Commentary: VP Myths And Misguided “Conventional Wisdom”
by Christopher G. Adamo
The nation has now reached that milestone of the presidential campaign in which major speculation is taking place regarding the choice of running mate for presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney. And while the ultimate decision will of course fall to Romney, a great deal of bad advice is being offered by party players operating under wholly wrongheaded presumptions and exhibiting a total lack of understanding of the potential to negatively impact the campaign.
Across the political aisle, the political winds of the 2012 campaign cycle are such that an admittedly small possibility exists that Barack Obama might feel compelled to jettison Joe Biden, his current vice-president, and opt for a more suitable alternative. Of course in most peoples’ minds the principal contender is Hillary Clinton. And even if such conjecture is proven to be completely baseless, it is nonetheless illustrative of the extreme instability of the current political climate, and the critical need to fully grasp its significance.
For starters, the standard belief among too many GOP insiders is that both camps basically operate in a similar manner, only differing in their agenda preferences. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Historically, it has been disastrous for Republicans to make such an assumption, and the repercussions would be no less dire in this election cycle.
All too often, this foolish supposition leads to transparent pandering and the spewing of empty promises, which only spawn cynicism and disillusionment among the targeted group of potential voters. Overwhelmingly, the dubious prospect of trifles bestowed from Washington is not something to which those on the right aspire. Rather, they seek the implementation of sound policy and the general improvement of the condition of the nation, which will not afford them offerings from Washington, but expands their opportunities to operate under their own initiative and thus better themselves.
It should be of no consequence to the Republican candidate that his liberal opponents enjoy success when engaging in the virtual purchase of votes by promising the direct return of “benefits” from government coffers. The connection between Democrat party leaders and their voting constituency is starkly different from the relationship between grassroots conservatives and aspiring Republican contenders.
Even more significantly, the contrast in motivating principles between the right and left imposes limitations on Republican candidates which if ignored result in significant voter alienation. All too often, the Democrat triumphs not from a superior platform or greater appeal to the electorate, but simply because the insipidness of a Republican campaign run on the premise of “moderation” and “appealing to the middle” so thoroughly dissipates voter enthusiasm.
The historical case in point, which should never be forgotten, is the actuality of the electoral “success” of former president Bill Clinton. Venerated in the present day and lauded by a sycophantic liberal press, Clinton was never the political wizard that his revisionist cronies now assert him to have been. In both of his elections, he received less than fifty percent of some of the lowest overall voter turnouts in the past eight decades. Yet he won his races nonetheless, simply because his Republican opponents generated even less enthusiasm among the voting base.
So where does the choice of nominee’s running mate fit into all of this? Again, the manner in which a Republican can motivate the electorate by virtue of a particular nomination is markedly different from that of a Democrat. And that difference goes to the root of the growing divide between the methods and guiding principles of voters who comprise the two major parties.
In 2012, it is difficult to truly assign a set of guiding precepts to the “typical Democrat.” Rather, the party is made up of a collection of special interest groups, each of which sees an opportunity to advance its own agenda through access to federal power and, more importantly, federal dollars. In such an environment, wholly disparate groups can seemingly come together, since each will stand to reap its own share from the federal trough. As a result, a vice-presidential candidate who is starkly at odds with the head of the ticket can essentially lure a broader mix of voters into the ticket than one who holds a more limited philosophical perspective.
Outside of the Beltway, the GOP voting base is eminently different in nature. It consists of a coalition of people who ascribe to a common set of values that are overwhelmingly reflective of the nation’s traditions and the Judeo-Christian ethic. These Americans hold fast to such attributes as patriotism, in its true historical sense, along with a veneration of the American ideal and the promises it portends for those who pursue it. Consequently, they are largely immune to the allure of a vice-presidential candidate whose place at the table represents a token inroad for some particular subgroup. And in contrast to the splintered special interests that comprise liberal America, such constituencies are neither a fringe nor a faction. Rather, they are the backbone of the conservative movement.
In contrast to the methodology of the left, the worth of the Republican Party ticket will be the sum total of the principles and ideals which it can believably be expected to uphold and advance. Thus, the presidential nominee’s appeal will not be strengthened, but only diluted, by the choice of a running mate who ascribes to a different set of core values. Efforts at “broadening the base” by nominating such an individual will essentially reduce the credibility of the ticket to only those issues on which both candidates share a commonality of views.
In light of this, the most worthy approach, and also the most politically advantageous, would be to reassert the original purpose of the vice-presidency, which according to the Constitution was to ensure a continuation of a particular administration, and thus the continuity of the nation’s governance, in the event that the president was unable to complete the term of office. In this simple and honorable manner, candidate Romney by a prudent choice of a running mate could reassure the nation of his sincerity while solidifying confidence in the conservative principles to which he has professed allegiance, and which are so desperately needed to bring about national restoration.
Christopher G. Adamo is a resident of southeastern Wyoming. He has been involved in politics at the local and state level for many years. His contact information and article archives can be found at www.chrisadamo.com