If Biden doesn’t pick Stacey Abrams, he can kiss Black folks goodbye
OPINION: Former deputy campaign manager, Marcus Ferrell, makes the case as to why the Georgia political star is the best and only choice for vice president
We might be watching a disaster in slow motion. A white liberal politician who almost certainly secured the Democratic nomination — thanks to Black voters — is considering another white moderate as a running mate.
The sheer fact that this is even an idea is not only disrespectful to Black Americans, but it is also a strategic mistake of epic proportions considering there is an available vice presidential candidate who can fill in the obvious gaps for the presumptive nominee.
That woman’s name is Stacey Abrams.
I’ll admit that I’m biased. I served a short stint as the Georgia gubernatorial candidate’s deputy campaign manager, and she endorsed my campaign for the statehouse. She also built a strong coalition of white, Black, progressive, and moderate Democrats in her stolen bid for the governorship in 2018.
There are practical reasons why Abrams is the only choice Biden should be looking at right now.
Contrary to some beliefs, Biden might not be ready for a one-on-one against Donald Trump. He’s an old white man who opposes cannabis legalization and formerly opposed busing. That’s not going to motivate young Black voters to come to his side. He still has not apologized for the crime bill, meanwhile, Trump, obviously understanding the need to appeal to voters of color, ran criminal justice reform commercials during the Superbowl.
Recently polled Bernie Sanders supporters said that they would support Biden in the general election, but hell, they didn’t exactly show up in droves for Bernie in the primary. Biden has always had an enthusiasm gap. Trump is taking notes from his progressive critics and might even use those on the left as political ammunition against Biden.
The answer to Biden’s uphill battle is not another white moderate on the ticket. The answer is Abrams.
Just five years ago, not many people outside of Georgia knew who Abrams was. In that short time, she has become the rightful governor of Georgia (I don’t care what anyone says, she won that stolen election) and is presently the poster child for voting rights in America.
Abrams has amplified her national profile by being an astute political strategist while wielding the justice sword for voting equity in America. That is a pretty strong comeback after Trump’s 2016 upset victory, which was arguably driven by a backlash to America’s first Black president and an overall boring Democratic ticket that promised more of nothing.
Will Black voters stand in the rain, wait in long lines or brave COVID-19 for Biden and another white moderate? No.
Abrams not only has the charisma to bring Black voters to the polls but also can inspire them enough to wait in lines for hours in the most adverse voting environments, evidenced by the turnout in majority-Black districts for her 2018 race.
Trump will cheat to win. He’s a sitting president who won’t blink an eye at cheating voters and will use every excuse in the book to stop Americans from accessing their right to vote. Abrams and her team were responsible for registering hundreds of thousands of voters in a state that ultimately purged more than 300,000 names from its voter rolls just before her election.
Biden should be careful not to let his white consultants gaslight him into believing that a white moderate from any state will deliver him the presidency. Unless he wants to repeat the same mistake that Hillary Clinton made in 2016 by nominating a white Spanish speaker who didn’t motivate BLPOC to galvanize around her campaign (I like to call it the Tim Kain effect).
This time around, you need an experienced Black woman who has the ability to lead, the competence to administrate, and the skill set to be one of the first Black people to win an election in the deep south.
If the qualifications for VP is winning a governor or Senate seat, there are only 2 Black women who have accomplished that in the 241 years of American politics, one of them being Kamala Harris. That number would be three if you also counted Abrams’ unofficial win for governor.
Harris is an accomplished senator in her own right. She earned her space in the conversation and famously dressed down Biden over his busing record during a primary debate. She was also elected from a consistently Blue state that most would find progressive in its ideology.
Sen. Harris will also be a suitable choice because unlike other Democrats, I believe she could take the inevitable heat off Biden’s debate performances. My sole concern about Harris is her appeal in southern states, especially because of how her campaign performed in South Carolina.
I wouldn’t be disappointed in a Harris choice; I just believe Stacey Abrams, through her organization, Fair Fight, has already built a political machine that is ready on day one to take on the draconian voter suppression tactics that will surely come leading into November.
Abrams was my presidential pick had she decided to run herself, and considering the media attention some candidates received earlier on the campaign trail only to lose their state-wide elections (Looking at you, Beto), she might have been the one to pick Biden as her running mate.
We can’t ignore the classic issues of race and gender in America, built to elevate white mediocre candidates and knock Black candidates down a peg. It’s important to talk about these perceptions.
Abrams served as the minority leader of the Georgia State House fighting against the draconian GOP legislative agenda, registered hundreds of thousands of Black and Brown voters with the New Georgia Project, started a multimillion-dollar small business called NOWaccount, and wrote novels at the same damn time.
Trump bought up racist ads to falsely accuse young Black and Brown boys known as the Central Park Five of murder; lost about a Billion dollars (according to his tax refunds); and bankrupted his daddy’s Business. Biden wrote the now controversial crime bill, bragged about working with segregationists, and was on the wrong side of the busing issue.
If this is the measuring stick for what qualified means, Stacey is well beyond that.
Black voters, at least locally, have already shown that they’re willing to come out in huge numbers to support Abrams. The opportunity to galvanize a wider swath of voters and expand the current electorate does not lay in the white consultant thought process of ‘white working-class’ voters. Biden needs to fire said consultant and elevate the voices who tell you what you need to hear: Stacey Abrams is your only choice.
He won’t secure the coveted Black vote without her.
Marcus Ferrell is a political consultant who served as National Black Outreach Director for Bernie Sanders 2016, Deputy Campaign Manager for Stacey Abrams and senior advisor for Swing Left. He is currently ducted off in Atlanta avoiding the ‘Rona and missing his cigar bars. @Marcus4America on Twitter & Instagram.