On perhaps becoming the first black and first woman governor: “When no one has done what you want to do, it’s hard for people to see that it can be done.”
On this episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, Stacey Abrams, a Democrat running for governor of Georgia, talks about the early stages of her campaign and what is means to run as the first woman to be a state governor. She explains how she is using technology and how she contends with some voters’ reductive tendency only to think of her as “the black candidate.”
You can read some of the highlights here, or listen to the entire interview in the audio player below. We’ve also provided a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.
Kara Swisher: Recode Radio presents Recode Decode, coming to you from the Vox Media Podcast Network.
Hi, I’m Kara Swisher, executive editor of Recode. You may know me as someone who would be a Georgia peach, if only I were from Georgia and felt like being nice. But in my spare time I talk tech and you’re listening to Recode Decode, a podcast about tech and media’s key players, big ideas and how they’re changing the world we live in. You can find more episodes of Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Or just visit recode.net/podcasts for more.
Today I’m in New York City with my friend Hilary Rosen. She’s a political strategist for SKDKnickerbocker and a political commentator for CNN. Hey, Hilary.
Hilary Rosen: Hey, Kara.
KS: How you doing?
HR: I am awesome.
KS: Good. Throughout November, Hilary and I are doing a bunch of interviews together where she is my guest host, talking to some really interesting people from the political world for bonus episodes of Recode Decode. Apparently you all can’t get enough and so we’re going to give you more.
Today’s guest is Stacey Abrams, a candidate for governor of Georgia. She formerly served in Georgia’s general assembly and was its House minority leader. Stacy, welcome to Recode Decode.
Stacey Abrams: Thank you for having me.
KS: Thanks for coming in. It’s great, you’re in New York, just around, running around, meeting people.
KS: Let’s get started about your background. One of the things we do on Recode Decode — even if it’s Bill Gates — we want to know how you got to where you got. Give me your quick background in terms of how you moved up the political … where you grew up and things like that.
Sure. I was born in Wisconsin. I only remember being cold. We moved back to Mississippi, which is where my parents are from, when I was 3. So I actually grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi. My mom was a college librarian, my dad was a shipyard worker, but we still struggled like a lot of families. We were working class, working poor. My mom didn’t like that so she called us genteel poor. We had no money but we watched PBS and we read books.
KS: All right.
Finished high school in Georgia. My parents decided to become ministers at the age of 40, so I was a junior. We moved to Georgia. I graduated from high school there, went to Spelman College, went to UT Austin for graduate school, went to Yale for law school. Had to get a real job, came back to Atlanta, became a tax attorney, and then began my trajectory of downward economic mobility.
KS: Good work.
So I went from being a tax attorney to being a city attorney for Atlanta.
KS: The city attorney for Atlanta.
Exactly, so I was a deputy. I managed a team of about 20 lawyers by the end of my tenure.
KS: That’s an appointed position, right?
It is. I was appointed by the city attorney and the mayor. Then went from that job, ran for the state House in 2006, got elected. Served in the House for four years and then decided I should be the minority leader so I ran for that in 2010. I was elected by my colleagues and did that until 2017, about a few months ago when I stepped down to run for governor.
KS: All right, so what got you into politics? I should ask, what got you into being a tax attorney, but you’ve moved on from that. What gave you the impetus to move into politics itself?
I think that poverty is immoral and economically inefficient. I watched my parents try their best to mitigate it. In Mississippi they would take us to volunteer a lot. I once asked, “Shouldn’t there be someone who could do this besides six kids and my two parents?” Eight people seemed like a lot of … just not enough investment in trying to solve this problem. My parents said, “That’s called government.” The government is supposed to put together the systems to help address these issues, and it wasn’t working.
I became fascinated by how you could make that system work, and then I became fascinated by the conversation of where the private sector fit in and the nonprofit sector. For me, politics is part of a triumvirate of learnings that I’ve tried to have. I’ve started small businesses, I’ve run nonprofit organizations. And for me, politics is one of those pieces that you have to understand. Government has to be done better if we want to serve people.
KS: When you got into doing this, did you think you were a natural politician? Was it …
God, no. I am deeply introverted. My closest friends and my family know that this is the least likely job for me to have based on my basic personality. But they also know I’m very determined. I like systems, I like efficiency, and I found that if I couldn’t make politicians do what I wanted I needed to become one myself.
KS: Become one yourself. And was there a moment where you were like, “I’m going to do this?” Like, “That guy is driving me crazy.”
HR: There are so many I would assume … Georgia, everywhere.
Well you know, the first time I ran for office and actively thought about it was in college, because there was an inequity …
KS: At Spelman.
At Spelman College, there was an inequity in the distribution of two-ply and one-ply toilet paper, which to me was emblematic of a larger set of social dignity issues.
KS: Oh, no, that’s a big issue.
Absolutely. So I ran for student government and eventually became the student government president. But during that time I also ended up working for Maynard Jackson, who was the mayor of Atlanta, working in the office of youth services. There I really understood on a very granular level how important it was to have representation both in the legislative branch and the executive branch that cared about those issues.
I thought that I wanted to be mayor of Atlanta, and so my trajectory was really towards, how do I become mayor? But the more I thought about that work, the more I realized the issues that matter to me most really had to have a statewide imprimatur. You needed a governor who thought about these issues.
So probably about a little more than a decade ago I started thinking very specifically about how could I learn the skills necessary to help run the state of Georgia. Because I think if we can tackle the issue of poverty, the issue of lack of human dignity, the concerns of those who are left out and left behind, if you can do that on a state level, especially in the deep south, and particularly in Georgia given how large a state it is.
KS: And important economically.
Absolutely, it’s the eighth-largest state in the nation. That if we figure out how to crack the code there, you have then an exportable set of solutions that we can take around the country.
And particularly for me, it’s a personal issue. I’m doing very well now, but I still have family members in Mississippi and in Georgia who struggle and who don’t always know where the next solution is going to come from. Being the governor means the opportunity to be this intercessor between the federal government and local government, to make certain that people are getting the services they need and that we do have an effective private sector and effective nonprofit sector, and a responsive public sector that really delivers services.
HR: Talk a little bit about the progression in Georgia. Georgia’s never had a female governor.
HR: Never had an African-American governor.
HR: Actually, there’s never been a black woman as governor anywhere in the country.
