The issues facing the United States took second place to an extensive biographical narrative Tuesday night as Democrat Stacey Abrams delivered the Democratic Party’s rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech.
Abrams lost her high-profile campaign to become Georgia’s governor in November. Roll Call noted that Tuesday night’s appearance could set the stage for either an Abrams Senate campaign in 2020 or another bid for governor in 2022.
Abrams began her speech by talking about how her family “went back and forth between lower middle class and working class.”
Stacey Abrams’ speech started great and likable but ended really poorly. Very negative.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) February 6, 2019
Keeping the focus on herself, she spoke about how her mother worked as a librarian and her father in a shipyard.
By way of relating her hardships, she said the family had only one car. She then related an anecdote to the effect that on a terrible rainy night, her father gave his coat to a homeless man.
Abrams then explained that the “uncommon grace of community … has driven me to become an attorney, a small-business owner, a writer, and most recently the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia.”
She then took a shot at Trump over the partial federal government shutdown, which took place when House Democrats refused to include money Trump wanted for the border wall in a budget bill.
“Making livelihoods of our federal workers a pawn for political games is a disgrace. The shutdown was a stunt, engineered by the president of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people, but our values,” she said.
Abrams then went on to explain that she served seven years as the leader of Democrats in the Georgia House of Representatives, claiming that in that time bipartisanship and consensus ruled the day.
As she turned to the issues of the nation, she covered a broad range of basic Democratic positions, ranging from gun control to lower cost college education.
“We owe more to the millions of everyday folks who keep our economy running, like truck drivers forced to buy their own rigs, farmers caught in a trade war, small business owners in search of capital and domestic workers serving without labor protections. Women and men who could thrive if only they had the support and freedom to do so,” she said.
Abrams did not advance policy positions to address these issues.
She then returned to her family narrative using the fact that she ran up debt to deal with her father’s prostate cancer as a reason to support the Affordable Care Act.
Abrams then revisited one of the bedrock issues of her campaign — that George rigged the system so that the numbers of voters who would have come to the polls to support her were unable to do so.
As some critics pointed out, Abrams’ “response” addressed virtually nothing about Trump’s State of the Union address.
Stacey Abrams just brought up voter suppression. Lol
She hasn’t referred to one single thing in @realDonaldTrump’s hour and a half long speech.
I would hate to follow him too—he crushed that SOTU speech.
— Adrian Norman (@madriannorman) February 6, 2019
“Voter suppression is real. From making it harder to register and stay on the rolls, to moving and closing polling places to rejecting lawful ballots, we can no longer ignore these threats to democracy,” she said.
“While I acknowledge the results of the 2018 election here in Georgia, I did not and we cannot accept efforts to undermine our right to vote. That’s why I started a nonpartisan organization called Fair Fight to advocate for voting rights.
“This is the next battle for our democracy, one where all eligible citizens can have their say about the vision we want for our country,” she said.
Abrams then turned to race. She did not mention any elected official by name when she added, “We fought Jim Crow with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. Yet we continue to confront racism from our past and in our present, which is why we must hold everyone from the highest offices to our own families accountable for racist words and deeds and call racism what it is, wrong.”
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