tv Brookings Discussion with Stacey Abrams CSPAN February 15, 2019 3:44pm-4:47pm EST
executive authority and the constitutional duty to protect the people of this country, frankly, if members of congress had a problem with it they should have done more to address and get more of the problems solved in the legislation so the president didn't have to take executive action. reporter: what about a second national emergency that the resident talked about? >> stacey abrams, former democratic governor in georgia, called president trump's emergency declaration today a political stunt. she made the comment while speaking at the brookings institution in washington about minority voting rights, voter suppression and political power. his is just under an hour.
>> good morning, everyone. this is a packed house. i love it it's so packed in fact i think we have people in our spillover space. greetings to those in the spillover space as well. they don't get enough love around here. i am going to assert humbly that you are not all here fort introductory speaker and that's totally ok but that makes me motivate vation to keep introduction short. for those that don't know i'm ted gayer, the executive vice president here at brookings. as i said this morning, we're here for the marquee event and brookings celebration of black history month. before we begin, i'm looking through the crowd, i want to give a special welcome. we have a number of artists in the crowd from the richard wright public charter school of journalism and media arts. they created the videos you saw earlier. if you haven't seen it, if you go straight down the hall after this event, we have a fantastic
cafeteria and in that cafeteria we're featuring some of their art. so i would like them if they would to stand up. thank you. [applause] thank you. thank you, again. thank you for sharing your art with us. it's terrific. also want to thank the people here at brookings who made this event possible, including representatives from our inclusion and diversity committee and our raise prosperity and inclusion initiative. brookings works best when we work as a team and so thanks to all of our team members who put this event together today. our special guest today is stacey abrams who is an -- [applause] that's even before i went through the bio here. and the bio is impressive. an author, an entrepreneur, nonprofit c.e.o., a political
leader. 2018 after serving 11 years in the georgia house of representatives, seven as minority leader, abrams became the democratic nominee for governor of georgia. she was the first black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the united states. [applause] over the course of her career, she has founded multiple organizations devoted to voting rights, training and hiring young people of color and tackling social issues at both the state and national levels. she is a lifetime member of the council of foreign relations, the 120 recipient of the john f. kennedy new frontier award and current member of the board of directors for center for american progress. if that was not enough, she's also writ eight romantic sprens novels. i'm feeling quite humble up here. and in march, 2019, you're a month late. we could be featuring you --
march, 2019, she will release her new book, lead from the outside, how to build your future and make real change. we're delighted you're here today. thank you very much. [applause] ted: i'm also honored to welcome jelani cobb, moderator for today's discussion. there you go. he is the live-in professor of journalism at the columbia school of journalism and contributor to the new yorker magazine where he writes about race, politics, history and culture. he was actually telling us a little bit about the courses he teaches before we came in here and people in the room -- green room were ready to sign up. his articles and essays have also appeared in other publications including "the washington post," the "republic" and essence." and he is the author of barack .bama
so please welcome stacey abrams and jelani cobb to the stage. [applause] mr. cobb: how are you doing? ms. abrams: cool. are we going to pretend nobody room?s in the mr. cobb: i am particularly happy to be here today and happy to talk about somebody who i've known and admired for a long time. had the privilege of being one of her constituents at one point in the time i was living in atlanta. and one of the most -- inarguably one of the most important voices in american politics right now. so thank you. so welcome. ms. abrams: thank you for having me. mr. cobb: i will jump into it.
i am particularly excited to be here, especially when i realized you were announcing your campaign for president and so -- [laughter] ms. abrams: my h.o.a. is looking for a leader, yes. mr. cobb: ok. maybe i got bad intel on that. but we have more than enough to talk about. and i guess we'll start with the kind of overarching question which is about the thing that ties together the mid-terms, ties together 2016, will likely be a prominent theme in 2020 and that is the fight around voter suppression. can you just talk for a minute about the architecture of voter suppression and how it functions and what we can -- i'll say what we can do about it but how exactly do the
mechanics of this work? ms. abrams: i want to thank you so much for taking the time and thank you to dr. gayer and brookings for having me. my belief in the responsibility to fight voter suppression started when i was growing up. my parents were both civil rights activists as teenagers in mississippi. my dad was arrested signing people up to vote when he was 16. and my mom used to take us with her when she would pick us up from school on election day, she would take us with her to vote. we looked like ducklings spilling out. we were raised to understand that voting is directly tied to the services and policies you want to see. voter suppression acts as a means of denying those policies' reality and it is based in the d.n.a. of america. it has been perfected in recent years in the last two decades a way that lets us forget
there are so many pieces. voter suppression isn't saying you can't vote. it is both the physical activity but also a psychic effect. telling people their votes won't count, telling people that the system is rigged has the act of actually stopping people from trying to use it. and then just to make sure it works, there is the actual apparatus and i think about it in three weast ways. there is the registration access. making it difficult to get on the rolls. you cannot vote in the united states unless you are signed up to do so. like having a driver's license. and so what we have found is depending on the state you are in, there are impediments put in place. in texas, they tell third party organizations it's difficult to register you. that matters because the hardest to register communities are communities of color, newly registered citizens and low-income communities. they require third parties to come to them because they often don't know how to do it on their own. in georgia we had sort of the
trifecta of -- it was hard to get on the rolls because the secretary of state kept raiding the offices or attacking those who were doing third party registrations. he then used what's called exact match, which said if your name has any error when someone is typing it in the system that would be a predicate for denying you the right to vote d in georgia in 2018, 53,000 people were caught up in this bureaucratic nightmare. t's say you name is del rios. georgia takes out the space. that becomes the database. but your parents named you del rios with a space. you put it that way on your birth certificate. in georgia because the driver's license doesn't recognize the space, you are denied the right to vote because it does not exactly match the database.