HR: And so Georgia ought to be the first. Why not? But talk a little bit about the progression in Georgia. I know you spend a lot of time talking about why you think you can win, and we’ll talk a little bit about the political landscape. But the economy in Georgia’s really changed and I’m really interested in how that change has also changed the politics.
Georgia has always been a tipping point state for the deep south. Georgia was the state that when the rest of the south remained deeply mired in arguments about segregation, Georgia moved a little further. The issue of the economy, when Birmingham doubled down on trains, it was Georgia that decided that airplanes seemed like the thing of the future. Georgia has always been home to more economic capacity than other southern states.
I think, whether you’re looking at technology or looking at agriculture or the service industry, Georgia’s always been the tip of the spear. What that has meant in the last 20 years is that Georgia has become one of the fastest growing states in the nation. Between 2000 and 2010, 1.5 million people moved to Georgia. But the difference was this time with immigration, 80 percent of those people were people of color.
That has created a new opportunity in Georgia, where you have economic capacity growing at an incredibly fast clip, at the same time that you have this extraordinary diversity that is very new to the deep south, because this is a diversity of African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander and white.
What this means in terms of economic capacity for Georgia, and political capacity, is that you’re dealing with a very different demographic. Where if we use diversity as a strength it can be I believe the engine that really powers Georgia for the next 30 years. Because not only does the racial demography bring a different — no pun intended — complexion to our economy, it also brings new ideas and new experiences. Because you’ve got people moving into Georgia from other parts of the country, but you also have a growing class within the state that has ownership of what the state should look like.
HR: Is that just in the cities? I mean, Atlanta obviously everyone feels, in so many ways, feels that it’s in the modern age, essentially.
What most people don’t realize, the city of Atlanta itself is about half a million people. When people talk about Atlanta they mean metro Atlanta.
That’s about half the state. Right now, metro Atlanta has gone from being five counties to 20 counties. I think right now, unless you’re in Tennessee or Alabama, you’re in metro Atlanta for some people. Metro Atlanta has grown and it’s grown dramatically. But there are also opportunities in what we would call second-tier cities. Savannah, which has one of the fastest-growing ports in the nation. Columbus, which was the home to TSYS and the fin-tech industry. You’ve got Albany and Macon and Augusta, these different-tiered cities that also are seeing growth. Augusta actually is the home of Fort Gordon, so we’re one of the fastest-growing cyber communities in the nation.
All of these pieces can be leveraged together but we have to be thoughtful about how we do so, because at the same time that Georgia is seeing this burgeoning economy, we’re also mired in deep poverty. Where overall I think it’s 18 percent of the population, but if it’s African American it’s 24 percent, if you’re Latino it’s almost 25 percent of the community is in poverty. We have to navigate both the …
HR: In poverty and underemployed, as opposed to unemployed.
Exactly. Underemployment is extraordinarily problematic in Georgia.
KS: Explain the difference.
Unemployment, you don’t have a job. Underemployment, you have too many of them. Typically it means that you are working less than 40 hours, you’re usually working for the minimum wage or just above it. You’re subject to flex schedules, meaning that you have no control over when you go to work. You more than likely live in a daycare desert, so you don’t have childcare for your children, or if there is childcare it’s either low quality or too expensive.
HR: But you’re not counted in the unemployment statistics.
But you’re not counted.
HR: Which is critical for …
KS: Because you’re working.
Exactly, and the challenge for a lot of underemployed are that they are working poor, and in Georgia that’s exacerbated by the fact that for example you can’t access MedicAid, that we have strict limits on your ability to take advantage of any part of the social safety net. Those challenges pull down our economic capacity, because you have economic immobility, and in fact Atlanta unfortunately is one of the top cities for economic immobility. You are unlikely to move, to ever achieve more.
That lack of economic mobility, that lack of social mobility, if it is not truncated immediately, if we don’t start working towards increasing access to mobility, Georgia runs the very real risk of being stuck where we are and losing that capacity that we’ve always had to be the leading state in the south.
KS: Can you talk about the current political landscape, how you look at it in Georgia? Hilary’s talking about a demographic change and possibly economic change, the interest in attracting more economic growth, which I think Atlanta’s trying to get Amazon. Are they …
HR: I want to talk some about the Amazon issue, yeah, there’s a lot of Amazon solicitation.
KS: Yeah, but you want to bring in people, bring in new fresh companies that will add better employment.
KS: Can you talk about the current political landscape that might be hindering that?
Sure. One of the challenges we have is that we have sort of three Republican parties in the legislature.
KS: Three of them? Oh God.
They’re all called Republicans but they tend to factionalize, in that you have a Business Conservative party, that is the more traditional Republican.
KS: The old kind of Republican.
You have Economic Libertarians, who see the Chamber of Commerce and the business class as the enemy. And then, you have a religious Libertarian group, which is not necessarily endemic to the south but we perfect a lot of these things. That group sometimes is pushing those conversations, like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, those issues.
The problem for the Republican party has been that they have had to try and navigate all three factions at the same time. Which created opportunities for me as a leader and for Democrats under my leadership to be very successful. When the economic Libertarians didn’t like the fact that we needed to improve our transportation tax structure, it was Democrats that provided the votes to get it done. As a result we were actually able to invest in transit, we got the state to do transit dollars for the first time.
HR: That’s you working with the business Republicans.
That’s me, exactly, working with business Republicans. On environmental issues, I have been able to negotiate and work with economic Libertarians on environmental issues. Not by framing them as environmental issues but by framing them as property rights issues. So we’ve been able to push back on stream buffers, on some gas pipeline issues that were really fraught for the environment, but not by trying to convince them. With the religious liberty folks, we just agree to disagree. Although, I will say that I was able to block a tax bill in 2012, working with the Southern Baptists, because they would have eliminated some important deductions.
But what I would say writ large is that the composition of the state and our politics are not reflected in our legislature, but they are often reflected in the battles we have about the big issues. We recently unfortunately passed a gun bill that put guns on college campuses. That bill was roundly fought by people of all political stripes. The challenge is that you have to have a political leader who is comfortable continuing to push back both against her party and the other side. Governor Deal did that on some issues and he didn’t on other issues.
