On Monday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) went on The View and promptly schooled Meghan McCain on the real meaning of “defund the police.” This morning, it was Stacey Abrams’ turn.
Abrams, who was promoting her latest book Our Time Is Now, spoke out against the voting disaster this week in her home state of Georgia. After Abrams blamed the Republican secretary of state for showing a “deliberate indifference to the needs of Georgia voters,” McCain tried to spin the situation on the ground in a different way.
“There’s a lot of finger pointing going on, and you seem to be implying it was Georgia’s secretary of state who was targeting communities of color,” McCain said. “But most of the counties that had issues this week were run by Democrats. Do you think we should be quick to blame Republicans when most of the problems like consolidated polling locations and older poll workers canceling over health concerns were a result of the coronavirus?”
“So I want to decouple a couple of things,” Abrams began. She calmly explained to McCain that in the state of Georgia, the secretary of state is in charge of elections, something she knows well from running for governor against former secretary of state Brian Kemp, who refused to recuse himself during his own election. “We allow counties to do the direct implementation, but it’s the responsibility of the secretary of state to make sure they know how to do it and that they have the resources to get it done.”
Abrams went on to call out the “false narrative that the secretary of state has pushed out this is only happening because of Democratic leadership,” telling McCain, “This affected every single part of our state, and the reality is your access to democracy shouldn’t depend on your county of residence.” She added: “Fundamentally we deserve to have elections that work for everyone.”
Later in the show, when it was McCain’s turn to ask Abrams another question, she brought up recent comments she made suggesting that the United States is in the “early stages” of an authoritarian regime and comparing the Trump administration to Erdoğan’s Turkish regime—comments made on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, of all places.
Given that Erdoğan is a “horrific, murderous dictator,” McCain wanted to know, “Do you really think it’s fair to call the United States no better than Turkey?”
“I didn’t call it no better than Turkey,” Abrams shot back. “I said that we’re on the path to populist authoritarianism.” After explaining that Erdoğan was a democratically elected president who “over time diminished the utility of the courts by packing it with people who supported him, he eliminated the voices of those who were supposed to be the independent guardrails on democracy and he used that power to call for militarization of their public institutions,” Abrams said, “We are seeing evidence of that in the United States.”
“Now I’m not comparing apples to oranges, but I’m saying they are all fruit of the same poisonous tree,” Abrams continued. “And we need to take steps now to ensure that our presidency is not a gateway to the types of authoritarian regimes we’ve seen in Turkey, that we’ve seen pop up in Hungary, what we’re seeing in India, and what Jair Bolsonaro is trying to do in Brazil.”
“We have to acknowledge the authoritarian nature of Donald Trump,” Abrams concluded. “And we've got to nip it in the bud if we want democracy to continue here and if we want to continue to be the moral leader abroad.”
There wasn’t much McCain could say to that.