Even by the standards of the Washington Post, Sunday’s feature on Stacey Abrams was remarkable. And by “remarkable,” of course I mean, ludicrous. The hagiographic profile, which ran to more than 5,000 words, likened her to “a runway supermodel” and included a silhouette photo of Abrams, enshrouded by machine-made fog, that provoked widespread derision on social media.
Of course, any criticism of Abrams will immediately be denounced by liberals as racist and sexist, which is the most obvious reason why Abrams has been promoted as a “rising star” of the Democratic Party. The liberal media enjoy nothing more than denouncing Americans as hate-filled bigots. Turning Abrams into a political celebrity, viewed as a possible vice-presidential running mate for Joe Biden, gives journalists yet another opportunity to point the accusatory finger: “See? We told you all those Trump voters are a bunch of deplorable haters.”
What has Stacey Abrams accomplished that would qualify her to be one heartbeat away (and that heartbeat belonging to a 77-year-old) from becoming commander-in-chief? Her main claim to fame is losing an election. Think about what that means about her status as a “rising star” for Democrats.
Democrats are trying to tell us that Stacey Abrams not only deserved to win, but actually did win, and is therefore not a loser at all.
Among other things, what it means is that Democrats and their media allies are still obsessed with the idea that President Trump didn’t actually win the 2016 election. This unwillingness to accept the electoral verdict explains why the “Russian collusion” conspiracy theory, by which Hillary Clinton’s campaign sought to explain her shocking defeat, gained so much traction. Two years after Hillary lost to Trump, Democrats promoted Abrams as a potential winner in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election, and the predictable outcome — she lost by nearly 55,000 votes to Republican Brian Kemp — became the seed for a toxic conspiracy theory. “Voter suppression” supposedly explains how those evil Republicans cheated Abrams out of the governorship, and if you are skeptical of that claim, your skepticism will be cited as proof that you are a racist.
The rhetoric of the 21st-century Democratic Party is as simple as a coin toss: Heads, you vote Democrat, or tails, you’re a racist.
The implicit argument for Abrams as a Democrat “rising star” can be boiled down to this: She is a victim of oppression and is therefore better than other people who are less victimized. Such is the essence of “social justice” logic, in which everyone is automatically categorized according as either “privileged” or oppressed based on an identity politics calculus of intersectionality. It does not matter, for example, that Stacey Abrams is an alumna of Yale Law School, an elite institution that your kids could never hope to attend, even if you could afford the tuition — now nearly $60,000 a year — which obviously you can’t unless you’re rich. The Washington Post profile doesn’t explain how Abrams could afford to attend this elite Ivy League law school, but never mind that. Curiosity about the ascent of a “rising star” is probably racist, and if you doubt that people with degrees from Ivy League schools can be victims of oppression, you must be a Klansman or something.
Abrams spent a decade in the Georgia General Assembly before deciding to run for governor in 2018, a high-tide year for Democrats nationwide. It was the same year that another “rising star,” former Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, challenged Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas, and with roughly similar results. Cruz beat O’Rourke by a margin of 2.6 percentage points, while Kemp beat Abrams by a 1.4-point margin. While no one claimed that O’Rourke was unfairly cheated out of an office that was rightfully his, the claim that Abrams was victimized by “voter suppression” immediately became part of what Jonathan Tobin has called “the Democratic Catechism,” an article of faith among the party’s membership.
Not only has Abrams herself repeatedly asserted that she was cheated out of the governorship, but this claim has been echoed by all the party’s most eminent figures, including Joe Biden, who last June flatly declared “voter suppression is the reason why Stacey Abrams isn’t governor right now.” Biden offered no evidence whatsoever to support this assertion because (a) no such evidence exists and (b) Democrats don’t care. Promoting the myth of a stolen election, as Tobin said, is about Democrats “deluding their followers into believing that they’re living in a racist and corrupt tyranny in which the system is rigged against them.”
