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Turn runner-ups into running mates

FeatHatEatHN agrees with this · politics · opinion · 11/08/2020

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What Could've Been
Kamala Harris, supposed vice president-elect, was not popular; she dropped out of the 2020 Democratic primaries before voting began due to a lack of support and funding. At the time of dropping out, she was hovering around 3%. 

Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, was the only other candidate to come close to the amount of votes and delegates that Joe Biden had. Excluding Biden, Bernie Sanders won more than all of the other candidates combined. It's clear the Bernie represents a significant base of the Democratic primary. In order to truly give Democrats as a whole the best representation as possible, Biden should have picked Bernie as a running mate. Furthermore, it should be a norm that party nominees invite their runner-ups to join the ticket.

One might argue that the differences in Biden and Bernie's policies are too significant, and a ticket including both of them would signify an internally combative administration. However, look at the interaction between Biden and Harris in the primary debates. Harris' early claim to fame, the reason many remembered her at all, was her attack of Biden's record regarding race. Contrast that with a disagreement on progressive policy positions that Biden already supports lite versions of? You have ticket that is either diametrically opposed or entirely hypocritical.

Turning runner-ups into running mates is a democratic way to ensure that more people get a say in the presidency. The people who voted for Bernie in the primary, a quarter of voters in the primary, ought to have their voices heard in the administration. Not only in principle should the runner up, be the top of the list, but also strategically.

So many progressive voters have been turned off by Democratic nominees. It seems to have worked out this time, largely due to a severe distaste for the last four years, but in 2016? Bernie voters hated the DNC for picking Hillary. Rather than give the progressive wing a bone, they put Tim Kaine on the ticket: a lukewarm nothing-burger who had a poor debate showing. Had the DNC and Hillary not completely disillusioned progressive voters, maybe she would have won.

Let's go back further! By placing the inexperienced Sarah Palin on his ticket, Senator John McCain selected someone who, while initially celebrated, tanked his campaign after terrible interview performance. Party leaders slowly lost faith in her, making one think that maybe Mitt Romney, the next presidential nominee of the Republicans and popular vote runner up in 2008, might've been the better VP.

Maybe in 2012, the LDS member Romney might've done better at appealing to libertarian factions of the Republican party had he gone with Ron Paul, the 2rd place nominee much more focused on economic liberty than social conservatism, rather than fellow social conservative Paul Ryan who ended up losing debates to VP Biden.

In his first presidential bid, Ronald Reagan picked a moderate Republican as running mate before winning the nomination: he lost to Gerald Ford. 4 years later, Reagan wins the nomination, picks the runner-up, George Bush, as his running mate and wins nearly every state in the general election.

From a democratic, pluralistic, and strategic standpoint, the presidential nominee should strongly consider the primary runner-up as their vice president.


Biden and Harris on the Primary Debate stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1OvDB_wavI

Bernie and Biden, Issue by Issue: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/15/us/politics/joe-biden-bernie-sanders-issues.html



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