Abrams: 'Identity politics is exactly who we are and exactly how we won'

Abrams: 'Identity politics is exactly who we are and exactly how we won'
© Getty Images

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on Wednesday urged Democrats to embrace identity politics, at a time when the issue has become a source of debate within the party.

Speaking at the Center for American Progress’s Ideas Conference, Abrams warned that the term “identity politics” had been twisted by those aiming to silence emergent minority voters seeking political power for the first time.

“The notion of identity politics has been peddled for the past 10 years and it’s been used as a dog whistle to say we shouldn’t pay too much attention to the voices coming into progress,” Abrams said. “I would argue that identity politics is exactly who we are and exactly how we won.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The Georgia Democrat argued that identity politics had “brought new folks to the process,” and that a failure to focus on racial differences would give minority voters the impression “they have no reason to engage and no reason to show up.”

“When I hear Democratic candidates, progressive candidates, American candidates decrying the identity of their voters, I’m deeply worried for our democracy,” Abrams said.

Abrams has not ruled out a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Buttigieg, a 2020 presidential contender who is white and gay, ignited a fierce debate among Democrats earlier this month when he said that “so-called identity politics” had contributed to a “crisis of belonging” in the country that has “divided and carved up” people of different backgrounds.

Buttigieg has so far struggled to attract support from people of color. But he’s made minority outreach a priority, holding meetings with Al Sharpton and black leaders in South Carolina, including House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D).

As mayor of South Bend, Buttigieg believes he’s uniquely positioned to speak to the working-class voters that broke for President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed MORE in the past election.

In his speech to a prominent LGBTQ group, Buttigieg said that “divisive lines of thinking” had seeped into the Democratic Party, leaving some feeling as if they need to “choose between supporting an auto worker and supporting a trans woman of color, without stopping to think about the fact that sometimes the auto worker is a trans woman of color.”

He acknowledged that minority groups face challenges that white people do not and he lashed out at Trump for embracing “peak white identity politics.”

But he also warned that an obsessive focus on identity politics would leave the nation “divided and carved up” hurt Democrats as they seek to win back working-class voters. 

“The more you know about exclusion, the more you think about belonging,” Buttigieg said. “And we have a crisis of belonging in this country.”