Monday, July 02, 2012

Running Mates

I was just reading this article (while listening to this song if it helps put you in the right mood) about Mitt Romney's potential running mates, and all I can think is: why are the president and vice president a package deal?  Why do we get to vote on every publicly held office except the vice president?  Is it because the VP doesn't really do anything and has no real power, or is it because nobody cares who the VP is, or is it something else?  As far as I know, there's no political advantage to having a running mate, only a potential liability (see Sarah Palin).  I've never heard of anyone voting for or against a president based on his running mate.  I have yet to hear, "I wasn't sold on Obama until he brought on that Biden fellow."  Of the many idiosyncracies in the American political system, this one possibly makes the least sense to me (although admittedly I don't see the point of the electoral college either).

It wasn't always this way.  Originally, the second place candidate in the presidential election would become the vice president.  I'm not suggesting we return to that, but I'm sure the majority of Americans would prefer to have vice president McCain in place of vice president Biden.  Who am I kidding, nobody cares.  Certainly there are down sides to this, foremost among them that it would encourage crackpots (of which we have an ever increasing number) to become assassins if their candidate lost the election.  Anyway, this all changed in 1804 with the ratification of the 12th amendment, though it's unclear whether the intent was to devolve into our current system. 

What I'm suggesting is a separately elected vice president, if for no other reason than I think Americans should be able to choose their own leaders.  It will also return some of the prestige to the position that has been lost over the years.  Currently, the VP is just a glorified cabinet member.  Directly electing a VP would increase representation by adding someone to the White House staff who was not appointed by the president and therefore not in political lock step.  Obviously, if a VP from the opposition party were elected, it would potentially be too difficult to work together - the situation that led to the 12th amendment in the first place.  So I think that the VP should be elected from the same party as the president.  This just makes too much sense not to be implemented.  It should be the 28th amendment, or Crawford amendment if you will.  And you will, if I have anything to say about it.
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