53,000 people were denied. 90% of whom were people of color. the third part is if you are naturalized citizen, there were some parts of the secretary of state's office were demanding you use your alien registration number as part of your application. it's against federal law to use your alien registration number because you are no longer an alien. you are a citizen. so in order to achieve the right to vote you are being denied access. so registration is the first. and then there's the use or lose it law. the ohio state that was just settled by the supreme court. in the united states we do not have mandatory voting. use it or lose it laws were originally designed to say if you're dead or you moved you probably shouldn't vote where you used to live. that makes sense. but it's now been used to say if you don't vote in a certain number of successive elections that can be used as a reason to take you off the roll. but the problem is it's not precise. hundreds of thousands of people were removed from the rolls who voted. and they don't find out they've
been removed until they go to vote. because most of these states don't do same-day renlstration you are denied the right to vote. that's the first piece, registration. second is ballot access. ballot access is you -- in states that have absentee balloting, you apply for an absentee ballot. it may or may not arrive. jermaine dupri, he had to fly his daughter from miami because her absentee ballot which she applied for never showed up. jermaine dupri ain't my daddy. if downtown have someone who is wealthy enough to actually fly you home to vote, you've been suppressed because your right to vote has been denied because you didn't get your absentee ballot. if you live in mississippi or alabama, you may have to pay a notary public to verify that you have submitted your ballot properly which means you have to pay someone for the right to vote. so ballot access becomes an issue. it's an issue with early voting. moving polling places. georgia has about 3,000 polling
places, precincts. they shut down 214 of them. if you live in a county where there are only two, and now there's one and you don't have a car and the one that you used to go was down the street and the one you have to go now is five to 10 miles away, you are not going to be able to vote because you don't have a car. and so ballot access becomes an issue. the third is counting the ballots and i just refer to that as the florida problem. mr. cobb: i'm sure the people of florida are very happy. [laughter] mr. cobb: very happy to hear that. ms. abrams: they are the example of this. once you submit your ballot, did it actually count? did they actually process it? in georgia we had to go to court four times in the 10-day period between election day and the day of my nonconcession speech and we got 3 1/2 verdascos in our favor. -- verdicts in our favor.
counties were throwing out absentee ballot because their signature didn't match. my signature doesn't match from kroger to wells fargo and they were going against your driver's license 10 years ago and the curly s. they were throwing out absentee ballots because people put the date in the wrong place, because there are two lines that said date. one was birth date and date you were submitting it. it just said date. certain counties were denying the right to vote. and so across the country that ballot counting becomes the issue. registration, ballot access and ballot counting. that's how suppression works. mr. cobb: so i guess the thing that's interesting is there is a narrative that we have about who's rights and anybody seen eyes on the prize, taken an african-american class, we know narrative.
