“The fundamental power of democracy lies in the right to vote, and if you protect that right, you create possibilities for everything else.” – Stacey Abrams
Directed by: Lisa Cortes and Liz Garbus
Produced by: Stacey Abrams, Liz Garbus, Lisa Cortés, Dan Cogan
Featuring: Stacey Abrams, Desmond Meade, Andrew Young, Eric Holder
Amazon Original streaming now on Amazon Prime
All in: The Fight for Democracy is a jaw-dropping exposé of what the film calls “the weaponization of voter suppression.” Following the fight for the right of those who were not white male landowners to vote, it begins with the earliest amendments to free enslaved Blacks and then hand Black males the right to vote.
The film shows how violent a fight it has been starting with the institution of discriminatory policies, including poll taxes, literacy tests, and terroristic Jim Crow practices that rose in response to Black men gaining voting rights in the 15th Amendment. It next tackles the nearly 100-year Women’s Suffrage Movement leading to the 19th Amendment, and Martin Luther King’s voting work in the South in the 50s and 60s.
And it also reveals how even now, the suppression of the right to vote continues to be one of the craftiest strategies to keep the vote in the hands of those with a vested interest in maintaining their control of the country’s governance and finances – mainly, white men.
Calling it “a playbook as old as the nation” All in proves how rabid voter suppression in the United States has remained in place to this very day – and had a hand in changing the outcome of the 2016 gubernatorial race in Georgia.
A historic race between Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, who would have been, if elected, the first Black woman governor in the United States – and white, male, Republican candidate Bryan Kemp, the 2018 gubernatorial race in Georgia was a perfect example of the hijacking of our democracy.
Along the way, the documentary traces the rise of Stacey Abrams from student activist, to a lawyer, to becoming one of the most vocal, visible, and determined voices against voter suppression. Beginning with her childhood years in Wisconsin, Mississippi, and Georgia, it reveals her parents’ influence on her and the other five siblings as they determined to show their children the power of the vote, even while raising a large family with limited means.
As the documentary unfolds, it recalls the controversy over the Georgia election’s tens of thousands of missing absentee votes, with both candidates in a deadlock on election night. It covers the shady and probably illegal tactics taken by Kemp’s office – who was Georgia’s secretary of state and, therefore, in charge of elections and voter registration during the election, a clear conflict of interest in his choice to run for governor.
It raises questions about Kemp’s office’s legality canceling nearly 700,000 cancellations in 2017, many of whom were not notified that they had been purged.
Kemp’s direct appeal to a particular segment of Georgia’s population was made clear, when, in a commercial for his campaign is shared, he stated:
“I’m Brian Kemp. I’m so conservative, I blow up government spending. I own guns, and no one’s taking ’em away. My chainsaw’s ready to rip up some regulation. I got a big truck, just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take ’em home myself. Yep, I just said that. I’m Brian Kemp. If you want a politically incorrect conservative, that’s me.”
At the end of election night, the segment of the Georgian population he appealed to would ultimately give him a narrow enough margin to declare — with tens of thousands of ballots still uncounted by the morning after the election – that he had managed a “clear and convincing victory at the ballot box.”
Abrams stepped but of the race but never conceded, and in her speech, pointedly noted:
“I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election. But to watch an elected official who claims to represent the people in the state boldly pin his hopes for election on the repression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling. So, let’s be clear, this is not a speech of concession — because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper…as a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that.”
All in is a powerful case for every American to become a vocal and committed advocate and protector of the right to vote. It makes the point that if we are not all in this fight, as a nation, we will remain trapped by the interests of the financially powerful, politically conservative, and racially similar to those who contemptuously reserved that right to themselves in the earliest days of this republic.