Stacy Abrams knows voting rights. Starting in college, she worked on voter registration drives. And this led her to more civic service, including serving for ten years in the Georgia State House of Representatives. You may be more familiar with her because of her 2018 run for Governor of Georgia. Unfortunately, she lost that race.
And while this book is about broader topics, Abrams does discuss some of her run for Governor. What’s especially relevant is that the 2018 race spurred her to create two non-profit organizations. One is Fair Fight, which combats voter suppression. The other is Fair Count, and that works to educate people, especially people of color, about the U.S. Census.
In Our Time is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America, Abrams covers both topics thoroughly. She integrates stories of her own family, her former constituents from her time in the Georgia State House, and other folks she’s met along the way. But mostly, this is a hard-hitting book with information packed pages.
Abrams starts by addressing the dangers of populism, and how it can lean a democracy towards authoritarianism. And once you’re motivated to stand up for democracy, then actually making your vote count is everything. But those in power aren’t always on board this train. They want to derail voters’ ability to make their voices heard.
Whether it’s the right to vote, or voter registration purges, voter ID rules, polling place closings, or ballot counting fiascos Abrams covers all the details. She also discusses how and why this happens more than ever today. (Hint: look up the landmark 2013 Supreme Court decision, Shelby v. Holder.)
Explain the Problem, Then Offer Solutions
The best part of a book like this is the author’s ability to offer solutions. Otherwise it’s all just depressing and disheartening. Abrams has solutions in spades. She reminds her readers to stay in the game and fight. Then, she explains how completing your census is civic engagement, and how it relates to local, state, and national politics.
Next, Abrams takes on identity politics, explaining why those in power frown on it. And, more importantly, how it can be used to make governmental bodies look more like our country’s diverse population.
Abrams also explains the way political campaigns rank voters, from those who always vote to those who rarely or never do. And she offers exact reasons why campaigns should be reaching for voters in The New American Majority (also called the Rising American Electorate). That’s the majority of voting-eligible citizens and is comprised of unmarried women, people of color and young people. Reaching those voters, Abrams says, is key to winning elections, now more than ever.
Because Abrams digs into both sides of the issue—problems and solutions—I came away inspired. We have hope. But we also have a lot of work to do. And Abrams give us marching orders.
I’m appreciative of her global perspective on an American issue. She isn’t afraid to experience political discourse from other countries, which enhances her ideas here.
No matter what you think of Abrams as a political figure, you owe it to yourself to read this book. It’s part civics textbook, part rallying cry, and part personal perspective. I’m glad she’s in the game and working to build a more equal democracy for all Americans.
I recommend if you’re looking for specific voting rights or voter suppression information. It’s both comprehensive and compelling.