thurgood marshall fighting against the primary in texas. it is the 1965 selma march. it's kind of the pencal points in access to the ballot. how has this been able to persist 50-plus years after the voting rights act? how is this able to be the case? the voting rights act, the last ime it was re-authorized was 98-0 in the senate and yet these deeply anti-democratic, racist practices are able to persist to the current day, how did we get into this situation? ms. abrams: what happened is they perfected the insidious approach to it. it used to be very plain. you just denied them the right to vote. you denied african-americans the right to vote. you denied women the right to vote. it wasn't until the 20th century that native americans
were allowed to vote. and so it's for most of american history, the denial was in the law you couldn't vote. the voting rights act forced it into de facto denial and that was putting in place these obstacles and these barriers that on their face may seem fairly low bars to jump over but when they're yoked together in a system they make it difficult to vote and the challenge that happened for us is the shelby decision in 2013. because, yes, people of good conscience voted for the voting rights act and so did the people that wanted to get elected and not be called racist. what happened in 2013, the guardrails that created -- that kept de facto voting suppression in check, those guardrails were removed. georgia, again, is one of the states that post-shelby has
implemented most of the rules that are considered to be the most insidious when it comes to voter suppression. and i think the inflection point has been the demographic change in america. it's fine for everyone to vote as long as they vote the way you want them to. what has happened is you have a new american majority that is largely comprised of people of z or, millennials and gen unmarried white women and progressives who all align themselves on the side of certain issues and the only way to stop those issues from gaining prime is i and gaining vo -- that inflexion point has accelerated the urgency on other side. you can only control public policy in a democracy by controlling who sets the policy. and voter suppression is the most effective way to block that policy because if you can never elect leaders who reflect your values, those values never gain
traction in the public domain. jelani: it's interesting talking about shelby. i was in north carolina and i was following reverend william barber around. another person who has done a lot of work on this. and i get to this place and people are talking about voter suppression issues and the state. and he's recalling a conversation he's had with a local elected official and one of the truisms of american politics is the lower you go on the hierarchy, the less elegant the lies are. and so this person said, you know, being confronted about voter suppression, and said it was told that it was racist and he said, we don't suppress your votes because you're black. we suppress your vote because you vote for democrats. [laughter]
no idea what was wrong with that statement. all right, then. now we cleared that up. we can just go on about our bills. but there was also another kind of aspect of this that was striking in almost --, it almost seems like something you'd hear about in a country that does not ave a very long history of democratic elections. and that is that one of the candidates in the election was in fact charged with overseeing the election in which he was running. ms. abrams: no experience with that. [laughter] jelani: i mean, this is a personal question like, as you're going into this, like, what is your thinking about -- it's almost like saying, the analogy people gave is being in a boxing match where you're fighting someone who is your opponent and the referee. ms. abrams: yes. and i would add one more.
he was also the score keeper. and that's the challenge. and that again goes to the insidiousness of voter suppression. it was entirely legal. in fact, it's constitutional that he got to do that. the laws allow certain things. and that's one of the lessons from brown v. board of education. when it comes to voter suppression texas not simply an act of something -- suppression, it is not simply an act of something being illegal. it's something being unethical and immoral and we had a layer of incompetence that further stirred the pot. but the reality was, what he did was entirely legal and wholly wrong. but because the law permits it, the remedies are limited. unless you have people who are in power who say that this law should be changed. but you can't get the people into power because the laws say that they can use that power to stop you from voting. and it's that vicious cycle that is so concerning to me and it's why voter suppression in my mind
has to be considered the crisis of our day. because the erosion of our democracy is not simply an authoritarian regime. it is actually using the laws as they exist to undermine the very law making that we desire and that we deserve. jelani: it also seems to me, and i want to talk about fair fight and what you're doing in response to this, but it also seems to me that being somebody that looks at these questions from the historical point of view, that it was these very tactics that led to the grassroots groundswell of activity in the first place. and so it seemed almost like, if you place a pot on the stove and the stove -- and the pot begins to boil, then you turn down the burner and it stops boiling, that you can walk away and come back and go, i wonled what are will happen if i turn this back up. not realizing it's going to have a similar effect. and so in that regard, that's
what i thought of when i saw the news about you being involved in organizing fair fight. could you talk a little bit about what you're doing, what fair fight is doing, and what the strategy is and response to what's happening in georgia? ms. abrams: sure. so, november 6, a day that will live -- sorry. anyway. [laughter] jelani: it will definitely just live. that's right. ms. abrams: that evening i had a decision to make, like so many other candidates. our race was too close to call. but there were cries for me to concede or to say, just to call it. and i wouldn't. in part because we were getting phone calls and emails from across the state of georgia about challenges people were facing. so, in the litany, kiffs you the -- i was cutting myself short, but in the litany of counting ballots and ballot access, georgia had, according to a poll
done or survey done by black pack, had 40% longer lines for african-americans than any state in the country. black people were standing in line for up to four hours and that's assuming they got to vote. if you're a shift worker and every hour you stand in line is an hour worth of pay you're losing, you are not often able to miss an entire day's pay to cast a vote. and so a lot of people just abandoned the opportunity and they went home. or went back to work. and that's not counting the students at the atlanta university center who were given provisional ballots because they ran out of paper. or were not given provisional ballots because they ran out of paper. we had poll workers who were cherry picking who would get a ballot whether they thought they looked like someone who should be able to vote. this was happening in the cradle of the civil rights movement, november 6, 2018. and so that evening my decision to demand that every vote be counted was driven less by a belief that i would be able to
