Picking a Veep Shouldn’t Be Hard

Joe Biden’s failure to make a decision about his Veep is … not good. This is the first and only opportunity to demonstrate leadership non-incumbent candidates have. It should be a gimme. There are hundreds of Americans who could plausibly fill the role, and dozens that will be hailed as excellent. Study after study has shown that the downside risk is very low with any VP selection: avoid choosing a Palin or Quayle and you’re good. Even a Pence proved adequate. Many of the names Biden is purportedly considering — Susan Rice, Kamala Harris, Tammy Duckworth — would be hailed as historic choices and strengthen the campaign.

To the extent anything rides on the choice, it’s opportunity, not ruin. Biden is a wobbly 78 and, by his own admission, a placeholder candidate. He may pass important legislation and get a Supreme Court nomination, but anyone first elected to federal office in 1972 is not the future of the Democratic Party. The one profound way he can guide the direction of the party is by choosing the woman who will be its future standard-bearer. If he selects Elizabeth Warren or Karen Bass, that guidance slips from his grasp. A number of the other women are in their 50s and positioned to set that future agenda. He just needs to choose the one who reflects his vision. It shouldn’t be difficult.

To dither over such a decision is to suggest that Biden may not be up to harder calls. National and local leaders have been asked to choose between keeping their districts shut down and suffering economic disaster, or open up and risk infecting a population. Once he’s in power and economic and health advisors show him competing charts of potential doom, will he act decisively? Watching him waffle makes one wonder.

Picking a veep is a low-stakes decision that should position a candidate to demonstrate leadership. The process should be methodical, orderly, timely, and definitive. It should galvanize rather than divide a party. It increasingly looks haphazard, slow, and makes Biden look indecisive. Of course I’m 100% behind Biden (which is to say 100% against Trump), but this is a dispiriting spectacle.

Jeff Alworth is the author of several books including The Beer Bible and Cider Made Simple, as well as the co-founder of the political website BlueOregon.

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Jeff Alworth

Jeff Alworth

Jeff Alworth is the author of several books including The Beer Bible and Cider Made Simple, as well as the co-founder of the political website BlueOregon.

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