Donald Trump and Stacey Abrams: Two Sides of the Same Coin (Opinion)
By: Conner Brown
For the past 15 months, America has been flooded with headlines detailing what left-of-center news outlets have labeled “The Big Lie”. New information and hidden details are coming to light on a weekly basis and the narrative has reframed away from the idea that it’s the Democrats who don’t trust elections (namely the 2000 presidential election). The new perspective is that the republicans, the gun-toting, God-fearing, self-identified Patriots, are the ones who are causing our democracy to erode and corrupt. After witnessing the descent on the capital last year, it’s hard to outright refute this new narrative, at least, until now.
(Photos: Butch Dill/John Bazemore)
Neither party is solely responsible for delegitimizing American elections, however, few ideologues of either affiliation would agree with that statement. Since many publications have thoroughly dissected and publicized the election misinformation spread by Donald Trump over a year ago, I’ve decided to focus on Stacey Abrams election misinformation and the striking similarities of both despite the polar opposite viewpoints.
(Photo: John Bazemore)
In 2018, Stacey Abrams ran against Brian Kemp, the former secretary of state for Georgia, for governor of Georgia. The final tally had Abrams lose to Kemp by approximately 55,000 votes. Stacey Abrams launched a three-pronged attack on the legitimacy of the election. First, Abrams accused Kemp of mismanaging the election and corruption due to Kemp overseeing his own gubernatorial race since he was the secretary of state. Second, Abrams claimed that voter suppression kept her from the governor seat. This echoes similar fear mongering made by the failed Georgian candidate several months prior to the election. Finally, Abrams fueled rumors that there were broken election machines that switched votes from Abrams to Kemp. Starting to see the similarities yet?
First, Stacey Abrams accused Brian Kemp of corruption for overseeing his own election. While on its face, this seems like a legitimate issue to raise, this is actually entirely legal and the norm. Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, clarified in a USA today fact check,”Every secretary of state who has run for reelection as secretary of state in Georgia has held onto the office during that. It's just not that common for a secretary of state to run for governor." Even if Abrams’ claim that Kemp is utilizing corruption to hand him the gubernatorial race on a silver platter, she would still have to have hard evidence showing such corruption.
Second, Abrams, to this day, claims voter suppression prevented her constituents from voting her into office. Specifically, that Brian Kemp had disenfranchised thousands of voters leading up to the election and made it harder for Georgians to vote. In fact, this claim is almost completely opposite from reality. While it’s true that Kemp removed over 600,000 inactive registered voters from the voting rolls according to Ella Lee from the same USA Today fact check in 2020, Georgia continues to be in full compliance of the National Voter Registration Act. Georgia uses a verification tool that checks for accuracy in voter rolls and removes registration after a duration of inactivity. The claim that Kemp made it harder to register to vote is a baldfaced lie. Not only did Georgia have the highest voter turnout in state history at the time of the election according to Caleb Morrison of the Heritage Foundation, but in 2014, during Brian Kemp’s time as secretary of state, he launched online voter registration and a voter registration mobile app.
(Photo: John Amis)
Finally, Stacey Abrams funded groups who push election misinformation and conspiracy theories. Stacey Abrams voting rights organization, Fair Fight Action, funded the nonprofit organization, Coalition for Good Governance. Brad Raffensperger of National Review explains that, similar to Sidney Powell’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen, CGG submitted lawsuits against Dominion, the voting system Georgia uses in elections, for being allegedly unsecure and even claimed that politicians were bribed to switch votes from Abrams to Kemp. Of course, just like the former president’s attempts, none of the lawsuits were successful and the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race was certified.
In order to restore trust in American elections and promote democracy, both sides need to be honest with themselves and acknowledge the shortcomings of dishonest party leaders. This is the first step to depolarizing the United States and moving towards a more bright future.