I think the political climate is ripe for a new type of leadership that I bring, which is someone willing to compromise. Because when I’m elected, I say hopefully, in 2018, there’s no chance that I will have a majority in the House or the Senate. But my leadership has always required that I be able to work in cooperation with others, building coalitions, building capacity. I think that’s true for anyone who’s running for office this time. We have to understand that the Georgia of 30 years ago does not exist, demographically, economically and in terms of the composition of what the business climate can sustain and needs. You’re going to have to have everyone at the table because there just aren’t enough of the old guard to keep it going.
KS: Talk about that idea. It sounds so healthy of you and an adult way to talk about politics, I’m not used to this right now.
KS: I want to talk about that in the next section on the national issues, but one of the things is bringing more fast-forward companies to states like that. These companies have any choices they want. Amazon is … Hilary, why don’t you talk about this idea of Amazon coming.
HR: It’s interesting …
KS: It’s like Willy Wonka.
HR: I’m curious about, as an elected official, we’ve seen the push over the last couple of weeks of people offering up their firstborn to get Amazon to come to the state. Georgia has had some of the most creative and well-reported sort of funny solicitations.
KS: What was the city changing the name?
HR: Stonecrest, Georgia, offered to change the name of their community to Amazon.
KS: That’s a good name. Amazon, Georgia, is a good name.
HR: Elect Jeff Bezos mayor of Amazon, Georgia. But then you have others like Cathy Woolard running for mayor of Atlanta, who says, “You know what, we’re not going to give away the store. We want a partnership, we want you to come, but we shouldn’t be in the business of giving away the store.” What do you do? How do you appeal to the tech industry? A lot of our listeners are in the tech world.
KS: And it’s where the jobs are.
HR: How do you appeal to the tech industry for why people should be investing in Georgia, getting the money out of Silicon Valley, moving to the next level? How are you going to …
KS: That is their thought, a lot of them want to talk about this now because politically they’ve been pushed that way to do so, but they definitely … You have Mark Zuckerberg visiting everybody in the world. They’re all on little visits to the real … I always think, real people, I’m like, “You’re real. Okay, but okay.” I don’t think they want to be thought of as real people versus you. How do you look at that, for example?
I think there are a combination of issues. One is that I am weary of tax incentives as a means of attracting business.
HR: It’s usually sports stadiums.
It’s not just that. Especially in the last 50 years there’s been this sort of race to sell your community to get … Foxconn in Wisconsin is an example. It is not a bad thing to try to attract business. It is not a problem to use tax incentives as a means to attract those businesses. But those tax incentives cannot cripple the very community they’re intended to help.
HR: Welcome to San Francisco.
Right, and so one of the challenges, especially in the deep south — and this is true in other parts of the country but I can speak to Georgia. When we say tax incentives what we usually mean are tax abatements. It means you’re not investing in property taxes. You’re not paying, the company that comes doesn’t pay property taxes. That means you’re not investing in schools, you’re not investing in infrastructure, you’re not investing in safety. That comes at a cost because you’re usually bringing new people to the community who are going to use all of these services. I think where the mayoral candidates who’ve pushed back against this stand, and where I am, is that you want incentives to actually incentivize growth but not cripple the underlying infrastructure of a community.
HR: So what are those incentives?
One incentive Georgia’s done extraordinarily well, the film credit. The film credit is not about having new movies made in Georgia by themselves. Georgia started it’s film credit around the time that Michigan, Florida, North Carolina and Toronto were really starting to sunset some of theirs. New York had one that has reduced its investment. The point behind that incentive was that it wanted to bring enough, put enough in the pipeline, have enough supply that you could actually grow and stabilize the supporting characters for films, so craft industries, construction, actually having filmmakers who could be there, creating studios.
You were growing an industry and an infrastructure for your economy that was going to have outside inputs in terms of the delivery, which is the films. But you are actually stabilizing, creating enough supply chain that you constantly had the ability to sustain those jobs. In the tech space, Georgia’s opportunity is to make sure that we are actually growing the kind of workers to sustain a tech economy. That means that if you are incentivizing a company to come by destabilizing the educational system, you are not going to have people who stay for very long. But it also means that we have to think about economic incentives, like the ability not only to attract a company but to help retain it by making certain that you have access to capital, not just … sometimes startup capital, sometimes it’s that seed stage, and sometimes it’s coming in as part of a B round.
The state of Georgia has not done that as effectively as I think it could. But it’s also recognizing that when we talk about tech there are variations on that theme. Georgia has perfect fintech, financial technology. We are the payment solutions corridor. I actually am the co-owner of a fintech company call NowAccount. We help move capital to small businesses using technology. But you also have agrotech, Georgia’s largest single industry is agriculture. There is a space for agrotech and biotech.
So I think the opportunity for Georgia, when we think about tax incentives and we think about tech as a source of capital raising and wealth creation for our communities, is to make sure that we integrate tech with what already exists and what works there.
HR: Right, and what works there, so they don’t just come in and …
HR: What you bring uniquely to the table, is what you’re saying.
KS: All right, we’re here with Stacey Abrams. She’s a candidate for governor of Georgia. We’re talking about Georgia itself but we’re going to move on a little bit to the whole national political scene. She formerly served in Georgia’s general assembly and was a House minority leader. And we’re here also with Hilary Rosen, who’s my co-host. She’s a political … Are you a political thing?
HR: I’m a political thing.
KS: You’re a creature of the swamp.
HR: Swamp creature.
KS: We’ll be right back.
We’re here with Stacey Abrams. She is a candidate for governor of Georgia. She has been a politician, a pretty longtime politician, in Georgia’s general assembly and was House minority leader. We’re talking about Georgia as a microcosm for the country and some of the politics that have been going on.
Now, you talked about three Republican parties in Georgia. You left out the Trumps, the Trumpists, I don’t know, whatever you call them. Let’s talk about the national political scenes, because you’ve been pretty vocal on that. So let’s talk a little bit about how you assess that, because being governor of Georgia is going to be … Governors are now playing a very important national role and not just within their state.
No, look, I think that some and each of those categories would count themselves as Trumpist. I think the challenge for the Republican party is no one knows what that means. I will leave it to them to figure out their taxonomy. I would say for me and for the national conversation, governor has become increasingly important the more impotent our congressional leadership becomes. The inability to pass legislation, the inability to determine that legislation should or should not be passed, is forcing responsibility on state leaders in ways that we have not seen in recent years.
The opportunity thought is that this could create those coalitions and those cooperative relationships that we haven’t seen in a very long time. I point to the fight over Graham-Cassidy.
HR: Which is the health care bill.
