Wednesday, June 4, 2008


While we know it will be Obama versus McCain, the key issue for me is who will be the running mates. Contrary to the comments of political pundits, in this election the American electorate will have to take a hard look at the vice presidential candidate. While frequently seen as a “sideline” issue, in this election the second slot may be critical.

Historically, only fourteen Vice Presidents went on to become President. Five were elected, four inherited the office due to the natural death of the president, and four took office due to assassination and one through resignation. If elected, John McCain will be 72 when he takes office. Questions about his health must be a concern when deciding who gets your vote. If McCain chooses a right wing politician to garner conservative support, that choice will a factor in my voting decision.

With respect to Obama, I hesitate to mention a possible issue. I remember when JFK was elected to office. His style and oratory was my inspiration and resulted in my pursuing a degree in political science and in entering a career of public service. Upon his assassination, I was devastated. We all know that LBJ took up the civil rights cause and if were not for Vietnam, he may have a better slot in our political history. I am sure for those old enough to remember, Obama brings back memories of JFK. The question is, will this memory also include the tragedy? There are still elements in this country that would oppose any minority candidate as president and one can only hope that the Secret Service stays alert. This is why his running mate is of utmost importance in my thought process. History all too often is repetitive as we fail to learn the lessons of the past.

As we know, the role of the Vice President of the United States is the first person in the line of succession becoming the new President upon the death, resignation, or removal of the president. As designated by the Constitution of the United States, the vice president also serves as the President of the Senate, and may break tie vote in that chamber. He or she may be assigned additional duties by the President. Given the current state of world affairs, the American electorate must be prepared for any eventuality.

Regardless of who wins in November, the VP must be a person that has real political experience and not chosen just to appeal to certain voting blocs or interest groups. The stakes are too high to have a VP that is not tested and tried in the arena of national and international affairs. Hopefully both Obama and McCain will understand this concern as the VP candidate in the upcoming election may be their most important political decision.

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