The job of the vice president hasn’t gotten much respect over the years.
Benjamin Franklin is rumored to have suggested that the title be renamed “His Superfluous Excellency.” Vice President John Nance Garner — aka, “who?” — said the role “is not worth a bucket of warm spit!” Even “Hamilton,” the blockbuster musical, got in on the veep-dissing. In one scene, Alexander Hamilton’s wife, urging him to take a break, says of the then vice president, “John Adams spends the summer with his family.” Hamilton retorts, “John Adams doesn’t have a real job anyway.”
But this year is very, very different.
The hyperventilating around the presumptive Democratic nominee’s running mate has been swirling for months. Who will Joe Biden pick? According to sources who spoke with Axios, he’s narrowed it down to Sen. Kamala Harris and former national security adviser Susan Rice.
Biden initially told reporters his answer would come by the first week in August, but as the week comes to a close, that seems less likely. Surely he wouldn’t waste that big of an announcement on a Friday news dump.
Biden, seeming to sense the gnawing frustration of his supporters, election watchers, an anxious media and late-night talk show writers, tweeted Wednesday: “Folks, a lot of you have been asking when I’m announcing my running mate, and I promise I’ll let you know soon.”
To be clear, Biden isn’t late, as some are suggesting. While President Donald Trump announced Mike Pence in July, Mitt Romney didn’t announce Paul Ryan as his veep selection until Aug. 11, 2012. Obama waited until Aug. 23, 2008, to announce Biden would be his.
But the urgency is fraught this year. With everything going on — an uncontained viral pandemic, millions out of work, a sinking economy and an incompetent lunatic presiding over it all — Biden’s running mate takes on considerably more significance.
Add to that the fact that Biden is getting up in years — he’ll be 78 when and if he is sworn in — and we’d be remiss not to consider that whomever he chooses could be running the country without being elected to do so.
Biden’s also got politics to consider. As an aging white man, it seems a younger woman of color would be a natural complement. Others think experience should be the guiding factor. Others still see a need for Biden to add an ideological counterweight — someone further to the left to help bring in the Bernie Sanders voters.
And so, for Biden, the choice matters for reasons both practical and political.
For me, it matters personally. After nearly four years of Trump’s chaos, incompetence, corruption, narcissism, nepotism, racism, authoritarianism and nihilism, I’m very seriously considering voting for Joe Biden, rather than write someone in, as I did in 2016.
As a staunch conservative who has voted Republican in past elections, I don’t take this lightly. I don’t agree with everything that Biden supports, nor am I 100% comfortable with the direction he wants to take the country.
But I do know I’m 100% uncomfortable with the direction Trump does. While I wish there were an actual conservative to vote for — someone who respects the Constitution, the rule of law, fiscal responsibility, national security interests, free speech and a free press — I know that four more years of Trump will further damage, possibly beyond repair, the institutions we hold so dear in this country.
For what it’s worth, I’m also just sick of all the crap. The gaslighting, the puerile tweets, the divisiveness, the rampant ignorance and the utter inability to put the country before his fragile ego. I’m ready to move on, I’m ready to make the presidency normal again.
But whom Biden selects is hugely important in my decisionmaking. There is, for example, a massive difference between Kamala Harris and Susan Rice. For me, it’s likely the difference between Biden getting my vote and writing someone else in. Harris would have my vote. Rice would not.
Not only do I need to know who Biden will pick, I need to know why. I need to know what he or she envisions for the country. His vice president will not just be a Biden rubber stamp, but a guiding force in his administration, and potentially his replacement. It won’t be enough to hear a boilerplate stump speech from his running mate. I need details.
With just under three months left until the election, time is of the essence. For moderates like me who are looking for reasons to vote for Biden, we need to know who’s on that ticket, and soon. I’m hoping, for the sake of the country, he chooses someone I can support.
S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.