans was also a presenter at the Netroots conference. In a clip of her presentation on YouTube, the presenter is leading a discussion that began with the premise “all white people are racist.” During the presentation the presenter stated, “I believe white people are born into not being human,” and “taught to be demons.” The link to a longer version of the presentation was pulled down by YouTube because it violated their hate speech policy. The presenter was wearing the same camo green colored onesie catsuit during her presentation that she wore during her protest of Stacey Evans.
It brings to question, is there a difference between Abrams stating she will “not silence the voiceless” and Trump’s “good people on all sides”? The answers to that question is as nuanced as the distinction between these candidates. I cringe to put Abrams in the same paragraph as Trump, particularly when discussing how to address race. However, in today’s climate, we need to work hard not to be hypocritical about the sensitive issues. Trump also condemned racism and white supremacy after the fact. Yet he also emphasized his open support for those with racist beliefs because they were “good people”. Now the question becomes, is it okay to hold racist beliefs if you are “voiceless”? A nuanced decision that distinguishes these candidates. You can watch Shackelford’s presentation and decide on your own.
Unfortunately, there will be people all over Georgia who distinguish the two Staceys based on their race. The differences in their policies, albeit important, are not distinct without great detail. In 2017, race is an issue in everything from our government to our favorite pastime. Hopefully, democrats will handle the issue of race as well as the WIN List handled this first Democrat gubernatorial debate. To handle race with class we must look at how each candidate handles issues of race, rather than judge the candidates on the color of their skin.