Monday, March 17, 2008

Electing the Vice President

Since the passage of the 12th Amendment in 1804 the vice presidency has become the least sought after office. Prior to 1804 the person who received the second most electoral votes became the vice president. That meant that someone who went after the presidency was really worth the office, just look at the only two men who were elected to the office pre-12th Amendment: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. (Aaron Burr was elected on a backfired attempt at the first ever president/vice president ticket which is a story unto itself). Up until the 1950s the 12th Amendment made the vice presidency a balancing act to a presidential election, rather than a qualified office holder for the higher office. There were some exceptions between 1804 to the 1950s of great men in the vice presidency, but truly with Richard Nixon the vice presidency became an office to be reckoned with. As the 20th Century came to an end the importance of the vice presidency became ever apparent especially with the passage of the 25th Amendment which finally stated in the Constitution that "the Vice President shall become President" upon death, resignation, or removal from office.

Recently it has been said that Senator John McCain should reveal who is on his short list for vice president, since the search for his v.p. is going on behind closed doors. And why not? Go back eight years when then-Governor George W. Bush of Texas selected former Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney to head up his vice president selection committee. In the end, Secretary Cheney chose himself as the best candidate for vice president. After eight years of Cheney as vice president, who has become indisputably the most powerful vice president in United States history, the citizens of the United States should have more say as to who their vice president is.

Long ago the presidential nominating conventions lost the right to pick the vice presidential candidate for either party. The presidential candidates have been the ones to choose their respective running mates. Some were once bitter rivals during the primary campaign season and then became a presidential ticket, like Senator John F. Kennedy and Senator Lyndon Johnson in 1960, former Governor Ronald Reagan and former Director of the CIA George Herbert Walker Bush in 1980, and Senator John Kerry and Senator John Edwards in 2004. The time has come for the voters to decide the vice president.

A perfect example is the 2008 Democratic primary race for president. Neither Senator Barack Obama or Senator Hillary Clinton have enough votes to obtain the Democratic nomination. The party is almost split on the decision. It has come to the point where the two need to be on the same ticket to appease supporters of both candidates whether it is Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama. Also with the request of McCain to reveal his "short list" of v.p. candidates, it seems ever apparent that electing a vice president instead of having the presidential candidate making his or her first presidential decision pre-presidency is what the electorate wants. During the primary election each state should not only vote for their choice for president but their choice for vice president, on a separate ballot just like in the general election.

This separate ballot primary election will once again return the stature that was taken away by the 12th Amendment and return some electoral glory to the office as well as prevent the long drawn out primary or closed door selection as seen in the 2008 presidential/vice presidential selection.

1 comment:

JVAA said...

Very strong arguements Dr. Garcia. I think that having the primary nominate a vice president would be an interesting idea. My fear is that the voters would make judgements based on character rather credentials. I should probably have more faith. Imagine another quasi corrupt bargain scenario. Pres. candidates taking sides. Factions of each party forming. Hey this might take us out of the two party system! Imagine these parties: social liberals with free market capitalists, conservative christians with an anti-open door trading policy platform. Yellow dog dems blending with compassionate conservatives. Viva democracy! The flip side is Dan Quayle. Peace. CV fo life.