Column: Biden should select Stacey Abrams as his running mate

Column: Biden should select Stacey Abrams as his running mate
Joe Biden has an opportunity coming toward him, and her name is Stacey Abrams, Hank Sanders writes. (Source: WTVM)

Dear Vice President Biden:

I write because the moment is critical and urgent. I write because the opportunity will soon pass. My dear, departed mother said to me on many occasions, “Son, opportunity is like a man with long hair in front who is completely bald in the back. When opportunity is coming toward you, you can grab a good hold because the hair is long. However, when opportunity passes you, you can grab all you want but your hand just keeps slipping off the back of that slick, bald head.”

Vice President Biden, you have a great opportunity right now. If you cannot grab it now, you will be left grabbing at the back of the slick, bald head. Opportunity is coming toward you.

In 2016, many things came together to change the outcome of the presidential election. Most were once-in-a-blue-moon sort of things and may not happen again. One, however, is absolutely certain to happen in this election: voter suppression. In the last presidential election, voter suppression came from citizens of this country and leaders of other countries. You can be 100 percent certain that it will come again in your bid for the presidency. And this voter suppression will be on steroids because so many governmental institutions have been compromised. Opportunity is coming toward you.

The vote of black people will be the foremost target of voter suppression. First, voter suppression succeeded in the last presidential election and is too tempting a target to pass up this time. Second, suppressing the black vote has a very long and successful history. Third, it is easier to suppress the black vote than others because so many forces already are arrayed against it. Fourth, there are fewer repercussions from suppressing the black vote because black folks matter less. Fifth, while black voters are generally supportive of you, most are not enthusiastic about you. You must act now to counter the terrible impact of the coming voter suppression. Opportunity is coming toward you.

The second target of voter suppression will be younger voters. First, many younger voters are already reluctant voters. Second, they are often more idealistic and therefore easier to become disillusioned. Third, they are more subject to virtual impact, the now preferred medium of suppression. Fourth, they are not very enthusiastic about you. You must be proactive and commence countering the coming voter suppression right now. Opportunity is coming toward you.

Vice President Biden, the most effective preemptive action is to select the right running mate. If you select Stacey Abrams as your vice presidential running mate, you will take a giant preemptive step toward countering the voter suppression that is sure to come. Stacey Abrams will stimulate black voters and younger voters who otherwise may not vote. There is no more effective counter to voter suppression than powerful voter stimulation. Opportunity is coming toward you.

I truly appreciate Secretary Hillary Clinton. However, I believe her campaign made “vice presidential simpatico” more important than winning. I really like Sen. Tim Kaine, but he did not stimulate those whom Secretary Clinton could not stimulate. I suspect that you and President Barack Obama did not start off with such simpatico, but that simpatico relationship grew over time and through circumstances. I suspect President Obama selected you for reasons to help ensure victory rather than his feeling simpatico with you. You helped stimulate Americans to vote that he could not. I hope and pray you also act to help ensure victory in selecting your running mate. That means increasing turnout of black voters and young voters. That turnout is critical to your winning. Opportunity is coming toward you.

Simpatico is not worth a warm cup of spit if you don’t win the presidency. Your vice presidential candidate must be strong in moving voters where you are the weakest. I also believe that Clinton’s campaign assumed that black voters would come out in great numbers regardless. Black voters did but not enough. The winning difference is a black vote of 95 percent instead of 89 percent. Not only was the percentage of black voters lower with Clinton and Kaine, but black turnout also was significantly lower than when Obama and you ran (60 percent for Clinton vs. 68 percent turnout for Obama). A few thousand more black and/or younger voters in the right places would have overcome the shenanigans of Russia, the FBI director, the bogus email attacks, etc., in 2016. I hope and pray that you do not make the same mistakes and lose again. Opportunity is coming toward you.

I also value Vice President Al Gore. But he also appears to have chosen as a running mate someone with whom he felt simpatico, Sen. Joe Lieberman. That was a choice that made Vice President Gore happy but did nothing to increase turnout of base voters or help ensure a victory in any way. Lieberman did not stimulate Americans to vote that Gore could not stimulate. Simpatico came before winning, and that resulted in defeat. I hope and pray you do not make those same mistakes of the past and lose the 2020 election. Opportunity is coming toward you.

There is not a single swing state where high black and younger voter turnout will not contribute decisively to your winning. Only Stacey Abrams can do that. To be blunt, I do not believe that Sen. Kamala Harris or Sen. Amy Klobuchar can contribute in the same way. Moreover, their prosecutorial backgrounds will be used to successfully suppress black voter turnout. Opportunity is coming toward you.

In my humble opinion, Trump supporters are attracted to his personality. You cannot pull them away with reason, geographical background, promises, or vice presidential running mates, etc. Your campaign must turn out your base to the highest degree possible. Being generally for you and against Trump is not enough. You need Stacey Abrams. Opportunity is coming toward you.

I understand that some will say Abrams is too young and inexperienced. I reject that reasoning. President Obama and President John Kennedy were not more experienced than Abrams. She has succeeded in elective office, legislative leadership in the eighth-most populous state in the nation, business affairs, community initiatives and literary contribution. I know some will say the person you pick must be considered your successor. I also reject that proposition. The house is on fire right now. She who can carry the most water now must be given the water bucket. We must not only save a burning house; we must save a burning country. Abrams can carry the water. Opportunity is coming toward you. Seize it now!

Opportunities come. Preparations are made. Neither opportunity nor preparation mean anything if the two don’t engage. Every now and then opportunity and preparation meet by luck. They meet much more often when need and common sense meet. However, as my mother would say, common sense is not common. Opportunity is coming toward you.

Henry “Hank” Sanders was a Democratic member of the Alabama senate for 35 years.

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