The Lessons Democrats Learned from Stacey Abrams

The Lessons Democrats Learned from Stacey Abrams

An Ethics Watchdog Criticized Stacey Abrams. His Boss Retracted It. Now He Fears There’ll Be More Criticism.

Toward the end of last year, in mid-August, I wrote an opinion piece for The Week, entitled “If the Left Can Win, Why Won’t they?”

The piece questioned whether the Democratic Party was ready to win the White House, and whether the Democratic National Committee was right in its claim that it was in a “safe position” because “the right wing of the Democratic primary is still committed to Bernie Sanders while the far left remains committed to Amy Klobuchar, and the latter is more attractive to voters on the basis of her more progressive platform.”

I said that it appeared that Democrats were going to have to change their message if they hoped to have a successful general election.

I also argued that, historically, Democrats in presidential elections have learned to make changes to their message and electoral strategies on the way to victory. The only exception was when Democrats “turned the other cheek” against the “ruthless and nasty” political right. But then, they seemed to have a habit of doing that—and winning.

In other words, I argued, Democrats had learned the lesson. But then, I added, “the lessons Democrats are learning now have been the subject of relentless criticism from progressives across the political spectrum. I can offer no greater example of such criticism than the criticism of my fellow progressive activist, Stacey Abrams, who is facing a potentially historic challenge from Donald Trump.”

I argued that Abrams’s critics were not alone—or perhaps they were, but there was no shortage of other progressives who felt like Abrams was being unfair with the criticisms.

As I noted, the criticisms of Abrams had been building for a while, and it wasn’t just a case of progressives making baseless accusations about her race, or her family, or her political ideology, or even her political record; they seemed to be coming from the left, from the right, and from the center. I called the criticism unfair, and said I was willing to consider all the facts, but—unlike the left, which was focused on her ethnicity—

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