Health care bill. When you have the governor of Ohio standing shoulder to shoulder with the Democratic governor of California, that is not a normal thing to see in our politics today.
HR: Both opposing.
Both opposing, and were willing to work together to bring their folks, both from each side of the aisle, to oppose that bill, was incredibly important. I think the inflection point we’re facing in our country is that as the national narrative becomes more toxic, state leaders have an opportunity not only to lead but to send a signal for what people should expect of their leaders. We’ve gotten to this place where we are willing to expect little, and so I think one of the exciting things for me is that we can show what real leadership looks like.
I don’t want to be the governor of Democrats, I want to be the governor of Georgia. That means, though, that I began with Democratic philosophies, Democratic values, but it also means that I have to be open to and accepting of the fact that compromise is a necessary part of political leadership. No one gets everything they want, as the current president is discovering. Our national politics has to remember why it’s there, and that is to improve the lives of others. That sounds very halcyon and nostalgic but it’s real, it’s why we do this, or at least should be why.
HR: But isn’t it true, though, that you’ve got essentially national Progressives who have drawn such a bright line against cooperating with Republicans, cooperating with President Trump, even where they agree with him. Dianne Feinstein, a senator from California, got excoriated for simply wishing he becomes a good president. Not even for a specific proposal. So how do you, as a Progressive, reconcile this, what seems like a brighter and tougher stance by Progressives against working with Republicans.
KS: And the toxic environment, too, and how you assess that.
Part of the suspicion comes from a recent history of Democrats proclaiming values but not living them, and not even proclaiming them for the entirety of an election. They are very progressive until they win the primary, and then suddenly you can’t get them to take a picture with you. People who strongly believe in choice suddenly become wishy-washy on their language and don’t want to be seen in a photograph with anyone from Planned Parenthood. And so part of what you see in the reaction on the left is a worry that any degree of verbal compromise simply portends your intention to wholly and completely compromise your values.
We’ve seen this on the Republican side as well. I think the reality and responsibility is for candidates like myself to proclaim our progressive values consistently, but to talk about them in the context of how you get things done. The best example I can give is that my opponent in my primary in Georgia has taken me to task for working with Republicans to save a scholarship program that Democrats created. It’s a fantastic program, it was on the verge of bankruptcy, everyone agrees. She should have had me say no because anything Republicans produced … I can’t quite articulate what she thinks should have happened.
HR: You shouldn’t give the governor a victory.
You shouldn’t give the governor a victory. But the reality was, you had college students who were risking possibly losing everything, because their plan was to impose an SAT-ACT requirement that would have stripped money away from thousands of students. Instead, I worked with him to create a two-tiered program. They got what they want, we got slightly less but we still maintained 80 percent to 90 percent of the scholarship.
We also saved pre-K, because that was going to be slashed to half-day and to only part of the week. If you’ve never had to watch a parent try to leave work and know that they could lose their job for going to get their kid, you don’t understand why that is such a terrible idea.
HR: Let’s look at something around electoral politics in Georgia, though. The most nationally well-known issue of course in the last year was the race to fill secretary Price’s congressional seat. You have a Berniecrat, Jon Ossoff, running against Karen Handel. That race cost something like $35 million?
Two things. One …
HR: So …
HR: The amount of money I’m sure you’d love to have for your governor’s race went into that single losing congressional race for a Democrat. I’m wondering how you see, I’m sure this is the question you get everywhere when you leave Georgia, how do you see how the politics favor actually electing Democrats in these so-called more purply district, if you can’t win races like that?
I think there are two pieces. One is that Ossoff’s race was not a Democratic-leaning district. That was a district that Republicans had won by nearly 30 points a few months before.
HR: Not purple.
HR: But Hillary Clinton only lost it by two points.
She lost it by two points against Trump. The reality is the south has always been very good at voting one way locally and another way nationally. Which is why you had Democratic governors long after we’d abandoned voting Democrats for president. That narrative and that capacity didn’t change simply because Trump won the election.
No. 2, the demography of that district is very different. It was one of the wealthiest districts in the state. It is the most educated district, I believe, in the nation. It is 75 percent white. That is not the composition of Georgia. But what Jon did very well was that Jon for the first time in a long time actually invested in turning out voters who never hear from candidates. That’s why Jon had presidential-level turnout in a special election that would normally yield maybe 12 percent turnout.
HR: I’ve heard you say that there are … You know, in politics we have something we call the base, everybody’s got their base. And then what you have at the next level is the persuadables. And that everybody spends the majority of their time trying to persuade the persuadables and turning out their base. I’ve heard you say that you think that people of color are considered for Democrats the base, but you think really the reason that Hillary Clinton lost was because they weren’t the persuasion voters.
Exactly. When we talk about persuasion in politics, we typically refer to a persuasion of ideology. “I’m going to convince you to believe what I believe. “We have a different challenge with people of color in the Democratic party. We have to persuade Democrats that their behavior should change, that it’s worth voting. That’s where we fall down.
We don’t invest in persuading voters of colors, particularly black voters, that the action of voting is actually meaningful. Instead we spend most of our money and most of our time trying to convince people who’ve told us they do not agree with us fundamentally that, well, this time you do. Therefore we leave votes on the table. In Georgia, that’s more than a million votes, and we lose by 200,000.
KS: So they’re misallocating their funds.
They’re misallocating their funds, and that’s not to say that you don’t go on television. But you have to use television for what it’s intended to be, which is a reinforcement tool. It is not a conversion tool. You only convert people on the doors, you only persuade them in conversation. So Democrats have to believe, No. 1, that you should invest in field, No. 2 that you should invest in field in communities of color. Because the reality is, yes, most communities of color are Democratic.
HR: They just don’t vote.
They just don’t vote, because that’s a choice. I’m not going to take time off of my two jobs to go and vote for someone who does not sound like they actually will represent me. The way we try to persuade the other side is by essentially becoming milquetoast Democrats, or Republican light.
I think the opportunity is to invest early in field for communities of color and progressive whites, because we have to think about the fact that there are a lot of low-income single white women, there are a lot of millennials who do not look like they should be in an Abercrombie & Fitch ad. They all deserve the kind of time and attention we’re willing to give …
KS: To get them to actually vote.
To get them to actually vote.
HR: So you’re going to get to test that, obviously, in your campaign.
