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If Hillary Wins the Nomination, She Should Choose Bernie for VP

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 27/03/2016 Paul Abrams

In order to (try to) avoid a torrent of angry responses regarding Bernie still having a shot to win the nomination, let me state that I am not assuming anything, and that I think Bernie should absolutely continue his race for the nomination and not drop out. And, I write this as someone very sympathetic to Bernie's agenda.

Finally, while I believe both Hillary and Bernie could win a general election, I happen to think that Hillary is a safer bet. There has not yet been the torrent of negative campaigning against Bernie that Hillary has endured for a quarter of a century, and yet she is not only still standing but is not so far behind Bernie's margins against Trump.

Winning the general is far more important than whether it is Bernie or Hillary.

Let me now move to why, if Hillary is the nominee, she should select Bernie as the VP candidate.

  1. It shows the respect due a large portion of the Democratic electorate who worked hard and voted for Bernie.
  2. More importantly, it shows the respect due, and will be insisted upon by Bernie if he accepts, to the agenda he offered.
  3. It will swell the crowds at campaign rallies beyond anything the Republican base can match, providing both the votes and energy to win a resounding victory.
  4. It will provide Bernie's millions of online contributors, enabling the Hillary-Bernie ticket to take federal funding and eschew large contributions.
  5. It will be another -- along with the first female nominee and president -- precedent-breaking move for an electorate that wants precedents broken. But, in a positive way.

Why Bernie should, under certain policy conditions, accept.

  1. From the VP perch, Bernie will be in the ideal position to continue to mobilize voters to achieve the policy ends he has championed. (Two days after President Obama's first election, I urged him to do just that. He didn't. It hurt.)
  2. Many of the differences between Bernie and Hillary are resolvable. For example, in health care, adding the public option to Obamacare provides the means for both perspectives to be incorporated. In banking, breaking up the big banks makes passing Glass-Steagall less compelling. Minimum wage level compromises are being forged all around the country.
  3. Bernie should insist, and Hillary should agree, that on cabinet positions such as Treasury, Labor, HHS, that Bernie and she need to have a consensus. My choice for Treasury: former Labor Secretary, Robert Reich. For HHS, Howard Dean, M.D. For Labor: Larry Cohen, President of the Communications Workers.
  4. From the VP perch, Bernie could not only mobilize the pressure in the Congress for an amendment to overturn Citizens United, he could barnstorm states as their legislatures were considering the amendment to ratify it. He could also insist that IRS re-write the rules on "dark money" to be consistent with Congressional language when it was passed.
  5. Bernie should be permitted to avoid many of the ceremonial chores of the Vice-Presidency, so he has time to focus on policy and mobilization. That is where Bill Clinton becomes even more valuable. Having a former president who is the husband of the sitting president attend to many of these symbolic duties, rather than the sitting Vice-President, is no reduction in honor or prestige of those events.
  6. Due to age, this is Bernie's last hurrah as a potential presidential candidate. By bringing the party together, by helping the ticket win a resounding victory in November, by employing his new-found fame and passionate support to mobilize pressure not just to talk about, but actually to pass important legislation, he will have made contribution to our country as large as he might have as president. 

Presidents from FDR to Obama have urged people to "make me do this" when they support a policy that faces entrenched opposition.

Let us not kid ourselves: Medicare and the Civil Rights Laws including the Voting Rights Act, recently eviscerated by the right-wing Supreme Court, passed only because the reaction to President Kennedy's assassination provided LBJ with huge majorities, and his opponent was Barry Goldwater. Much of the economic and social progress under the New Deal occurred only because FDR enjoyed large majorities.

If Hillary is the nominee, a Hillary-Bernie ticket will be a big winner, and a Clinton-Sanders administration will be a big winner for the American people.

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