In a politically correct media climate where declaring the least bit of sympathy for Confederate history is akin to committing a hate crime, there may be no real way to tell just how damaging the revelation that the Democratic candidate for Georgia governor, Stacey Abrams, burned the Georgia state flag while in college in 1992 will be to her electoral hopes.
Abrams has publicly gone after Confederate monuments in the past.
Undoubtedly it should help Republican opponent Brian Kemp, to some extent, in his attempts to paint Abrams as too radical for the governor’s office. But Georgia residents angered by the heavily reported image of Abrams burning the flag on the steps of the Georgia Capitol probably won’t be telling liberal media figures and pollsters how they feel about it any time soon.
Most non-radical Americans know by now that there is no point in sharing their honest beliefs on controversial issues with a biased media. After all, who wants to talk to an outlet like CNN that publishes tripe like this article calling the flag burning a righteous act, written by a frequent commentator on their network, Jill Filipovic?
“There are indeed white voters who cast their ballots on identity politics alone, in favor of candidates they see as upholding their unearned racial supremacy and against those candidates they see as pushing for a more equal playing field.”
The issue was not a major talking point in the Oct. 23 televised debate between Abrams and Kemp. Abrams was not defensive about her act at all in her remarks:
“Twenty-six years ago, as a college freshman, I along with many other Georgians, including the governor of Georgia, were deeply disturbed by the racial divisiveness that was embedded in the state flag with that Confederate symbol. I took an action of peaceful protest.”
“And I want to say that I’m a very proud Georgian,” Abrams emphasized both before and after her statement.
Abrams has publicly gone after Confederate monuments in the past, so Georgians heavily vested in Confederate Heritage causes likely already had a negative opinion of her. In 2017, she called for the removal of the enormous Stone Mountain carving of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis.
In a series of tweets on the carving, Abrams could not be more clear about her antipathy to the once-cherished “Lost Cause” of the Deep South. “We must never celebrate those who defended slavery and tried to destroy the Union,” one of the tweets reads. Can you imagine a Georgia politician running for statewide office saying that as recently as 20 years ago?
The fact is, despite stated claims to being a “uniter” who can work with Republicans, Abrams’ campaign has been pursuing a very specific formula that doesn’t include old Georgians.
“We’re building a new coalition that hasn’t been built for a Democrat in Georgia in the current era,” Abrams campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo told Time in July.
“That’s what it’s going to take. Communities of color plus progressive-leaning whites are a majority of the population.”
The Abrams campaign is calculating that its new progressive coalition will simply outnumber conservatives and those who may cherish Confederate historical ties. In this regard, the flag-burning revelation won’t harm her original campaign strategy.
Georgia is ranked 10th among states with the most Hispanic residents in the U.S. and has the fastest-growing Hispanic population of those top states, according to a 2017 Pew Research report.
A 2015 Pew report found that of 78 counties across America that went from majority white to minority white, four of the five counties with the biggest change were located in Georgia.
“This trend stems from a flat or declining number of whites in each of these four Georgia counties… combined with a large and growing black population and a smaller Hispanic population that is also increasing in number,” Pew stated.
With polls showing the race a statistical toss-up, every vote may count and Abrams may regret that old flag-burning image coming back to haunt her. If her demographic calculations are correct, however, it will not matter.