The case against Vice President Sanders

Now that Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, the Bernie Bros are lobbying for her to choose Senator Sanders as her vice presidential running mate. That would be a big mistake for a number of reasons.

First of all, Senator Sanders is not a team player and, frankly, can not be trusted. It is critical, especially in foreign affairs, for the US government to be seen as speaking with one voice. That does not mean blindly acquiescing to the president’s wishes—Vice President Biden is known to have strongly opposed some actions taken by the Obama administration, notably the raid to capture Osama bin Laden. But once everyone has been heard behind closed doors and the president makes a decision, it is critical that the entire team back that course of action. In this regard, Mr. Biden has exemplified a loyal teammate. The risk that Mr. Sanders would conduct an independent foreign policy from Observatory Circle is simply too great.

Secondly, being from Vermont, Senator Sanders brings little strength to the ticket besides his appeal to the Bernie-or-bust crowd. Whether that actually would translate into votes for the Democratic ticket is doubtful. Many of those true-believers will see Mr. Sanders accepting the number two spot on the ticket as his selling out and will simply stay home on election day. Others will drift to Green Party perennial, Jill Stein. And the most rabid of Sanders’ supporters are threatening to vote for Donald Trump to “hasten the revolution.” Electorally, Senator Sanders is at best a wash.

Finally, and most importantly, is a very practical issue. Senator Sanders is 74 years old. While his life expectancy should see him through a Clinton presidency, the consequences were he to die in office are grave. In that case, under the 25th Amendment, the president would nominate a successor subject to confirmation by a majority of both houses of Congress. If recent history is any guide, in the likely event that the House of Representatives remains in Republican hands, such confirmation may well not even make it to the floor of that body. In that case, the next in line for the White House is the Speaker of the House, who might well be presidential hopeful Republican Paul Ryan. It is not difficult to image that in such a case, Congressional Republicans would be tempted to try to remove President Clinton by impeachment and accomplish what would be, in effect, a coup d’état.

If any of these scenarios seem farfetched, you have not been paying attention. The future of the country is too important for Secretary Clinton to risk choosing Senator Sanders to be Vice President. Perhaps he has done some good by goading her to the left, but it is time for him to go home and rest.


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