I’m writing my quadrennial Veepstakes post early this year. I typically call it Veepstakes, Lowstakes but this year is different. Politically, I stand by the opening graph of my 2016 post:
I am on the record as believing that the second slot on any national ticket is worth what FDR’s First Veep, Cactus Jack Garner, said about the office itself: “It’s not worth a bucket of warm piss.” Vice Presidential speculation is strictly a parlor game for the media and political junkies. Geographical balance is irrelevant, as is ideological balance or imbalance for that matter. The only reason the pick is of any significance is as an example of the nominee’s judgment. J Danforth Quayle was a terrible pick but Poppy Busy won 426 electoral votes in 1988. And Sarah Palin didn’t lose the 2008 election, Senator Walnuts did a bang up job of that himself.
The reason the Vice Presidential pick is more significant in 2020 is the age of the Democratic frontrunners. Joe Biden is 77 and Bernie Sanders is 78. It’s a bit depressing that our choice is so geriatric but life sucks, then you die. So it goes.
Some people persist in thinking that a running mate can help win an election. With the possible exception of Lyndon Johnson, it’s never worked out that way. People vote for the top of ticket and/or the party, not the Veep.
Two of the better Democratic picks of my lifetime sent a signal to the party and voters. In 1976, Jimmy Carter selected Fritz Mondale to reassure liberals that they could trust a Southern Governor. In 1992, Bill Clinton selected Al Gore to send a generational message. Ironically, both Clinton (73) and Gore (71) are younger than Biden and Sanders.
Twitter can be useful in focusing your thoughts. There, I said something nice about the tweeter tube. Here’s what I said there after the Super Tuesday Biden surge:
If either Biden or Sanders is the nominee, the Veep will be a president in waiting. They’ll need someone with Washington experience such as Harris or Castro. I love Stacey Abrams but don’t see her as ready to be president.
— Shecky (@Adrastosno) March 4, 2020
The president in waiting bit is the key to the 2020 selection. There’s a decent chance that Biden or Sanders will only serve one term; either voluntarily or for health reasons. That’s why my first choice for Veep is Kamala Harris. She’s tough, experienced, and a helluva public speaker. She’s the obvious choice if Biden is the nominee. I know the arguments against Senator Harris but the pluses far outweigh the minuses. Plus, black voters rescued Biden’s campaign, which is another argument for the junior senator from California.
Team Sanders floated a bizarre and unserious list a while back. I say unserious because it included Nina Turner and Tulsi Gabbard. Neither is remotely qualified to be president and they’re both a bit nutty. I’m would hope that the Democratic party would be unwilling to accept a running mate who voted for Jill Stein in 2016.
Since Senator Professor Warren is dropping out of the race, a masterstroke for Sanders would be to ask her to be his running mate. He’d have to overcome irrational Bernie Bro sentiment against her but it makes more sense than Tulsi Fucking Gabbard.
In the end, voters cast their ballots for the top of the ticket and the party, not the vice presidential candidate. That’s why either septuagenerian contender needs to pick someone qualified to be the 47th president. We’ve experimented with an unqualified president*. Look where it got us.
The last word goes to The Who: