With the 2016 election just four months away, the attention has started to shift to who the vice presidency nominees of the United States will be for each of the presidential candidates.
The vice presidency may not be something that many people think about, but the topic is ripe with ideas for a research paper, including the history of the office and what the process is for choosing a running mate.
Second in command
During an election year for president of the United States, summer is not only when each party’s convention is held, it is also when the nominees pick their running mates. Typically the political parties will consider whether a prospective candidate for the vice presidency will help the presidential candidate, potentially balance any weakness the presidential candidate is thought to possess, or help win a swing state. But according to Julian Zelizer in “The vice presidency is no longer a joke” for CNN.com on July 11, 2016, both parties are going about picking running mates entirely wrong.
In the history of selecting a person for vice president of the United States rarely has the focus been on the real possibility that the person named could have to run the country. Since Walter Mondale served as vice president under Jimmy Carter, the role of the vice presidency has expanded in power and scope. Zelizer said, “Given the role that the vice president inevitably plays, it is vital that we think about how this individual will be as an influential policymaker, not just as part of the campaign ticket.” Research paper topics could explore the way the influence the vice president has on policy, or the way the eight vice presidents who became president due to the death of a president handled the role.
A traditional vice presidency
Republican nominee Donald Trump has named Mike Pence, governor of Indiana, as his running mate. Many Republicans applaud the choice, feeling that he balances Trump’s unpredictability. While Pence may soothe the anxiety of more traditional members of the party, his nomination for the vice presidency of the United States is not ground breaking.
Ed Rogers explained in his post, “Trump’s vice presidential picks suggest he isn’t that crazy” for The Washington Post July 14, 2016. He wrote, “with Pence as the vice presidential nominee is that he will undoubtedly quickly go the way of traditional vice presidential candidates and the focus on him will slip away in short period of time.” Rogers predicted that the excitement that Pence generates will be short lived if the history of the selection of a running mate is any indication. In terms of momentous nominees, a research paper could focus on someone like Geraldine Ferraro, who was the first female named as a candidate for vice president for a major party.
A successful administration
Right now the focus on the naming of each candidate’s running mate is centered on how that person can help the democratic or republican nominee win the 2016 election. But a look at the history of the pick for vice president shows us that, while the short-term issue is the election, the success of an administration often lies in who is named to the vice presidency. A research paper could examine the most successful presidential administrations and what role the vice presidency played in that success.
“The Real Stakes in the Veepstakes: Here’s What the Democratic Nominee-And All of Us-Should Consider in Thinking about the Vice Presidency” by Paul Waldman for the spring 2016 edition of The American Prospect highlighted five things a candidate should be looking for in a vice president. They included: someone who is ready to become president if needed; someone who “knows the federal government well enough to navigate its complexity to accomplish difficult tasks; 3) has the political skills that are required both internally and externally, so as to act as an effective spokesperson for the administration;” and finally a running mate should be able to give smart and thoughtful advice while having and maintaining a strong relationship with the president.
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