Stacey Abrams: Public introvert and ‘old-fashioned Democrat’

Stacey Abrams speaks about politics and her life during an interview with Marty Moss-Coane for Radio Times, in front of a live audience at WHYY in Philadelphia, Pa., April 5, 2019. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

Stacey Abrams speaks about politics and her life during an interview with Marty Moss-Coane for Radio Times, in front of a live audience at WHYY in Philadelphia, Pa., April 5, 2019. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

Stacey Abrams, one of the Democratic Party’s most prominent voices since her contested losing bid for governor of Georgia, says her experience in that campaign is proof voter suppression is a major concern.

“Voter suppression is baked into our DNA,” she told Marty Moss-Coane and a live studio audience during Friday’s edition of Radio Times. “It’s been present since the inception of our country. The issue is who is newly brought into the system, but also who is being pushed out. And as our demographics evolve, our politics evolve, our values evolve, we have seen a certain set of folks with power decide that fewer and fewer people should be allowed to have a voice.”

Marty Moss-Coane interviews Stacey Abrams for Radio Times with a live audience at the WHYY studios in Philadelphia, Pa. on April 5, 2019. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

Abrams has yet to officially concede to her Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, who as secretary of state, was tasked with overseeing the very election in which he was a candidate.

Abrams has remained outspoken in her criticism of this process, especially considering subsequent analysis suggesting deliberate suppression of black votes.

“We’ve grown comfortable with the idea that democracy just is. It is not. Democracy is vulnerable. It’s resilient, but it’s vulnerable. And we have a responsibility to constantly push for an expansion of democracy and to not sit idly by as constraints are put in place.”

Since becoming a rising star in national politics, Abrams’ name has naturally been floated as a potential candidate for president, vice president and U.S. Senate. The Washington pundit class has also circulated rumors that she might be a good running mate for Joe Biden, should he run and win the Democratic nomination. But Biden has been under scrutiny for making women uncomfortable when he touched them. When asked if these allegations should disqualify Biden, Abrams said “If he publicly demonstrated that he understands the concerns. If he is willing to be held accountable. If he’s willing to show progress through atonement.”

“We cannot have as a metric of our success, in our party in particular, absolute perfection. We will fail.”

Abrams describes herself as an “old fashioned Democrat” in a time when the party is facing some pressure to move to the left on a number of issues.

Asked to outline what the party stands for now, she said “we believe in healthcare. This is something we’ve been talking about since Truman. This is not a new, leftist idea that you shouldn’t die from a curable disease. It is not a new, leftist idea to say that we probably should not all suffocate due to climate change. What is considered left is the fact that the right has moved the ball and we keep chasing it instead of standing our ground and saying ‘here is what we know to be true and what we need to do about it.’ ”

Marty Moss-Coane interviews Stacey Abrams for Radio Times with a live audience at the WHYY studios in Philadelphia, Pa. on April 5, 2019. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

When pressed for details on health care and other policies she responded, “I believe in Medicare for All, I don’t believe you have to eliminate private insurance. I believe in the intent of the Green New Deal. I don’t agree with every part of it because it’s a resolution and not a bill that says ‘here is how things are executed.’ I believe that no one should work full time and be unable to take care of themselves. I believe in a living wage. I think the housing crisis is an absurdity in a nation like the United States.”

When asked about advice for women who are thinking about running for office, Abrams said “Do it. With all due respect to really good men, some men will wake up and look in the mirror and think ‘I’m having a really good hair day. I should be in charge of the world.’ Women who have two PhDs, three masters, and they’ve actually built small villages are like, ‘but am I prepared?’ The answer is yes!”

Abrams is a self-proclaimed introvert who prefers alone time to performing in front of crowds and making television appearances. Moss-Coane asked Abrams why, then, has she made the decision to become such a public figure in national politics?

Stacey Abrams speaks about politics and her life during an interview with Marty Moss-Coane for Radio Times, in front of a live audience at WHYY in Philadelphia, Pa., April 5, 2019. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

“I hate poverty. And so I had to determine what was more important to me, protecting my privacy and my alone time and my introversion, or using the gifts that I have and the skill that I have to try and get the change that I think needs to happen. And in my mind my responsibility is to always do the work first.”

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