I’ve been writing of late — — e.g. here (“The Key Role of Public Opinion in the Gathering Trump War”)and here (“Making the Republicans Pay for Their Evils”) — about the need for the Democrats to develop what has been a crucially missing capability: namely, the ability to expose the evils of the Republicans of this era.
- It is because of this inability, I’ve argued, that it has been possible for the Republican Party to behave increasingly disgracefully, over the past quarter century, while nonetheless gaining enough public support to increase its power. Not being effectively called out, the Republican Party by 2017 had achieved control over all branches of the federal government and the majority of the governorships and legislatures in the states.
- That inability is now particularly intolerable now that the Democrats have been given a mandate by the people, in the 2018 Blue Wave election, to act as a check on this lawless President. As they use the investigative powers they now possess, a key part of the Democrats’ task will be to move public opinion against this disgraceful President, and against the Trump Party that has disgracefully chosen to be his accomplices.
So it is useful to take note when a Democrat steps onto the stage and shows how this necessary task – of disgracing the disgraceful – can be done. In her justly famous “non-concession” speech, Stacey Abrams – Democratic nominee for the governorship of Georgia – has just shown us how.
(The crucial passage of the speech is here and the full speech can be seen and heard here.)
We can start with Stacey Abram’s words. They are not minced.
She talks about the conduct of the Republican candidate, Brian Kemp, who, as the state’s Secretary of State, has been in charge of overseeing elections. Kemp, she acknowledged, will be certified the winner of an election—but only after having conducted a systematic and long-term campaign of disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters whose voices he wished to silence because they would interfere with his quest for power.
She calls that conduct “Truly appalling “
And while she acknowledges that there remain no further remedies now for this election, she explicitly differentiates such
acknowledgement of a fact from making a “concession.” Hers is not a concession speech, Abrams says, because to “concede” would be “to acknowledge an action is right, true, or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that.”
She refuses to fulfill the usual expectations according to which she should be “stoic in my outrage and silent in my rebuke.”
“I will not concede because the erosion of our democracy IS NOT RIGHT.”
Strong words. How welcome is this kind of strength in denunciation!
In addition to the words, the other thing to be noted is the tone and spirit in the voice. Not a hint of weakness. No false niceties. Rather, a strong stance of righteous outrage.
(Imagine what would have happened if President Obama had used such a tone of powerful moral condemnation while Mitch McConnell and his allies were stealing the Supreme Court seat!)
Brian Kemp is hardly the only Republican these days whose conduct is appalling. And Stacey Abrams is hardly the only Democrat whose voice should be raised in eloquent outrage at the outrageous Republican degradation of our democracy.