You will find no skepticism toward the Stolen Election myth on CNN or MSNBC, nor in the pages of the Washington Post or the New York Times or any other so-called “mainstream” news publication, all of which spent three years promoting the “Russian collusion” hoax to explain away Hillary’s 2016 defeat. Democrats are the Party of Victimhood, and the belief that they have been cheated comes as naturally to them as their habit of constantly accusing America of racism, sexism, et cetera.
Since I’m already adjudicated guilty of these Thought Crimes, merely by doubting the Democrat victimhood narrative, perhaps I have nothing to lose by observing that Stacey Abrams is rather pudgy, thereby adding “fatphobia” to the indictment against me. Nancy Pelosi is given free rein on CNN to slander President Trump as “morbidly obese” (though his health is in fact excellent), but no one dare say the same thing about Abrams, for whom the term is far more apt. Practically any criticism of Democrats is off-limits in the Age of Trump, which is why we’re all supposed to pretend, for example, that Joe Biden’s habitual sniffing of girls is no big deal, and that there nothing wrong about the Obama administration’s surveillance of Trump’s campaign staff. Democrats are always victims of injustice, never the perpetrators, according to the liberal narrative, and skepticism toward this narrative is impermissible.
How did victimhood become the raison d’être of the Democratic Party? Once upon a time, Democrats were led by such genuine bluebloods as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose pedigree could be traced back to the earliest Dutch settlers of the Hudson River Valley. John F. Kennedy was an Irish Catholic and there was some talk of religious prejudice against him during his 1960 campaign, but JFK was also the son of a wealthy Boston investor and spoke with a Hah-vuhd accent not less aristocratic than Bill Buckley’s patrician Yale accent. Democrats had championed the cause of society’s underdogs at least as far back as Andrew Jackson’s frontier populism, but their leaders didn’t make victimhood the central focus of their personal identity. The remaking of Democrats as the party of aggrieved misfits and disgruntled losers is, from a historical perspective, rather recent.
Go back to the 1980s, when the Republicans won three consecutive presidential elections by landslide margins. Ronald Reagan got 489 Electoral College votes to beat Jimmy Carter in 1980, then won every state except Minnesota in his 1984 defeat of Walter Mondale, and George H. W. Bush won by a comfortable seven-million popular vote margin, with 426 Electoral College votes, against Michael Dukakis. The GOP had clearly established itself as the Party of Winners, and the Democrats were left trying to figure out what had gone wrong. It was from that low ebb that Democrats began their strategy of cobbling together a coalition of the frustrated, the alienated, and the marginal. They started gazing at exit polls and doing focus groups, trying to find some kind of message that might put them back in power. James Carville, Paul Begala, and Dick Morris were among the architects of Bill Clinton’s candidacy. Between the errors of the Bush administration (e.g., breaking his “no new taxes” pledge), a mild recession, and the third-party candidacy of Ross Perot, this created the window for Clinton to win the presidency in 1992 with 43 percent of the popular vote.
One key to Clinton’s success was his appeal to a particular demographic that his campaign strategists famously labeled “soccer moms.” Clinton’s policies and rhetoric were carefully aimed to appeal to these suburban women, wooing them into the Democratic column. Bill was a heck of a wooer that way, you know, having a hound-dog appeal that Al Gore just couldn’t match. Then came the Florida recount fiasco of 2000, in which George W. Bush became president by the narrowest of margins. Gore and his supporters claimed the election had been stolen by the Republicans, and thus was born the idea of “voter suppression.” The assertion that black voters were somehow being “disenfranchised” gained credence among liberal True Believers during the eight years of Bush’s presidency, and the subsequent success of Barack Obama did nothing to uproot that myth.
