The Vice Presidency: Insignificant?

In this presidential election year one position becoming crucial to the candidates, is their choice of running mate. For those uninitiated a “running mate” is the party’s nominee for the office of Vice President of the United States. This individual is usually selected by the nominee for President, and then voted on at the convention by the party. This individual, if elected, succeeds to the presidency in the event of removal from office, death, or resignation of the sitting president. Historically the position has been considered unimportant.

No one wants the worst case scenario of losing the elected president, but that possibility is very real based on history. In my opinion much more attention needs to be placed on the selection of the vice presidential candidates. After all it is possible this individual may become president. The vice president is the nation’s insurance policy.

Senator John McCann is the presumptive Republican nominee for president this year. If elected he would be the oldest person to be inaugurated at age 72 years. Today he released his medical records which show he is healthy and his cancer of a few years ago has not reappeared. McCann is extremely qualified to be president based on his years of experience in politics and in the military. Conservatives say he is not conservative enough, Democrats say he is too conservative. He is presently conducting a search for his running mate. He needs to select a much younger person, but one with experience. The candidate will likely be from a large northern state to balance the ticket, McCann is the senator from Arizona, so perhaps someone from Ohio or a similar state. Mitt Romney is in the running because of his support in New England.

On the Democratic side the likely nominee is Barack Obama the junior senator from Illinois. When he choses a running mate that person should be older than him with more experience. Barack has very little experience in foreign affairs, so it is likely someone strong in foreign affairs would be selected. Obama’s selection will likely be white and perhaps from a southern state such as Florida or Texas which he would need to win in the general election.

Whoever the nominees of both parties select needs to be qualified, experienced and able to serve as president. The position of vice president is not unimportant. Eight vice presidents have succeeded to the presidency, seven because of the death of the sitting president, and one on the resignation of the president. There have been several unsuccessful assassination attempts, health issues with presidents, and two attempts to remove presidents from office (impeachments).

It is clear the person holding the office of vice president is very important. More attention needs to be paid to the selection process, and once elected the vice president needs to be kept in the loop of the administration.

In this sheet of stamps issued by the African country of Liberia the Presidents shown are from 1928 until 2000. Some interesting observations on the 14 presidents depicted,

  • 3 of them died in office (Harding, FDR, Kennedy)
  • 1 of them resigned (Nixon)
  • 4 of them survived deadly serious assassination attempts (FDR, Truman, Ford, Reagan)
  • 4 of them succeeded to the office of president (Coolidge, Truman, Johnson, Ford)
  • 2 of them were former vice presidents who were later elected president after leaving office (Nixon, George H.W. Bush)

Still think the vice presidency is unimportant?

Stay tuned for more postings related to this fascinating position created by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, and the men who have held it.


2 Responses to The Vice Presidency: Insignificant?

  1. stamperdad says:

    I think the choice of both parties nominees for the v-p spot will be most interesting. Sometimes it makes for some strange bedfellows.


  2. Wholeheartedly agree on this- we take them for granted. As much care should be given to choosing Vice Presidents; we should assume that they be fit for the role of President.
    “Whoever the nominees of both parties select needs to be qualified, experienced and able to serve as president.” Definitely, but this seems to get lost in the tide of politics…
    I wonder who John McCain would pick for a running mate. We’ll see.

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