overcome the bad actions of the secretary of state, and more because i understood in that moment my campaign was premised on being a voice for people who had not been seen and heard in the body politic. and my responsibility was to continue to be that voice, regardless of what it meant for my potential outcome. and over the next 10 days, we were able to file lawsuits and we were able to make incremental progress. but at the same time the other side was destroying ballots and not following the law and by the time we got to november 16, the end of the 10-day period, what had happened was that we had been able to demonstrate that voter suppression was real. we received more than 50,000 phone calls and we all know that if 50,000 people called, imagine who didn't call. didn't know they should call or could call. and in that moment, the responsibility i had was to
decide whether i was going to launch a legal battle for myself, which would allow me to contest the election and possibly see if i could become governor anyway. or if i could call an end to that contest, but instead start what i believed to be the larger, more important battle, which is to fight for a fair election in georgia. and i was not alone. my campaign was not the only campaign that faced this challenge. i was just the most public one. and as a fiction writer, it was the perfect archetype. the villain was clear. [laughter] i mean, you just need a mustache and a railroad track. you're the secretary of state declaring yourself the victor of an election you oversaw and you surprisingly won. ok. and i was the first african-american woman to ever have the opportunity, and i came this close. it's a great narrative. like tragedies -- if you like tragedies. [laughter] and for me, the response to
sorrow, the response to anger, is action. i was raised -- [applause] i was raised to believe that you don't simply identify problems, you have to figure out how you intend to solve them. and that sometimes solving the problem doesn't mean you actually win. so the solution to this challenge does not mean i get to be governor. if we fix all of the election laws in georgia, nothing will undo the decision made on november 6, 2018. but fair fight action is my responsibility because it says that this should not happen to anyone else. that the election that's happening, there's going to be an election in march in the most diverse county in georgia to determine whether they get access to public transit. i mean, it's 2019 and we're having a fight over whether people should be able to get public transit. my responsibility for fair fight
is to lift up that responsibility and talk about why that vote matters and make sure it's a fair fight. what we're doing is three things. one, we filed a mammoth lawsuit, 64-page complaint, that as i said yolks together all of those pieces of voter suppression and says that as a system in the state of georgia, the right to vote has been substantially harmed and that disenfranchisement is occurring at a level that violates the 14th and 15th amendments. voting rights and the georgia constitution. and it's just wrong. the second is that we are pushing for better legislation, because we know that litigation may not turn out the way we want it to. we're also pushing for better legislation. luckily there's an organization that's been created actually by members of the house of representatives in the senate in georgia called the voting rights caucus and they're going to be pushing for better laws around absentee ballots, but also to stop us from having hackable machines. because that was also an issue with the secretary of state. he oversaw some of the oldest and most incompetent machines in
the country and refused homeland security's support to ensure that the right to vote wasn't compromised. and then the third is advocacy. we have to continue to tie the vote to the issues. voting by itself is, ok, fine, we'll vote. but when people understand that if you want access to health care, you have to vote, if you believe criminal justice reform is real and true, you have to vote. if you want people to pick up your trash every week and not every two weeks, you have to vote. and so part of fair fight's responsibility is to connect the dots between the public policy outcomes that are either impugned by or made real by that. jelani: i'm going to go back to a conversation we had, i think it was actually before you nnounced your candidacy. we've talked about your strategy of bringing in more people, expanding the electorate, and
the previous -- the last election, 2014, nathan diehl and jason carter, i think it was 2.4 million, 2.5 million people voted in that election. in this election, 3.9 million people voted. and so he got about 1.1 million voters and you got about 1.9 million. ms. abrams: and 23,000. not that i was counting. [laughter] jelani: 800,000 voter expansion. so when we had this conversation , though, you were talking about this, and so if you live in georgia, for any point in time, for any -- within six months you will hear about the 500,000 unregistered black voters. i lived in atlanta for 11 years. and i kept hearing about the 500,000 unregistered black voters. so we were talking, you said that this was, you were going to
expand the electorate and bring people out. and i was like, do those people even exist? are we sure those people are there? and you were like, these people are there, they are a viable electorate and i was like, but they didn't come out for obama. and you were like, we're going to do things to actually go further than what the obama campaign did in georgia to make this -- to make a difference here. so, one, i want to concede being wrong in my skepticism. [laughter] because you could hear my eyebrow raise over the phone. ms. abrams: i heard your eyes roll. [laughter] jelani: but the other part of it goesre significantly, what into mobilizing these electorates. not just in georgia, but specifically your experience in georgia. and is that applicable to progressives and people of color running in the south, and elsewhere, in the coming elections? ms. abrams: brookings is not
partisan. i don't have that problem. i am partisan. i will say, this advice is not for anyone who is not a democrat. [laughter] number one, you have to start early. when you and i have the conversation, it was after i had been in the leadership position in the house for seven years. and over that seven-year period, i had been laying the groundwork for this transform in our electorate. number one, you have to hire people who can go into these communities, who understand these communities. and who -- and it is true that anyone can ask. but people tend to listen to those who remind them of themselves. cultural competence matters. it is a real thing. what we've been doing since i became leader, i've been building a team of young people, by and large because i couldn't pay them much, training them to do this work, and training them to be hired by campaigns. because often campaigns tend