HR: I’m wondering what you think the implications are for national Democrats going forward. Does that mean we should be going more left, if you will, to sort of convince people that there’s an us versus them?
It’s not about going more left. It’s about going deeper. That’s the difference. We keep pretending that it’s an A-B conversation. What it really is, is A, A plus one, A plus two, it’s going deep and actually having conversations. But to use tech jargon, I am the A-B testing of the 2018 election.
KS: Many people think that, yeah.
I am running my campaign beginning with a conversation. I’m spending money in ways that for most campaigns, if this were a startup would say I’m spending money on the wrong things. I should be investing only in the tech and I’m investing in some other pieces of it.
We’re investing in talking to voters on the ground now. That means that I’m not going to have the splashy disclosure report in 2018, because I’m going to have spent a lot of money. But I believe fundamentally that we have seen what the other side looks like. We keep losing elections. My campaign will be a pure testing ground, a pure experiment for the messages that work, for the turnout models. But it doesn’t mean that I have to change how I talk about issues. I sound the same today as I did when I first started in politics. The difference is that I don’t plan to shift when I win the primary to win the general.
HR: There’s a lot of talk right now in Silicon Valley by some progressive leaders, like Reid Hoffman and others, about they can use some of their tech know-how to reinvent politics, to reinvent success in elections. Are you meeting with people like that and trying to build, use your race and the conversation as a model for something bigger?
KS: Because some of us are like, uh-uh.
Well, here’s the thing. We are already using Organizer, which is a fantastic tool for actually talking to voters and getting the average volunteer comfortable with field. Because one of your challenges is how do you talk to that many people quickly enough? You use volunteers, but if they have to have 15,000 pieces of paper and walk around with a clipboard, they’re not going to do it more than twice, unless they’re hardcore.
Organizer is a tool that helps make it faster. We’re using Hustle, it’s a text messaging app that’s helping us connect millennials in particular, but writ large communities together, using text. We are having conversations with other tech gurus, because we want to find a way to do this. I point people back to the ’08 campaign. We learned the wrong lesson, I think sometimes, from Obama’s campaign. He did not win because of technology. He did not win because of money. He won because he talked to people on the ground and organized them. He used technology as a tool to accomplish that. He used television as a tool to communicate that. He used media as a means and as a channel for reaching people. But he never forgot that the fundamental was talking to folks.
And so to your point, I believe my campaign will be able to prove it out because we’re going to elect a black women as a governor of the United States. But we’ve already got some pretty good metrics that are showing us, people who haven’t voted in years past are actually talking to our campaign. People who are registered but don’t turn out are volunteering. Those are some interesting metrics. We have to get them to scale and we can’t use them to extrapolate too much just yet. But it’s also why we had to start so early, if I waited until May of the primary to start this conversation, there is no path to victory. But by starting in June of 2017 and really launching our hardcore field in July, we were able to get good data that we can evaluate.
We are working with some great national firms to help us really understand what we’ve learned, and we have to have time to adapt. Any startup that’s pushing a new product, you’ve got to learn from your mistakes early and you’ve got to extract all of the information you can as quickly as possible so you can adapt and build new things.
HR: Using Hustle and Organizer is interesting. I’m curious about whether you think social media has become so poisoned and populated, or whether you think things like Facebook and Twitter are still really good viable organizing tools for you.
Absolutely. In Georgia, 80 percent of our potential voters are on Facebook. So it absolutely is a tool for communication. That’s why I wanted to talk about technology, media, social media, television, radio. I’ve got as of now 28,000 followers on Twitter, which — I don’t know 28,000 people. That is an amazing tool for me to use to push out messaging.
HR: Tell our listeners right now your Twitter handle.
My Twitter handle is @StaceyAbrams. I can be found on Facebook, Stacey Abrams. I can be found on Instagram and I believe I’m also on Snapchat. I’m 43, so I am getting into the weeds about what I actually am on, but I think if there’s a social media platform, I have a presence there.
KS: Yeah, all right. So how are you using those? How do you look at those? Because again, Hilary said, right now they’re all in trouble for things they did.
Absolutely. Facebook is a really good tool for us to push out our messaging. Twitter is snippets. You can do a good Twitter thread, but there’s only so much you can use it for. But it’s very helpful for pushing out information about policy and getting people to understand …
KS: And events.
And events. And getting people to understand in quick fashion why they care. Facebook gives you a little more space to talk about it. It’s great for pushing out events. It’s also fantastic for ads. We can drive your attention to issues that we want you to pay attention to. Instagram is a way to build enthusiasm, because people see where you are, they understand that you care about their communities. I’ve now exhausted my knowledge. I don’t know what Snapchat does.
KS: That’s okay, it’s not really good for campaigns. But when you think about that idea, are you also on the lookout, given the meddling in the election by — and the use of election tools by — the Trump campaign, very effective usage, some possibly problematic from other countries. Do you think about that a lot? Because here’s something that could happen in your own campaign. Are you on the lookout for that?
HR: Maybe not the Russians but at least the opponents can …
Look, there was a recent story about some of the fallacious information that’s been shared about me, and that’s going to happen. The issue is making certain that …
HR: I’m sorry, what did they say about you? You don’t want to …
No, it’s okay. There were questions about why I’m single and questions about my beliefs. It’s okay. Here’s the thing, politics has always been this way. It has been thus forever. It’s the way politics work. Where social media can be effective, or harmful, is the extent to which you let it go unanswered. I don’t know if either of you watch “South Park.”
HR: It was great.
It was wonderful. It’s real. The reality is, our mission, and certainly the mission of my campaign, is that we’re not going to get into this death spiral of negativism. I don’t intend to win by denigrating my opponent. I don’t intend to win by denying her humanity or in general by casting aspersions on whoever the Republican is. That’s the wrong use of social media. But you’ve got to be prepared for it and be ready to respond.
Once thing I think we are doing very effectively is getting our message out to such a degree and with such granularity, that when people hear it they don’t automatically believe it to be so. There are some conversations I don’t really care about, so you can question whether or not, why I don’t have a boyfriend, I’m just really bad at dating. Would love to find the guy, but he has not presented himself and as an introvert, I’ve been inside my house.
My point is, that that piece is irrelevant to me. What’s relevant to me is are you pushing out bad information about my policies? Are you pushing out bad information about my politics? Or worse, are you demeaning the people who should be invested? Those are the things that we should be talking about, and those are the ways you should use social media.
