Something doesn’t sit well with me regarding the process by which our Vice-President is chosen.  The very fact that he or she is chosen at all is bothersome.  Should some ill befall the President–should they fall victim to some disease, or be forced to resign mid-term due to corruption or other scandal–than the VP immediately assumes the role of President.

Now, I realize that by electing the President, we elect the Vice-President.  They come prepackaged on a “ticket.”  However, this is a misleading notion.  If we desire to elect the Republican nominee, then we are stuck with electing his or her choice of Republican Vice-President.  But what if we prefer a different Vice-Presidential candidate?  There are no Vice-Presidential primaries.  The only Vice-Presidential debates take place after the nominees are already the de facto choices.  Certainly the VP choice is an important strategical consideration for every Presidential nominee, and it serves them either well or poorly in the general election.

There are several things wrong with the concept of a “ticket” when electing our President.  First of all, it almost certainly ensures that one Party will occupy the number one and two seats of government.  Second, it allows a potential President to occupy the White House without actually being voted in by the people (should some ill befall his or her predecessor).  And third, it disenfranchises voters by removing them from a very important national decision.

Why not have two separate elections–one for the President, and one for the Vice President.  Some years the President and Vice President might both be Democrats; other years the President might be a Democrat, while his Vice President might be a Republican.  Voters would have the choice, through the primary system, to filter through the potential candidates.  As Presidential nominees dropped from that race, they could conceivably enter the VP race instead.  Some candidates who may have considered a Presidential run previously, might choose instead a Vice-Presidential run, knowing that the front-runners would dominate them at every turn if they chose to run for the Big Seat.

Critics of this system might cite political division in the Executive Branch as reason enough not to adopt an electoral system for choosing the Vice President.  However, this argument fails to address the real issue, which is that no matter what sort of “divisiveness” might occur under this situation, the benefit to democracy would be worth the political conflict.  After all, we embrace checks and balances in our Courts and in Congress–why should the Executive Branch exist without such measures?

Critics respond by saying the Executive Branch must operate with a purpose that the Congress can never achieve, swiftly and with a single direction.  I agree!  This is why the President has full control over the Executive Branch.  The Vice President can disagree all they like with their boss, but when the final word is handed down, they–like any Cabinet member–must follow orders.

Other opponents to an elected Vice President state that it would muddle the already muddled primary system, and complicate the voting process in the general elections.

I say, voting is messy business to begin with.  It was far easier crowning a King.  It’s still much less complicated to allow a dictator to rule decade after decade, and then simply hand the reigns on to his son or younger brother.  Complications should not deter democracy from reaching its full potential.  Obstacles, by their very nature, can be overcome.

The primary system is already broken and unfair.  Of course, that is a subject which deserves its own essay (or book of essays!) and will not be covered here.  Suffice to say, should a second Vice-Presidential primary run alongside the first, it would indeed complicate matters.  All the more reason to fix the system as it is now!  National primaries would solve a great deal of the inequity present in today’s system, for instance.  It would also save the contenders a great deal of money (though the mainstream media will never be for it, since it would eat away at their advertising funds drastically!)

In summation, it is high time we reformed the process by which we choose our Second in Command.  The Vice President is far too important an office to simply be chosen by a nominee.  This is the responsibility and the right of the people, and should they elect a Donkey to one office, and an Elephant to another, so be it.  At least we can say that Democracy has succeeded in its own motley fashion, and that America has continued upon its sometimes strange, often ironic, but always free course through the pages of History, and that it truly is a Government of, by, and for the People.

~read more political ramblings over at NeoConstant

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