torrell gate communities of color in particular to certain jobs and that's it. so we had been working for seven years to build a cohort that was multiracial, multiethnic, reflected religious differences, sexual orientation differences. we had a truly representative sample of georgia imbedded in our campaign and that is critical. because when we launched in may of 2017, a year before the election, we were the only campaign going into communities. we had the first latino media round table, the first asian-pacific islander round table. the first lgbtq round table. we met with black papers, but we also talked about how do we invest in each of your mediums? how do we make sure while everyone's thinking about, how do i get on abc, i'm making sure that i'm in the patch. we're pushing things into communities at the local level. the second -- so that was number two. number three was that we actually began conversations in
communities. we didn't create artificial groups. we asked people who said they were interested, what do you want to do, and then we funded them. we resourced that. there were a lot of pundits who decried our campaign for being profligate with our spending because we were spending up to 80% of our money every month, reaching out to voters. which they thought was insane. they're like, she's talking to voters. she should be saving that money for media. like, i want them to vote, so i'm going to ask them to vote. but that investment was different. and these are communities that had never seen it. by the time we got to the general, we were the first campaign in georgia history to run spanish language television ads. jelani: seriously? ms. abrams: yes. jelani: wow. [applause] ms. abrams: thank you. jelani: that's astonishing. ms. abrams: yes. but real. we ran the first bilingual canvas. we had our walk cards in spanish, korean, vietnamese,
chinese. we made sure that every community, regardless of their size, was hearing from us. because we don't believe in turnout models. meaning you just go to the people who are going to vote for you and you talk to them at the end. everyone was a persuasion target. i had to convince everyone they liked me. i didn't take anyone for granted. that's why we were also the complain, i believe, that were on both country music radio and urban radio at the exact same time. [laughter] but what we did differently was that we spent a commensurate amount based on the size of the population. and when it happened in previous elections, there was an oversampled spending on communities that were very narrowingly likely to vote and there was a deep underspend of communities that shared your values but were taken for granted. i took nothing for granted. in the end, we ran a campaign that was the most -- we raised more money than any campaign in georgia history. i received more votes than any democrat in georgia history, including president obama and secretary clinton. we tripled latino turnout.
tripled asian-pacific islander turnout, increased youth turnout by 139%. and in 2014 -- [applause] hold on. one more number. [laughter] in 2014 1.1 million democrats voted. in 2018 1.2 million .frican-americans voted [applause] of ll of that centering communities of color, having conversations about the lgbtq community as be a ally, doing all of that work was supposed to distance me from the white vote. i received a higher percentage of the white vote than any candidate on the democratic side of the aisle in more than 20 years. [applause] jelani: people usually decry hat very kind of outreach, which is basically democracy, as identity politics. [laughter] people disparage it as identity politics.
alicia garza, one of the founders of black lives matter, had a great line about that. she said, yeah, we're organizing people who identify as being left out. so it's amazing that you can pull that off. i want to make sure we have time to have questions from the audience and we'll have like a little bit of -- wait. [laughter] going to ask one or two more questions then i'll telling you all to formulate your questions. right? so when we go to you, you'll have your questions in hand. so, if you're saying for georgia, three or four bullet point things that you do right off the bat to make this a more democratic state, what do you change? ms. abrams: be aant -- absentee ballot rules need to be uniform. number two, registration rules need to be uniform and they should not disadvantage communities that are trying to register. and three, we need new machines
and they need to be hand marked paper ballots that are verifiable, auditable and acceptable. we had too many counties and too many precincts where you had three or -- 3,000 or 4,000 people showing up and they two machines, one that was missing a power cord. so making sure everyone gets registered, making sure that folks have actual access to the ballot, and making sure every vote gets counted. jelani: that's a very georgia-specific question that i want to ask you a bigger national. i can fit in two questions. a bigger national question. you commented on this recently. the kind of looming possibility that the president will declare a state of emergency as a means of getting funds to build his border wall. and you had a very succinct explanation for how people should respond to that. ms. abrams: don't. [laughter] jelani: yeah.
ms. abrams: here's the reality. he's either going to do it or he is not. the rationale for doing so is that he is trying to gain political clout, having failed miserably in the actual political process. and that political clout is only gained by us giving him air time and space and for there to be american histrionics over once again his flouting of our basic norms. we have a system that will deal with that. the judicial system. there will be lawsuits filed. and it is absolutely a true thing that nancy pelosi and others should decry the lawlessness of his behavior. but what we cannot do is turn it into a 24 had been hour -- 24-hour, seven-day a week circus teeth,e nas -- gnash our proving that he does not understand how america works. we have to deny him the audience. [applause] jelani: last question. are you going to run for senate?
ms. abrams: i do not know. you want more? [laughter] jelani: in interviewing, one of the things that we were taught was, don't say anything. ask a question and then just be quiet. ms. abrams: we were taught to say you what need to and stop talking. [laughter] jelani: this is this is what is called a stalemate. ms. abrams: there you go. jelani: ok. so questions. let me get my little kind of preface. a question is a request for information. [laughter] it is typically identified by the inflexion at the end of the sentence. [laughter] in written form, this is represented by a question mark. so, please phrase your question in the form of a question. [laughter] and also, we can kind of do --
in order to ensure that as many people as possible get to ask a question, can we be as us is didn't as you can be in your -- succinct as you can be in your phrasing, and i'll take three questions at a time, and then we will kind of deal with those, and then we'll go for another round. so we can kind of do speed rounds. -- yeah.start with hello, r: [inaudible] hello. do you think the voter age should be changed to 16? because we have a voice also. i'm 18 now. but still. also, we are smart also. jelani: ok, great. we're going to get two more questions. questioner: [inaudible] -- would you consider running the national democratic committee?