KS: We’re here with Stacey Abrams and I’m joined by my co-host Hilary Rosen, who is a political strategist and a CNN analyst who’s here for the month of November. We’re talking with political guests and Stacey, who is running for governor of Georgia, is our one this week.
Stacey, we just started talking about how campaigns use, how your campaign is using it, how you push off social media issues and things like that. I want to talk about where things are going, because if you win the governorship you’ve got to be thinking about a lot of big issues around economic development, obviously. Some of the topics that I think are going to start to really rise to the forefront — which I’m interested in, very interested in — are automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, self-driving, education and training, infrastructure.
A lot of these things have to do with the creation of jobs, and a lot of them have to do with the destruction of jobs, or jobs as they stand today. One of my premises is that — and you can tell me if I’m wrong — is that there’s a top group of people in this country, 10 percent or whatever, who love the future, embrace it, and the top, top 1 percent is doing rather well from it, billionaires. They become billionaires.
There’s a group in the bottom that are utterly lost, they’re not part of the discussion, they’re not part of the technology. They may have a cellphone but the future’s not a good thing for them and the future’s not built for them in any way. Then there’s a group, most people are in the middle, from the working class to the, not the upper-middle class but in that range. Which, they love technology in a lot of ways. They see it’s the future, and yet they’re frightened of it. All these technologies that are coming are quite serious and it’s another major shift in how we do work.
How do you think of those things? Do you think of them at all? Because I see our federal government not at all understanding what’s coming down the pike, so I think it is up to governors to really understand it.
Absolutely. I think in a state like Georgia, where we have every one of those striations, it’s incredibly important. Only 60 percent of Georgians in rural Georgia have access to the internet. Yeah, 60 percent.
KS: Whoa, that’s low.
In the metro Atlanta area, in the urban areas, it’s 100 percent, but they can’t afford it. So we have to start with some basic fundamentals. One is that automation is coming. Technology is coming. The future is here. Once you understand that, the question is what role and responsibility does government have? To be intercessor, or to be a mitigator?
Intercessor is to stop something from happening, or to divert it. Mitigator is to say, “Okay, it’s coming, so how do we make sure we’re ready for it when it gets here?” I think Georgia is not yet as engaged as it should be because we still have to get caught up with the 20th century when it comes to internet access and broadband. But there are other ways where we are thinking …
HR: You can jump over it, so you know …
I think that the challenge is that, again if you look at the demography of Georgia and the economic demography in particular, again you’ve got a quarter of your population that is of color, is at or below the poverty line. That means that they’re in that lowest band you’re talking about. Probably we’re not a high-wealth state. You do have some billionaires. I don’t know many of them, but they’re there.
But Georgia built its economy on agriculture. There’s automation happening there, so what do you do? How do make certain that families that have been isolated from technology, and isolated from good education, are getting it? Part of that means that as the governor I have to think about education.
KS: Right, exactly.
You have to think about the fact that you should be able to learn robotics no matter where you go to school. I’m working with …
HR: And that farms are more automated.
HR: And equipment is automated and the like.
Exactly, that STEAM education is not for just those kids who are going to be gear heads. STEAM education is for everyone. So making certain that no matter which school district you’re in, no matter which school you’re in, that you have full education and full opportunity. It’s making sure that we are providing retraining opportunities, that’s why our technical colleges are so critical. Advanced manufacturing … Community colleges in some states, we call them technical colleges in Georgia.
Advanced manufacturing skills can be learned, but they can’t be learned two months after you lost your job. So we need to be having this conversations now about what kind of retraining and educational opportunities are we offering to folks. How are we working with the companies that are going to move into automation to make sure that they are partner in the kind of training, so that instead of what we saw during the decline of manufacturing in America, when jobs started leaving, it was sort of a surprise to everyone.
You can anticipate this. We know what’s coming, so let’s have a conversation now with businesses about who are you retraining in your offices? Who are you retraining in your companies to make sure that they are still viable employees? For those that you don’t think you’re going to need, what’s your responsibility in working with government to make sure that they’re being given a longer lead time in figuring out what happens next?
KS: And that they get something from it.
HR: So when you think about nationally, President Trump and the Republicans are not really having this conversation, as Kara said.
KS: Not at all.
HR: They’re not having the conversation.
KS: I don’t think they know how to turn the computer on.
HR: How do you think Democrats are doing in putting ideas on the table and having a conversation that’s relevant for people and presenting a real alternative to what the Republicans are doing?
I think there are some Democrats who are talking about it. I think we have … It’s being able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We’re so focused right now on the mere survival of America that we’re not necessarily having the full conversations about what the next iteration of economic waves look like.
HR: Whose fault is that?
I would say that we have a very dysfunctional presidency and we have an impotent congressional structure that right now doesn’t seem to be able to think about anything.
KS: It’s super entertaining in the worst of ways.
HR: Oh my God.
KS: It is. It’s riveting, is what it is.
Yeah, it is.
HR: On both sides.
Yeah. I would say that for Democrats — and it’s one thing I talk about in my campaign — Democrats spend so much time fighting for survival we forget to think about success. We don’t talk about what happens after you survived, because we’re trying to preserve what we have. We’re not always, I think, doing enough to talk about what’s next. I do think Democrats are at fault because we have to be anticipating. Part of that’s believing we’re going to win again. I think that can be part of our impetus.
I will say, Jayne Kim, who is a former city council member in San Francisco, she may still be on the city council. Jayne is talking about automation. What does that mean? Because she’s at the heart of it. So she’s having conversations with colleagues and with folks around the country about how do we adjust for that? That’s smart and necessary.
KS: I like Jayne, but she’s a little screamy about tech. I’m like, “Calm down, wait a minute.” She’s doing a little fear mongering.
HR: Do you think national Democratic leaders are spending enough time with people like you, trying to say, “What would be working locally? What should we be doing?” Is there enough coordination for new ideas?
Not yet. I will say this, I think for Jayne and others, the people who are thinking about it are thinking about it so deeply, there’s not a lot of space for other conversations. So the responsibility of folks like me, it’s to seek out those conversations. Which is why I know what Jayne is doing, and I’ve spent time looking at futurist narratives to understand what this means, not only here but what’s happening in other countries. How are they adapting?
