Stacey Abrams, who was last seen protecting our democracy from Trump’s acolytes, getting nominated for Nobel Peace Prizes, and publishing best-selling novels, might have a lot on her plate, but she still has plenty of time to chin-check Republicans and make history in the process.
She also has time to appear on the podcast Skimm’d From the Couch, where she called out Republicans for being “purveyors of modern voter suppression,” offered advice to her younger self, and reaffirmed her intention to become the first Black woman president.
“I try to be very careful about this—Republicans are the current purveyors of voter suppression,” she said. “From 1870 to 1965, it was the province of Democrats. And at the inception of this country, it was the Federalists. So it is partisan in the sense that the people in power are typically the purveyors of suppression, but the effect is what we have to focus on. And they don’t ask, ‘Who are you going to vote for?’ before they suppress your vote. They look at your category and they say, ‘We’re going to make it harder.’ But the problem with breaking systems—when you manipulate a system to achieve an outcome, you cannot predict who you will affect.”
She continued, “And in a nation that is grounded in the basic perquisites of democracy, when you use your power to block access to democracy, you may intend to break it for Black people or Brown people, but you’re going to break it for everyone. And my mission isn’t to get extra powers for communities of color. It’s to get access to the basic powers that every citizen should enjoy, regardless of how they vote. Voting isn’t partisan, who we pick maybe, but the process itself should be universal. It should be equally accessible. It should be nonpartisan.”
She also detailed the first time she involved herself in the fight for equal voting rights.
“I set up my first table to register people to vote when I was 17 at Spellman college,” she revealed. “My responsibilities shifted from trying to expand access, to trying to protect access, because that’s when the voting rights act was eviscerated by the Supreme Court. [...] The Voting Rights Act said that any state that would try to impede your right to vote had to get permission. When that was lifted, [...] dozens of states decided to make it harder to vote. And so, the youngest phase was really focused on expansion. But for the last decade, it’s been spent on trying to protect the right to vote.”
Hindsight is 20/20, and in order to sidestep mistakes in our pasts, many of us would offer advice to our younger selves. Abrams is no different.
“I wish at 17, someone had said to me, ‘You are a black woman and yes, you are entitled to imagine you could run for president,’” she said. “And what I think I appreciate the most about the difference between who I was then and who I am now is I don’t care anymore. I’m going to want what I want. I do so with a very strong understanding that I’m not going to get everything I seek, but I do so with the understanding that I have the obligation to say so many of these things aloud when someone asks me. Because to do anything else is to do a disservice to that 17-year-old who needed to meet me then.”
As for her political aspirations, yes; she still has every intention of one day leading our country as the first Black female president. It just won’t be on our time; it will be on hers.
“It’s still a job that I want. But it’s a job that I need to be prepared to have,” she said. “There are other things I want to do that I think will make me better at that job. So no, the goals haven’t changed. The timing may change.”
And as for Biden choosing Kamala Harris as vice president, Abrams believes he made the right decision.
“Not getting that job is not a mark against me,” she said. “It’s not a mark against ambition. It was Joe Biden’s decision about who he wanted and he picked the right person for his administration. And I applaud them. [...] But it also made me reassess where I was on my growth path. There’s always more to learn. “
To listen to this episode in its entirety, check out Skimm’d From the Couch on your podcast platform of choice.