questioner: hi. would you consider running the democratic national committee with the ideas that you have for getting everybody to vote? ms. abrams: one more question. ms. abrams: hey, leader abrams. i go to college georgia and state university and helped campaign for you. so great to be here. my question is, h.r. 1. it's a bill in the house right now. it's the for the people act on campaign and like voter laws and everything with that. what are your thoughts on h.r. 1? jelani: the three questions we have are, should the voting age be lowered to 16? do you have any interest in running the d.n.c.? and what is your -- what are your thoughts on h.r. 1? ms. abrams: on the age of 16. i think that that is a worthy
question. i would start with local elections, namely the school board. because i think that's the most direct connection between young people and the necessity of hearing their voices. i believe that municipal elections, because of the granularity what have they do, if we're going to experiment with age and access, i think starting with municipal elections makes most sense because it's closest to the people and it's a contained universe. but i am not opposed to the conversation. t i think we need to understand a bit better and because we've kept you out of the conversation for so long, i think starting with municipal and school board elections is the right place to start. , no i do not want to run the d.n.c. [laughter] i work very closely with chairman perez and with his team. i think what they are doing is important and what i'm pleased about is that the conversation of voter suppression is happening across the country at every level of government. marcia fudge is going to be in
georgia next week doing hearings. she was in brownsville, texas, last week. we are doing the work, but we need the conversation to continue because the myth of voter fraud has taken on the air of truth. we need to make sure it's the truth of voter suppression takes on the air of urgency. h.r. 1 i think is a smart approach. the challenge with h.r. 1 is con flates so many ideas -- conflates so many ideas into one bill. as an opening sal vo, i think it was the -- salvo, i think it was the necessary one. what my hope is going to be is that we see substantial change in the composition of the senate. i'm not saying anything about my role in that. other than i'm going to make sure georgia elects a senator. that reflects our values. but the goal for me is to make certain that the conversation starts and i think h.r. 1 was an excellent conversation starter and that the pieces that are imbedded therein are important parts of our national narrative. jelani: we'll go for the next round of three questions. the young lady in the red in the back.
then the young lady in the black next to her. and on this side, the lady with the glasses on her nose. questioner: i know we were speculating but he did just declare a national emergency to build the wall. so what are your thoughts? questioner: hello. my name's amani moore. i went to school in atlanta, georgia. i want to ask, for lack of a better word, didlusion the election discourage you in any way? f so, how? questioner: renee, i write for "the afro." our community wants to know, what is it going to take to lect a democrat in 2020? jelani: our questions are, apparently the state of emergency has just been declared? and -- i'm sorry, that question below thed out your question.
your question once more? ms. abrams: was i discouraged. jelani: oh, were you discharged -- discouraged? questioner: and if so, how? jelani: and how do we win in 2020? ms. abrams: yes, there's been a national emergency declared. i do believe that immediately, the moment he determines how he intends to fund his emergency, it's the praguetific of the president to declare an emergency. i don't think we need to abrogate. that it's a question of whether or not he can unilaterally move funds in order to finance his declaration. that is the issue. and that is where i believe we need immediate judicial intervention and i believe that speaker pelosi and leader schumer need to take actions within congress to dispute it through the resolution power that they have. there is no emergency. it is a falsehood and it is entirely a political stunt. and hopefully he will find that this stunt has the same effect
that his last one did, which is to illuminate the lack of empathy he has for americans, and the lack of understanding and respect he has for our body politic. [applause] but nobody should write about it that much. ac knock it -- acknowledge my -- what happened and move on. jelani: i hear my editor saying, jelani, you need to write about this. ms. abrams: it needs to be framed in terms of telling people what to do. if it backs 24/7s remaintation and, again, -- 24/7 crecitation, and again, beating our breast saying how terrible it is, he will or won't. he's the slowedinger's cat of politics. sorry, i'm about to go down a spiral. my point is, there's no necessity to give this more air time than today. because it will either be thwarted by our laws,er to will be made real in which case they need to be prepared for the
consequences. and i'll get to 2020 in a second. discouraged. no. i liken my current state to bruce banner in the avengers movie. when captain america -- jelani: you are racking up nerd points here. [laughter] ms. abrams: i am a big nerd. there's a scene in the avengers movie where captain america or someone asks bruce banner how he becomes the hulk, how he turns it off and on. he gives this glib answer and then at the end when they're fighting the invaders, captain america urgently says, i need you to turn into -- you've got to become the hulk. you need to get angry. and he turns around with this half smile and he's like, i'm always angry. i'm always angry. what was done in 2018, i am livid about it. i am sad. i believe that there are good things that we could be doing in the state of georgia that will not happen because someone did not do his job or manipulated
the power in his job to get a job. i can't prove that i would have won but i promise you i probably would be right. and in lieu thereof, but i'm more angry about the thousands of people who showed up for the first time and were told that their votes were invalid. i'm angry about those who might decide not to vote ever again because this was so grotesque. and that makes me mad. but as i said earlier, i turn mying aner into action. so fair fight action exists. we're going to do work on the census called fair count. it's motivating me to do even more. and one day i'll decide, by the end of march i'll decide what political office i want to run for. but, no, i'm not discouraged from action. i am encouraged that i have more work to do and that's my job. and part of that is making sure that we win in 2020. the way we win in 2020 is that we have to remember, democrats did not lose to trump. we failed to show up.