It’s the responsibility of good politicians and good public servants to educate yourself about what’s out there. It’s the responsibility of those who do this work to make sure that you share it, that it’s not this echo chamber of conversation. It’s the responsibility of our national leadership to be able to think about what this means, because we are never going to bring back all the jobs we used to have. It will never happen. Therefore we have to not only prepare for the 21s century and where we are today, but we have to prepare for the second half of the 21st century and where we want to be then. We’re not doing that sufficiently.
HR: So, it’s put-you-on-the-spot time. What national Democrats do you think get this?
I’ve heard Cory Booker say interesting things about this. I think that Ro Khanna has had conversations about this. I think Elizabeth Warren, and the way she is pushing the narrative about how we invest, is anticipating that we’ve got to have an economic system that can sustain the transitions that are happening.
I have not seen this become a central conversation for anyone yet. Again, I think part of it is that we’re trying to survive so we haven’t really thought about, how do we fight on a new front? I think that’s one of the places where I want to enter the conversation, because this is a conversation that’s going to have to happen on a state-by-state level. Because what’s going to happen in Georgia is not what South Dakota’s facing. So, for Heidi Heitkamp, she has a different set of issues she’s got to be thinking about. It’s not what’s happening in California, because California is like a whole new world.
We have to each own our responsibility for how we take these national conversations and localize them. But none of us have the luxury of waiting until it happens to start thinking about it.
KS: So are you surprised by, I think much of the Democratic party feels like someone who’s just on the sidelines, it’s like just anti-Trump, and that’s not for anything. It feels like that. It feels like most, much of the Republican party feels like that too, but it’s all in … I just spent the morning with Senator Jeff Flake and Bob Corker.
How do you then do that? How do you get Democrats … because it would seem like a very advantageous time to start to talk about what you mean, or what you stand for, rather than against something.
Being for something doesn’t mean you can’t also be against. Again, this is the whole walking and chewing gum at the same time. We’ve got to be against Trump because he is against us. He is against our families, he’s against our communities. He has no positive programming that I can see that would actually benefit the people for whom I stand, and that is irrespective of race, gender …
HR: And many of whom voted for him.
Yes. Donald Trump is an apostasy of actual progress. Put that aside. So we have to be resistant to that, because otherwise we will start to normalize and internalize his narrative, and will start to see even more than we do today immigrants as specters against whom we have to fight and we will think that being transgender means the end of the world. So we can’t relent on the fight.
But we at the same time have to prepare for the fact that he’s not going to be there forever. That’s why I’m running the campaign I’m running, because I believe Democrats have to figure out a different way to win. We lost this last election, and there are important inputs for us to understand why we lost.
But the reality is, they’re just going to get trickier the next time. No one’s going to ever make it easy to win, so we have to think about what are the things that we own, what’s in our arsenal, how do we navigate? That’s the place where I worry about our party because I think we spend so much time in retrospection that we don’t actually learn lessons.
KS: Yeah, there are a bunch of agonizers, for sure. What are you worried about for your election? Besides people saying weird things about you on social media. That goes and comes and goes, sometimes it’s super effective, often if it’s true it’s effective. But what is the thing that you’re worried about as a candidate, is not doing what? What do you think is your vulnerability?
My vulnerability is that, it’s a viability argument. When no one has done what you want to do, it’s hard for people to see that it can be done. As a black woman running to be … I picked the deep south, so it’s convincing people Georgia is a winnable state, and then convincing people that a black woman can win Georgia. The numbers say I’m right on both counts. But viability is a hard thing to explain to people.
It’s also hard to explain the urgency of this, because most people just kind of relegate the south to the south. Georgia is the eighth-largest state. We’re one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, one of the largest economies in the country. You can’t get to America without coming through Atlanta. So stabilizing and growing Georgia is essential to America, and I need people to understand the urgency of the governor’s race there.
My vulnerability is that I’m worried that I am not spending enough time talking to enough people outside of the campaign trail. I spent a lot of time talking to average citizens, but this is a race that is won by talking to elites, by talking to the privileged, as well as talking to everyone. My responsibility is to have those broad conversations and those narrow conversations at the same time. I’m afraid this answer sounds like the, “What’s your weakness?” “I care too much.” That’s not what I mean. I hate people who do that.
KS: I don’t care at all. Give me the power I need to change things.
Exactly. So for me, it is making sure that I’m talking to as many people as possible and that they understand what I’m saying, that I am not running to be the black governor. I’m not running to be the Democratic governor. I’m running to build a coalition of voters who will vote for me because they believe in the principles I hold to be true, but to govern for everyone, whether they agreed with me or not.
As a person of color, it is a vulnerability that everything I say for some people gets filtered through my race. They cannot hear anything else I say if I mention race. I’m going to talk about race because race is an inherent part of who I am, who we are as Americans, and it does dictate a lot of our policies. But that doesn’t mean that I am so reductive as to be unable to have broader conversations.
HR: Do you feel like people push you into a conversation about race just because we’re in such a divided country and it was such a powerful conversation during the presidential election?
I think people are confounded by how to grapple with our changing diversity, and they are desperate for someone who can give them a short answer to a long, complicated problem. When I speak I do not speak just as myself, I speak as every black person they’ve never met, I speak on behalf of every person of color that they may like or dislike. I don’t have the luxury of not speaking because I happen to be the only one, and so I have the responsibility to be a voice. But that also comes with the very problematic responsibility of being the voice the people hear.
So if I say something wrong it’s attributed to everyone. But also I’m drawn into conversations that don’t reflect the fact that I’m the most qualified person running for office. I have a really good record. I have been an executive, I’ve been a political leader, I’ve been a civic leader. I’ve gotten good stuff done, and sometimes I am only the black candidate. So anyone else who gets something done, they get credit for that.
KS: Is that the same thing with gender? With gender obviously there’s been so many conversations, like right now, every time I open my thing there’s another sexual harassment lawsuit going on.
The challenge with gender, my opponent in the primary is a woman so the gender piece plays a little less in that, except to the extent that …
HR: Except who’s a better woman.
KS: I’m a better woman.
Exactly, and that there are some incredibly banal conversations held about us, where the men running on the Republican side are treated as individuals fully capable of conversations and …
HR: You guys are just the women.
We’re women, and we have the same first name, so we’re interchange … well, not interchangeable, but we certainly are not held always …
HR: You know, there’s a lot of press about Black Stacey and White Stacey.
