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The “Unvoted” becomes the focus for Stacey Abrams

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“In the last gubernatorial election, there were 1.5 million eligible people of color who didn’t cast ballots. It’s that pool of voters that Abrams is focused on to close the gap […] Equally important as which voters to target is the question of how to attract that support. What Abrams is proving is that the way to increase voter turnout is by inspiring progressives, not coddling moderates and conservatives.”

– Steve Phillips, The Revolutionary Implications of Stacey Abrams’s Victory (The Nation)

This week, Stacey Abrams clinched the Democratic party nomination to run for Governor of the State of Georgia.  If she wins, she will become “the first woman elected governor of Georgia, the first African American elected governor of Georgia, and the first black woman to govern any state in the United States of America.” (Vox)

With the conclusion that an appeal to white voters would bring limited results, Abrams’ strategy has been to motivate the people of color who make up 47% of the population of Georgia, and particularly those who were not motivated in the past (whom PASTORIA will call the “unvoted”), to vote for and support her progressive platform (ie. anti-Confederate monuments, pro-choice, pro-gun control, etc.).

The results have been promising and our guess on why is as follows:

  • Why would anyone who refused to vote in the last election vote for anyone else who is in the middle on every issue?  It would probably take a significant difference compared to the status quo to get out the vote.
  • Through her consistently progressive platform, she is unifying the micro-groups who disagree with each other on a lot of things into a larger coalition of them based along progressive lines.  Remember, Georgia is a conservative state and “person of color” does not equate to “progressive politics.”  What she needed to do was to appeal to ALL of the progressive stances, not just some.

Why is this so significant for ministry?

Well, PASTORIA often observes how ministries overlook the fact that, in order to successfully engage a segment of the population that is not interested in “church,” what is offered by the ministry must be significantly different (and/or better), not compared to other ministries but, compared to whatever alternative source of life inspiration and wisdom that they patron.  In other words, it will ultimately matter little that a certain church is “better” than another church.  What will matter is if it is better than going hiking or using a mindfulness app or watching TED videos or staying home asleep after a wild night.

In addition, PASTORIA often observes ministries that react to the fact that the “done’s and none’s” do not agree with conservative social views or evangelical behavior by either a) being a super duper harmless, “we would never force you to do anything” ministry where nothing but “thinking” happens or b) espousing progressive social views or no politics at all.  Both are mistakes in that those same “done’s and none’s” participate all the time in organizations or activities with which they disagree politically and behaviorally – why is that?

So, here’s PASTORIA’s bottom-line question for ministry:

In what ways is your ministry sure that it is “better” than the alternative for people who prefer the alternative?