Here's an idea: How about Mitt Romney for vice president?
It's not so far-fetched if you think about what just happened in California. We used the "top two" voting system this year for the first time in Congressional and state legislative races. Democrats, Republicans and others all ran against each other in a single primary election. Voters cast ballots for anyone they wanted. The top two vote-getters then moved onto the general election regardless of party affiliation. In California we had five Congressional contests this year where the top two Congressional candidates ended up coming from the same party.
You have to love that idea if you don't care much about political parties and just want the two "best" candidates in the final.
Now wouldn't it be fun, and maybe good for our country too, if we used an adaptation of that system in the presidential election? The top two candidates face off against each other ... and the loser automatically becomes vice president.
Personally I can't think of a better way to deal with the political divide that exists in our nation now. Basically our country is split 50/50 down the middle anyway, so why not give the VP spot to the person who comes in second, rather than use the "winner take all" system we have right now? I mean do we really need Joe Biden? At least those in the minority wouldn't feel completely disenfranchised. It would be a lot better if the reins of government were shared anyway. Plus, Romney would probably make a great VP. Right off the bat, Obama could dump the idea of creating a Secretary of Business (which I thought we had already in the position of Commerce Secretary). Romney could step right into that role as VP. Give him something meaningful to do.
While we're at it, let's also give the VP the right to appoint a few of the cabinet posts, say 40 percent of them. The president would decide which ones of course.
He'd probably offer up the Departments of Transportation, Agriculture, and maybe Veterans Affairs. Jobs like that. He'd keep the high profile appointments for himself. Like State, Defense, Labor, probably Education too. Maybe they could flip a coin for Energy.
Now let's not kid ourselves. The West Wing might be a little tense in the early going with the two former candidates under the same roof. Even in the cynical world of Washington politics, where sworn enemies one day can be racquetball partners the next, it still might be a little hard to kiss and make up after your opponent spent a zillion dollars positioning you as a dirty rotten liar or suggesting you be indicted. But given the opportunity to fly on Air Force 2, plus the helicopter, I'm sure most losers would let bygones be bygones and take the #2 job. For the sake of the country, I mean.
This idea may sound quite absurd. And perhaps it is.
What isn't absurd is the absolute necessity to get started right away finding real ideas to encourage a new age of bipartisanship and cooperation. The degree to which the electorate is divided today is a true threat to our democracy, especially if it continues to interfere with our ability as a nation to come together to solve our most pressing problems. It's gotten to the point where even neighbors are looking at each other differently now simply because of the campaign signs they put on the front lawn.
That's got to change. Our system of government, while not perfect, is based on the essential principle of collaboration, where competing interest groups are required to join together to find solutions that work for the broader good of society. But right now, many of our political leaders equate compromise to surrender. And many on both sides of the political divide are so convinced they are right, they don't just think the other side is wrong. They think they are stupid.
The truth of course is that neither side is entirely right, or wrong. There is great value in many of the positions held by both parties. What we need however is strong and visionary leadership from both sides to bring these competing interests and ideas together in ways that help everyone. There is simply too much at stake not to try.
Our political leaders have to stop worrying so much about gaining the upper hand for the next election, and start tackling the serious issues of the day. In other words, they need to put country before party. Because no matter which party might be the victor of the moment, if we don't stop playing a "win-lose" game, America will come up short in the end.
Maybe we can't make Mitt Romney our VP, but that doesn't mean we can't find other ways to bring us together for the good of the nation.
Also follow David on Politistink