Friday, May 16, 2008

Obama's Vice-Presidential Choice

The biggest mistake Barack Obama could make is to ask Hillary Clinton to be his running mate. Just because she has run second to him does not justify her being on the Democratic Party's presidential ticket. Deliberately or unconsciously, the Clintons would do everything they could to undermine the campaign.

However, there will be some who say that not to ask her to be his vice-president would be disrespectful. This election is not about Hillary and Bill Clinton's egos. Far more is at stake than their wounded feelings.

The only way Obama can avoid asking Clinton and upsetting her supporters is to name another woman as his running mate. Just as Obama has energized young and black voters, Clinton has energized a number of women voters. Clinton's campaign has given many women a sense of having a stake in the system. A woman deserves to be his runninig mate, just not Hillary.

I have two suggestions. The first is Kathleen Sebelius, two-term Governor of Kansas. Any Democrat who can be twice elected governor of a Republican state like Kansas knows something about how to appeal to "red state" voters. She has been married for 33 years, has two sons, and is the daughter of a former governor of Ohio. Given Ohio's status as a "swing" state, her ties to Ohio could be an asset. She is also a Catholic, and though she has been banned from receiving communion for her support of abortion, her Catholicism would be a counterweight to those white people who want to believe Obama is an Arab Muslim.

My other suggestion is House majority leader Nancy Pelosi. She is a woman of Hillary's generation, married with five children, a Catholic from California with its 55 electoral votes. In addition she knows how to play the politics on Capitol Hill, and I'm not sure Obama does.

A real test of Obama's being the representative of a new politics will be his vice-presidential choice. The primaries have demonstrated that a woman deserves to be on the ballot with him. I, for one, will be very disappointed and more than a little disillusioned if he chooses a man.

© 2008 by Julius Lester


Quaestuary (KWES-tyoo-er-ee): Profit-oriented; money-making.

The United States' fatal flaw is its quaestuary political philosophy.

1 comment:

EnnaVic said...

I think you are spot on with this analysis. I don't know enough about the strong Democratic Party women to comment on specific contenders though - somehow, except for Nancy Pelosi, they don't make it onto our radar down here.