On April 8, Sen. Bernie Sanders admitted what had been clear for some time — he has no real path forward to winning the Democratic presidential nomination. Sanders ended his campaign, effectively handing former Vice President Joe Biden the nomination. This also reignited speculation on whom Biden will choose to be his running mate. One name that has come up time and again is sure to be familiar to Georgians — former 2018 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Though I’m sure many Georgia voters would be excited to see a Biden-Abrams ticket, Abrams would be a bad choice for vice president. Biden should choose someone else.
Look, I’d be thrilled if a Georgian were in the White House, and I’m not arguing against Abrams on policy grounds. My biggest concern with picking Abrams is her lack of experience.
Although she’s a nationally-known figure, Abrams' highest elected office is Georgia state House member. She served in the state House from 2007 to 2017 and was the state House minority leader from 2011 to 2017. She's done good work for Georgia, but she doesn’t have the executive or national experience she would need to lead.
Admittedly, Abrams’ lack of experience probably wouldn’t hurt a Biden-Abrams ticket electorally. Americans often don’t care too much about candidates' experience when voting for presidential tickets. President Donald Trump famously had never been elected to any office and had no military experience before running for the country’s highest office in 2016. Former President Barack Obama had been a senator for less than four years before he won the 2008 presidential election.
In some ways, having experience might even be a barrier to winning. A long political history leaves a lot of potential ammunition for rival campaigns to find.
But knowing the ins and outs of the systems and issues is critical to effective governing. The presidency is too big and complicated for one person to manage, so the vice president must be ready to lead on day one. Despite his inexperience, Obama recognized this fact. According to The New York Times, Obama chose Biden as a running mate in 2008 in part to provide the experience the Obama administration would need.
Experience is especially important now. As the country continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we need leaders with a deep understanding of the government. If Abrams is forced to serve as president, would she be ready to handle another wave of the novel coronavirus? What if there’s an international dispute? Would she be able to navigate a diplomacy crisis without any foreign policy background?
She might excel in both of those scenarios. But we shouldn’t take risks with the fate of the country.
Abrams is a talented politician, and she has a bright future. Her near-win in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election proved that. However, for the time being, she should continue working in Georgia politics. Her time may come, but it’s not now.
CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article said that Abrams' highest elected office was to the Georgia state House, but it did not mention that she was also the state House minority leader. This has since been added. The Red & Black regrets this error.