and there were legitimate reasons for that failure. voter suppression. the approach taken to actually trying to encourage people to vote. we did not do the hard work. and i'm using the royal we. the apparatus of winning an election in 2016 was flawed. because too many people did not hear themselves reflected in the narrative, or they were not directly encouraged to turn out and vote. and we lost by 70,000 votes through an artificial system called the electoral college. but wisconsin is now run by a democratic governor. michigan is run by a democratic governor. pennsylvania is run by a democratic governor. we know how to turn out democrats in those communities. and if we add georgia and arizona to the mix, as competitive states, which i believe we have proven we are, we have a buffer. and so my responsibility in 2020 is to make sure that georgia delivers 16 electoral votes to make certain that the democrat -- that a democrat wins. if we run smart campaigns that value every voter and treats all
voters with respect, that are grounded if our values and not a pretense that we hold the other side's values, you cannot pretend to be someone who has a different ideological base. that's what's happened in years past. don't think that's what secretary clinton did but this pretender to the throne approach cannot work. we have to have authentic candidates who tell the truth. people may not agree with you. because most people didn't agree with everything i said. but they trusted that i was telling the truth and that's why she showed up and that's how we win in 2020. [applause] jelani: to your point about the people who have been taken for granted. it's shocking for you to be the first black woman nominee for governor in a democratic party whose most reliable voting base is black women. [applause] yeah, you should -- that's a
question. i mean, you want to talk about thapping, right, right -- that happening, right, right. but how does that happen and are black women voters being a category that's been taken for granted in a larger group that's been taken for granted? ms. abrams: you take for granted the most reliable thing. you assume your car's going turn on every time you go outside. and when something goes horribly wrong, you don't check -- once you check all the systems, and you find your tire pressure is low but your engine is dead, you're going to fix the engine. you eventually get to the gas station and inflate the tires. black women have been the tires of the car for a long time. because we're generally reliable, and when we cut out, it's not with the drama of everyone else. because we've never done it. we don't just stop. we do it all the time. because we understand, i think, more acutely -- acutely than almost any community the consequence of inaction.
but the reality is, we also require the care and feeding and the investment and the acknowledgment of our reliability. but it's hard, it's complicated and it's mean. i had more friends break my heart in this campaign than the worst thing said about me by the republican national committee. and it was people who have known me for years who said, you know we think you're the best qualified candidate, but you're a black woman. like they were which is pering it to me like they were giving me a diagnosis. i've seen me. i know. [laughter] but i say that to say that, it is insufficient to think -- thank black women. you have to invest. you have to support. and you have to vote for them. that's how it works. [applause] jelani: ok. speed round. we have these last few questions in here and if you talk like an
auctioneer we can make this happen. there's one person who has like a booster section here. one, then in the green here. then like a young person -- ms. abrams: the woman in the gray has had her hand up since i walked into the room. jelani: the woman in the gray and the woman on this side and the woman in the green right here. ms. abrams: we need to be diverse. there's a gentleman standing on this side. [laughter] elani: ok, well. we're all in favor of inclusion here. ms. abrams: there you go. you need to ask a really good question. jelani: as succinctly as you possibly can questioner: hi. i'm shik. i'm the national committee women for the d.c. young dems. i'd like to thank you for everything you've accomplished and the example you've set for us. but also i'd like to know, how can we be supportive of fair fight from d.c.?
