Mares: The Running Mate Game

Jun 17, 2019

While co-authoring a recent book about Vermont and presidential politics, I come up with an idea that could neatly shorten the Democratic selection process for 2020 – and it merely involves a simple change in the nominating procedure. It would mean over-turning 200 plus years of practice, but we're not talking about amending the Constitution here.

My idea is for each candidate to pick a running mate before the convention. This would enable them to run through the primaries as pairs – and instantly cut the field in half without losing a soul. Of course, the biggest hurdle won't be about money, or crowds, or talent or tweets, but which one in each pair will agree to be the vice-presidential candidate - a choice about as appetizing as a rubber chicken in a campaign event dinner.

Along the same lines, I've also had an idea for a board game, that I call TWO-FER in which the goal would be to choose which pair would be the most likely to win the big contest. The challenge would be to balance traits like personality with money, region with experience, and gender with race. And all could play - from coffee shops, grocery stores, bars, and gas stations - to Little League sidelines, college classes, and shop floors.

Just imagine the interesting combination cards you could draw in this game. Military experience or lack thereof might be one card. Old and young might be another. Gay and straight; male and female; white, black and brown; rural and urban; radical, conservative and centrist - even Rust Belt and Sun Belt - the possibilities are endless.

I haven't quite figured out how to win the game. But I'm sure it would mean successfully identifying which two individuals would - together - result in the best combination of qualities and talents necessary to handle simple challenges like infrastructure renewal, foreign policy, trade, climate change, income inequality, and health care.

You know, war and peace and all that - just all the complexities of life we face in the U.S. today.