To the point week of 08-14-08


ARE PARTY POLITICS DEAD? As our country heads toward the National Conventions of both the Republican and Democratic parties, is this the year when Blue States and Red States become Purple States?

As both John McCain and Barack Obama consider vice presidential running mates, news organizations and political pundits are floating potential candidates in front of the American people. The surprise? Some of the names on the list are not only from different ends of the political spectrum, they aren’t even from the same party.

Could this be the presidential election when both candidates have vice presidents from the opposing party?

Don’t laugh – it could happen.

Just this week, former Republican Representative from Iowa Jim Leach endorsed Barack Obama for the presidency. If that wasn’t enough, Jim Leach is actively campaigning for the Illinois Senator to pick Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as his running mate this fall.

Chuck Hagel used to be a strong ally of John McCain in the Senate, so even though it seems to be a very risky move to pick a Republican running mate, it may move some Republicans who are uncomfortable with John McCain to the other side of the ballot in November.

There was even some rumblings that Obama would consider Indiana Republican stalwart Senator Dick Lugar for the vice presidential post – but Senator Lugar quickly squashed that possibility.

Not to be outdone, one of the people that John McCain is considering is Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

Technically, Joe Lieberman is an Independent; but he was a Democrat in previous terms in the Senate; and still caucuses with the Democrats.

Heck, he was Al Gore’s vice president in the 2000 election as a Democrat.

All of this “jumping the fence” politics is very interesting to me. I grew up in a time of “dyed in the wool” party members. You know them, too – the ones who will barely say the name of the opposing political party, let alone vote for someone on that ticket.

When you vote, there is a place at the top of the ballot for a person to vote “straight ticket”. If you don’t know about that box, it’s a way to simply make one mark and vote for everyone in that political party.

You don’t even look at the individual offices and who’s running – you just check the box and go on your way.

But although the “straight ticket” portion of a ballot does still exist, the number of people who vote that way has waned in recent elections.

Now, if both candidates pick a running mate from the opposing party – do you vote for the Democratic President with the Republican Vice President; or the Republican President with the Democratic Vice President?

Since the Vice President is also the President of the Senate; would the newly-elected chief executive run the risk of his second in command “jumping ship” and voting along party lines? At a critical vote on a measure of national importance, what happens if that vote comes down to the President of the Senate breaking the tie?

What about the future?

Say the President elected serves two full terms and can’t run again – when the Vice President moves up to run for the Presidency, which ticket would he or she run on?

Which party would their running mate come from?

All things considered, I think it would be refreshing to blur the political party lines. It may force voters – new and old – to look at the positions of the candidates and make a decision on who to vote for based on those positions; not on the name of the political party that is listed over the candidate’s name.