Lifting our voices — and votes

Lifting our voices — and votes
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There has been much chatter in the Democratic space about the African American vote and the African American agenda. Rightly so; if we are honest, African Americans are the wind beneath the wings of the Democratic Party. That has been proven election after election.

So the recent comments by former vice president Joe BidenJoe BidenMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Biden offers well wishes to Lebanon after deadly explosion MORE that made headlines naturally increased the chatter. As I’ve noted, I would have said it differently, but the agenda of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Trump camp considering White House South Lawn for convention speech: reports Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary MORE and the Republican Party for African Americans against that of Biden, the Democrats’ presumptive nominee, is night and day.

If we are calling balls and strikes, as good umpires should, we would see across America right now that:

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  • Black families earn a fraction of what white families earn, and unemployment for African Americans is roughly double;
  • More than 4.6 million black children live in households where no parent has a full-time job;
  • Voter ID laws, voter roll purges and precinct closures have combined with GOP-led gerrymandering to revive Jim Crow at the ballot box and deny people of color their right to vote;
  • Black families are significantly more at risk for asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes, and black communities across America are overcharged and underserved by a flawed health care infrastructure;
  • 82 percent of black fourth graders aren’t reading at grade level and roughly a third aren’t graduating on time; and
  • People of color make up about 28 percent of our nation’s total population but 56 percent of our prison population.

But don’t panic. This isn’t another one of those articles where the author beats you over the head with the staggering statistics that illustrate the relentlessly racist state of our “more perfect union.”

This is about doing something to counter this sad state of affairs.

You see, in his “Plan for Black America,” Biden doesn’t just recite the same old symptoms of systemic racism that we’ve heard over and over again, in the hope that we’ll take our outrage to polling places on Election Day. Instead, he lays out policies and priorities that actually could make a difference.

More importantly, he is not suggesting a “magic wand” that will miraculously erase our sorrows once he takes office. He has made it clear that it only works when we all put our shoulders to the grindstone. But he would take the first step.

In his plan, Biden would “lift every voice.” Now it’s up to us to lift our votes. It’s not just the smart play; it’s the right one.

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We’ve come to the time for choosing — Donald Trump or Joe Biden. And that makes Biden’s black agenda even more telling. 

You see, the Trump agenda’s reality — and what four more years of that nonsense would mean for our families and our nation — makes the choice a stark one. 

Biden didn’t have to reach out to voters of color. In fact, the conventional Democratic Party wisdom for at least the past generation takes black voters for granted, assuming that we have no other voice. With that in mind, Biden could have taken the path of least resistance and relied upon the “Anybody but Trump” strategy.

But he isn’t doing that. Instead, he dares us to believe in something better, something greater than ourselves.

He dares us to imagine an America that closes the racial wealth and health gaps; an America that finally lives up to its promise by investing in minority students and closing the school-to-prison pipeline; an America that recognizes, respects and protects our right to vote and makes “liberty and justice for all” a reality instead of just a catchphrase.

Biden’s message is more than just recognizing that driving strong turnout and support from voters of color is the best way to overcome the GOP suppression in swing states such as North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. 

It’s not because the rhetoric of race grabs headlines and makes for compelling campaign advertisements. It’s because it's moral, it’s just, it’s right.

Joe Biden isn’t saying, “Fight for me because I’m not Donald Trump.” He’s saying “Fight with me because we’re fighting for you.”

That’s not just interesting — it’s remarkable.

My leader and mentor, House Majority Whip Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnClyburn: Biden needs VP pick who has 'a lot of passion' Jim Jordan presses Fauci on protests, COVID-19 This week: Congress set for bipartisan coronavirus talks as clock ticks MORE (D- S.C.), always reminds me that our lives are the sum total of our experiences. Well, my experiences have taught me that when we are united behind a single vision for change, the black community makes history.

I’ve made it clear that, in 2020, voters of color would not only determine our nominee, but would decide who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for the next four years. This is our chance to make that prediction come true. 

This is our chance to “lift every voice and sing” while we march to the polls in November to elect those who will fight for the issues that matter to our families. This is our chance to make a real difference. It’s up to us to take it.

Antjuan Seawright is a Democratic political strategist, founder and CEO of Blueprint Strategy LLC, and a CBS News political contributor. Follow him on Twitter @antjuansea.