what can we do, how can we bring young people down, just what's next? questioner: hi, i'm a journalist with whowhatwhy.org. we did a lot in georgia to talk about the voter suppression there. you and he the question about why -- and he the question about why -- shouldn't this be even a bigger priority for all democrats? we don't really hear that much about voter suppression in the larger democratic party discussion. questioner: hi. i'm founder of stop violence against women. my question is about disinformation. how much do you think -- jelani: say the name of the group one more time. questioner: stop online violence against women. we focus on disinformation in social media campaigns that discourage people to get out to vote. how much do you think that that was part of what was happening for you on the ground in
georgia? jelani: as you -- questioner: as you decide among the people running for president on the democratic side in 2020, i'm not asking you to endorse anybody, i'm asking you which criteria or considerations you're going to weight most heavily as you consider all those different cat -- candidates. jelani: number one, the answer is that we need to sign up at fairfight action.com. we will share information about what's going on and it's directly linked to the next question which is that the most important issue that we have to raise awareness of voter suppression as an issue. we are using georgia's ground zero because it's the most perfect incapslation of what's happening but it's not the only place. d.c., you guys would like to be a state, i think. [laughter] it matters who gets elected around the country. that means you have to have fair elections around the country. sign up at fairfightaction.com and we'll tell you all the things we need you to do, both small and large. yes we have to talk more about
it. part of the reason i was on seth meyers last night, i'm with dr. j elani c.b.o. today and i will be everyone, is i believe we have to make this a larger conversation. we've been told -- we've been taught to think that it's pitying ourselves to say that suppression is the issue. and if you read all of the responses to my state of the union response, most of them decry that this is true, if fact there's some new study saying voter i.d. laws don't hurt you, therefore voter suppression isn't real. number one, it's an argument that has no merit but they know it's real and therefore they're afraid we'll keep talking about it. our response has to be the opposite what have we do about the national emergency. we need to talk about this all the time. every pundit, every journalist, every election, every day. because voter suppression doesn't happen on election day alone. it happens through -- between elections. and on elections. and therefore we have to talk about it every day. you wanted to -- jelani: the criteria --
ms. abrams: disinformation. i will say this. they lied about me on television. it was less about going online to do it. but i do think disinformation campaigns do suppress the votes in a lot of communities. less by giving disinformation about the candidate more about giving bad information about how elections work. so that's why i talk about voter suppression, not only an app rats of rules, it's also -- apparatus of rules, it's also a psychic effect. that's a piece we have to be so aggressive about. making sure people aren't despondent about voter suppression, they're angry about it. if you're angry, you do something. if you're despondent, you curl up in bed. here's my criteria. one, you need to be authentic. i may not agree with everything you say, but do not pretend on thursday that you didn't say something on tuesday. [laughter] number two, have a clear vision for where you want the country to be and be willing to say it out loud. i talked about issues in my campaign that no one had heard about.
and not everyone agreed with me. but they knew where i stood and -- you want someone to foul, they have to trust they know where you're leading them. you have to talk to everyone. anyone who says they don't see color, that they don't understand the gender matters, anyone who decries identity does not deserve to have the identity of president. [applause] jelani: i think that's the perfect summation. can we thank stacey abrams again. cheers and applause] ms. abrams: thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019]
>> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. and today we continue to bring you unfiltered conference of congress, the white house -- coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events in washington, and around the country -- washington, d.c., and around the country. c-span is -- c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >> president trump this morning declared a national emergency
along the country's southern border. under the designation, the president can redirect funds from a number of pentagon and treasury department programs to fund construction of a wall at the border. here's a bit of his announcement this morning. president trump: so i'm going to be signing a national emergency. it's been signed many times before. it's been signed by other presidents from 1977 or so it gave the presidents the power. there's rarely been a problem. they sign it. nobody cares.
i guess they weren't very exciting. but nobody cares. they sign it. for far less important things, in some cases, in many cases. whichary talking about an in-- we're talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs. we have some of the greatest people. i know. they have been from the beginning of my campaign. almost from the same week. angel moms. unfortunately we have new angel moms. one incredible woman just showed me her daughter who we're talking about killed in the year of 18. i said i haven't seen you before. she said, no, i'm new. i said, it's too bad. it's too bad. it's so sad. stand up just for a second. show how beautiful your girl was. thank you. i have such respect for these people. angel moms angel dads, angel families. i have great respect for these people. these are great people. these are great people. they're fighting foyer their children that have been killed by people that were illegally in this country. and the press doesn't cover them. they don't want to, incredibly. and they're not treated the way they should be. they're fighting for other
people because they don't want what happened to their children or husband or anybody. we have one young lady whose husband -- please, stand up. your husband was just killed in aryland. incredible man. just killed. eautiful children. won't be seeing their father again. these are brave people. they don't have to be here. they don't have to be doing this. they're doing it for other people. so i just want to thank all of you for being here. ok. i really do. i want to thank you. i credible people. >> the president's plan would spend just over 8 billion over the u.s.-mexico border. that includes the $1.4 billion approved by congress and $7.7 billion that the national emergency allows the president to redirect for military construction. pentagon drug interdiction programs and treasury department
asset forfeiture programs. we'll show you the entire announcement from the white house rose garden in about an hour and a half. and again tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span. next, a discussion with journalist. she covers migration, human rights and gender equality for "time" magazine, national geographic and other media outlets. she spoke at colorado college in colorado springs last week. >> hello, everybody. thanks for coming. good evening. i know there's something else you could be doing at 7:00 p.m. this evening. glad to see you here. i'm cory hutchins. on behalf of the program and the journalism minor, i want to thank you all for coming tonight. i want to particularly thank the newly founded journalism institute here at colorado college, director steven heyward, as well as the journalist and residence program which is fundinth