When Trump upset Hillary in 2016, shocking all the pollsters and pundits, the “suppression” claim was resurrected like Frankenstein’s monster. It was easy for Democrats to believe this because, as anyone could see from the results, Hillary had failed to “energize” minority voters the way Obama had done, whereas Trump had tapped into a hitherto unnoticed (or at least, unexploited) demographic of white working-class voters in Rust Belt states, unhappy with the economic effects of globalization. Blue-collar white voters chose Trump over Hillary and, to the shock of all the pundits who thought Democrats had permanently captured the “soccer mom” vote, Trump even won a 53 percent majority among white females.
Staring at the 2016 election results and exit polls, some “intersectional” analysts found a new villain, “white feminism.” From this perspective, Democrats had failed to prioritize “women of color” (WOC) and other marginalized groups. What Democrats needed, according to this analysis, was more identity politics, not less. And it was for this reason that Stacey Abrams, who had previously been an obscure state legislator, suddenly became anointed in 2018 as a “rising star,” the same way another WOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, was anointed. The main difference between Abrams and Ocasio-Cortez is that Georgia is not a congressional district in Queens, New York. That is to say, running for governor as a Democrat in a state that Trump won by a five-point margin is a lot different than running for Congress in a district where Hillary Clinton got 77 percent of the vote. Once AOC beat Joe Crowley in the 2018 Democratic primary, she was a lead-pipe cinch in the general election, whereas Abrams was trying to win a statewide race in Georgia, which hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1998.
None of this matters to the Democratic propagandists in the media who have bestowed the “rising star” mantle on Stacey Abrams. Her loss in 2018 is, to their way of thinking, proof that Abrams is a victim, and this victimhood confers a sort of secular sainthood on her. It’s an upside-down worldview in which losers are better than winners, obese middle-aged women are like “supermodels,” Yale Law graduates suffer from systemic oppression, and an elderly man who likes to sniff young girls is a hero to feminists.
One possible explanation of this bizarre worldview was offered a few years ago by an anonymous blogger who described what he called “Biological Leninism”:
So again, the genius of Leninism was in building a ruling class from scratch and making it cohesive by explicitly choosing people from low-status groups, ensuring they would be loyal to the party given they had much to lose….
If you live in a free society, and your status is determined by your natural performance; then it follows that to build a cohesive Leninist ruling class you need to recruit those who have natural low-status.…
There’s a reason why there’s so many evil fat women in government. Where else would they be if government didn’t want them? They have nothing going on for them, except their membership in the Democratic party machine. The party gives them all they have, the same way the Communist party had given everything to that average peasant kid who became a middling bureaucrat in Moscow. [My emphasis.]
This is an intriguing theory, although not necessarily one I endorse, because the truth may be much simpler. Democrats are just hungry for power, and the means by which they attempt to obtain power are probably ad-hoc improvisations too crude to be explained by any coherent theory. The idea of Democrats creating a “Leninist ruling class” — an American nomenklatura — through the elevation of people like Stacey Abrams seems far-fetched to me, but that doesn’t mean “evil fat women” aren’t a vital part of the Democratic Party coalition.
The difference between a loser and a victim is that victims elicit sympathy by claiming their defeat was unfair. By this accusation of unfairness — the myth of “voter suppression” — Democrats are trying to tell us that Stacey Abrams not only deserved to win, but actually did win, and is therefore not a loser at all.
Victims are the aristocrats of 21st-century America. To be a victim is to be exempt from criticism, to be empowered with moral authority, so that anyone who refuses to kowtow to you is condemned as a racist, a sexist, or some other kind of bigot. Democrats have embraced this concept because it makes them feel good about themselves and also because they believe it can help them win elections.
Membership in the Glorious Coalition of Victims has its benefits for those who can parlay their identity-politics hustle into a lucrative gig. But the competition is fierce, because there are too many victims and not enough gigs. Only a lucky few can be anointed “rising stars,” elected to the Aristocracy of Losers, and celebrated the way the liberal media celebrates Stacey Abrams.
Will Biden actually pick her as his running mate? Maybe, if she has what it takes to pass the Creepy Uncle Joe sniff test.