HR: Yeah, Black Stacey and White Stacey
Yes. My opponent is Stacey as well. But that’s my point, it is incredibly reductive and we don’t have a lot of conversations about …
HR: It’s interesting, as Black Stacey …
Yes, I am Black Stacey.
HR: You are, and delightedly so, you are seen as a spokesperson for all African Americans.
HR: Hard to imagine that White Stacey is seen as a spokesperson for all white people. Doesn’t happen that way.
KS: But when she gets to the general election she might be.
HR: So it’s kind of the extra burden of leadership, in a way.
KS: Yeah, but when she gets to the general she’ll be the spokesperson for women. You know what I mean? Or you will be, whichever one of you has to also take on that. I’ve always noticed that standards only apply when they’re talking about people of color or women, always.
I always talk about that idea is when they have all these all-male boards and then you say, “Why don’t you have a more diverse board?” They’re like, “We have standards.” I’m like, “You didn’t when you selected those terrible men who are running blank company.” But that’s the only time they bring up the word, which is fascinating to me.
But again, I will ask, sort of as, do you feel like there is an important gender discussion to be going on? Is that a small thing for you to be the first woman governor?
Absolutely. I think …
KS: Same thing with Hillary Clinton, if she had won it would have been a big deal.
Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s important to note there’s a complicating factor. There’s a race conversation, there’s a gender conversation, and then there’s a black woman conversation. Because black women have a completely separate set of issues that we’ve got to deal with, too. It’s true for a lot of women of color, but it’s most acute for black woman. I had to have a conversation with a reporter once, because he called me “angry” in his story.
HR: Not “hostile”? I get “hostile” a lot. What do you get?
See, what I told him, he could use “outraged,” he could use anything else, but you don’t get to call me “angry.”
HR: I get “charming.”
Of course you do. But there’s language that we use for women, there’s specific language that you cannot use for black women. We have our own lexicon of things that you cannot say or that we cannot do.
HR: Or ways that you cannot behave.
KS: You don’t get to have the same umbrage.
HR: … as other people do.
But to the larger question, yes, being women, I think Stacey Evans is doing an important job too by running. I intend to win, but I think either of us will face a phalanx of issues and gendered conversations. But I want to make sure what people think about is that it’s different running as a white woman than running as a black woman. That’s not right. It’s not easy, but it’s also not a reason not to do it. So one of the conversations I like to have is that regardless of what happens, we’re changing the face of what leadership looks like in Georgia, and that’s an important piece.
HR: It seems clear that regardless of what happens you’re going to be a voice in the Democratic party for many, many years to come.
As long as people will listen, and sometimes when they don’t.
KS: So when you think about the Democratic party going forward, and all parties — because it feels like the Republican party is just fracturing beyond belief, even though they’re in power. Like, completely fractured. Do you imagine a complete changing of the party system? I know everyone talks about this but it kind of feels a little, maybe not, maybe it’s happened before.
Parties are shorthand for the principles we hold to be true. The reason America’s really only ever sustained two parties is that we tend to be very binary in how we talk about who we are. Now, within that we will fight about who owns what part of the, our half of the binary. But that’s just the way we are.
I think that parties always recast what they believe and evolve in their basic premises, but do I believe that we’re suddenly going to have a parliamentary style system with 115 parties? No. I think that we will remain by and large a two-party system where the two parties have no idea who’s there.
HR: Do you think that part of the cynicism of the people around this is connected to the fact that people don’t believe that the parties represent them? I was interested in a recent Essence Magazine poll. African American women have traditionally been the most loyal Democrats ever. I think Hillary Clinton got 95 percent of African American women votes, the highest of any population.
KS: I think that was in …
HR: But there was a recent poll that said that African American women are down to 74 percent of support for the Democratic party, from something like 86 percent just a year ago. That increasingly people are feeling like the party’s not speaking to them. It’s not that they’re moving to Republicans.
HR: And so to Kara’s point, do you have to have an alternative system, or is it just that we’re not speaking in a way that people need to hear?
It’s not that we need a different system.
HR: Or not doing anything that they care about?
We need to do things they care about, that’s how you engender loyalty, that’s how you engender engagement. You actually speak a language that reflects their needs, and you do something. Democrats have not always done the things we say we’re going to do, in part because we never win, because we don’t bother talking to everyone. My point is that we have to truly be the big-tent party we’ve always said we were.
But that means under the tent you’re going to have the Bernie folks, and you’re going to have the Hillary folks, and you’re going to have the Obama folks, and you’re going to have the none-of-the-above folks. That’s okay. My campaign actually is comprised of folks from every faction of the Democratic universe, intentionally. Because I cannot win this without building a coalition. Democrats cannot win without coalition building. But what we have to do is value every member of the coalition, and that’s what black women are responding to. That we do not always feel valued because we are not part of the conversation in leadership. We’re not part of the investment. We’re not part of the …
HR: You’re taken advantage of as the base.
Exactly, because it’s not a base if you can’t count on it.
KS: As opposed to the Trump base, it’s not an angry, raging base.
KS: It’s just, “Ugh.”
It’s very pragmatic.
KS: And also like, “I’m just not going …”
HR: Georgia has a significant young population.
HR: Which is somewhat unique. So I find it interesting that among 18- to 21-year-olds who register to vote for the first time, 35 percent of them register as Independents. That means they’re up for grabs.
I wouldn’t say they’re up for grabs. I think it reflects the fact that they don’t know what the parties mean.
KS: That’s right.
Their political behavior tends to signal that they’re mostly Democrats, but they’re not going to call themselves something that doesn’t reflect who they are and doesn’t reflect their values. Which is why it is so critical for Democratic candidates who have progressive values to talk about those values consistently, to never sway from those values.
Which is not the same as, “I can’t work with you.” It simply means you know where I’m starting out. Here are the principles I stand on. Here’s how I’m going to filter information. Here’s the goal I have for you. A good political leader knows how to get everyone to go there with him or her, and a great political leader can get everyone to go there and makes them all think it was their idea before they got there.
KS: And on that note, Stacey, you’re so happy. That was the most pleasant political conversation I’ve had.
HR: That is pretty amazing.
KS: I didn’t have to listen to some dumb Trump thing, thank God.
HR: The fact that you’re a southern Democrat, too, is fascinating.
KS: I know. Stacey, good luck.
KS: It was great talking to you. Thanks for coming on the show and thank you Hilary again for bracing political discussion. We’ll have another one next week.