One of the milestones of any presidential campaign is the all-important selection of the vice-presidential nominee.
Aside from potentially winning votes and having a line of succession in place — per the Constitution — a crucial requirement is for the nominee to unify the party while appealing to the middle swath of American voters.
This has mostly been the case since Article II created the office — which might be the most joked about political office in American history.
Simply put, united conventions tend to win in the fall while divided conventions tend to lose in the fall. The Democrats were united in 1964, 1976, 1992, 1996, 2008 and 2012.
The Republicans were united in 1968, 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000, and 2004.
Both parties were united in 1960, 2000 and 2016 and, guess what?
These produced three of the closest elections in American history. Of course, the presence of a major third party candidate — as in 1968 and 1996 can often knock everything into a cocked hat.
John Kennedy’s choice of Lyndon Johnson bears examining.
The young, liberal, inexperienced Kennedy chose a stalwart, conservative Democrat who brought the wisdom of his years to the campaign and helped bridge the gap between North and South.
Johnson helped carry the South, and eased the Protestant voting bloc fears about a Catholic president. It was also true with the liberal Franklin Roosevelt and his choices of running mates, John Nance Garner of Texas and later Harry Truman of Missouri, both to the right of Roosevelt.
Likewise, 40 years ago, the conservative Ronald Reagan chose the more liberal George H.W. Bush to unify the GOP for the coming fall fight with Jimmy Carter. Not only that, Bush had what some called a "golden resume," having served as a member of Congress, RNC chairman, and ambassador to the U.N. among other accomplishments.
In short, Bush 41 brought robust, foreign policy experience to the table, that matched Reagan’s domestic policy experience.
Thus, there has been a reason why, in the words of Richard Nixon, you tack to the right or left in the primaries (depending on the party) and then move to the middle in the general election.
With that in mind, it’s perplexing why Joe Biden opted for Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as his running mate for the 2020 campaign.
Beyond the obvious (being a woman of color) she brings nothing to the table.
Biden was going to get the vast majority of the African American vote anyway and a healthy number of women voters. No, the real problem is her liberalness.
If possible, Sen. Harris is even more to the left than Joe Biden, which leaves the remaining centrist Democrats in effect kicked off the island.
Historically; however, her choice does complete a process begun more than 50 years ago when the conservative Barry Goldwater chose the equally conservative Congressman Bill Miller of New York.
This was the onset of driving moderate and liberal Republicans out of the GOP while attracting conservative Democrats.
Hence, over the years, Democrats such as Gov. John Connally and Sen. Strom Thurmond became Republicans while liberal Republican mayor of New York, John Lindsay, became a Democrat.
As of 2020, the GOP has picked tickets that are right or mostly right of center and now the Democrats pick tickets which are left or mostly left of center.
The problem for the Democrats is, America remains a center-right country and has been so, more or less, since the late 1960’s.
Reagan and Bush were primary rivals, it’s true, but they came to respect one another (somewhat).
In the span between the end of the primaries and his selection as running mate, Bush never broadsided Reagan, as Harris has Biden on issues such as forced busing.
However, Biden’s biggest mistake in picking Harris is that she embodies about the least-unifying of candidates.
Let’s face it. he didn’t have a great pool to choose from.
Nevertheless, her selection also demonstrates the weakness and uncertainty of Biden.
He clearly wants to pander to the far-left base that has Democrats in a choke-hold, and picking Harris is an unvarnished attempt to win them over.
These aren’t the voters that need Biden’s attention though; independents and moderates are the folks he needs to worry about.
In other words, he does not need the vote of the kids throwing the Molotov Cocktails; he needs the votes of the small businessperson who store was just burnt out by the BLM rioters.
What’s more, Harris herself has made it abundantly clear, throughout her national career that she has no interest in reaching across the aisle.
Every move she has made since coming to Washington, D.C. has entrenched her with the provocative, modern Left, unwilling to compromise.
A GovTrack poll has her farther left than Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Her bread and butter has been vilifying those with whom she disagrees while using the offense she inflicts on others to boost her own standing with the liberal base. Look no further than the Judge Kavanaugh hearings for proof.
Joe Biden should have picked a better-qualified running mate for a number of reasons. Kamala Harris is a self-serving career politician who will sow discord and alienate the moderate electorate.
For his part, Biden has proven he’s an ineffectual, eager-to-please pawn.
If elected, stronger, less friendly leaders, globally, are going to have a field day with both Harris and Biden — daily.
Craig Shirley is a Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian. His books include, “Reagan’s Revolution, The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started it All,” “Rendezvous with Destiny, Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America,” "Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years," and “ Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan." He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, “December, 1941” and his new 2019 book, “Mary Ball Washington,” a definitive biography of George Washington’s mother. Shirley lectures frequently at the Reagan Library and the Reagan Ranch. He has been named the First Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater and will teach a class this fall at the University of Virginia on Reagan. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. Read Craig Shirley's Reports — More Here.
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