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Author Topic: The Vice Presidency
Fenring
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I just learned something new, which is that when Washington and Adams were both running for President in 1789 Washington came in first and won the Presidency, while Adams came in second and became Vice President. Does anyone know when the law on this changed and the Vice Present became a running mate with a candidate rather than the 2nd place prize among the main candidates?

I wonder whether it would help solve some partisan issues if the President and vice President comprised to the top groups of voters. Think about Obama vs Romney. In that election Obama won 51% of the popular vote and Romney won 47%. No matter who won roughly half the population was going to have a administration that pissed them off with no one representing their interests. But if Romney had been made Vice President for coming in 2nd then 98% of the voters would have someone they voted for in one of the two highest offices. It might even help or force the President to work with the Vice President's party to have him there as a partner. We've had Secretaries of State before from an opposing party, but maybe a VP could be a good liaison to the other side.

Wouldn't that be a good thing?

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kmbboots
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1804 Twelfth Ammendment.
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yossarian22c
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As to working together I don't think it would help. Other than breaking ties in the Senate the VP has no authority other than what is given by the President. So Romney as VP would be in charge of landscaping the white house lawn.

Changing back would also raise the motive for politically motivated assassination.

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NobleHunter
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How often do people say a VP was picked to reduce the odds of assassination? I'm pretty sure it's been said about Biden.

At this point, diffusion of power in the Executive seems like a recipe for more dysfunctional government. The desirability of that is left to the reader to determine.

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Fenring
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Has there ever been an assassination of a U.S. President that's been demonstrated to have been a result of a disenchanted member of the other party who didn't like the President's politics? I understand that this is a fear, but has partisan politics hitherto produced an assassin? Or have assassination attempts been of a different type? You might name Booth, but I currently do not believe that he and a group of actors were operating as 'lone gunmen', and in any case the VP was targeted at the same time as well so the 'VP shield' theory doesn't even apply in this case. This is aside from the fact that the aftermath of the Civil War must have been a very bizarre time to live in.

As for the other assassinations or attempts I see no evidence that a single one of them was someone from the other party who wanted to get rid of their political opponent. It seems far more likely that attempts of that sort are either made by mentally unstable people or by 'organizations' that remain hidden (we'll leave it at that).

The assassination angle aside, one would think that having a VP from the other party would actually benefit the other party greatly, since having an incumbent VP running for President would be a benefit not possible under the current system.

From what I just read about the twelfth amendment, part of the problem with the same vote resulting in the election of both President and VP was that electors were trying to manipulate the vote so that instead of spending both votes on the preferred President the electors were using one of the votes for vote for someone else from the party to try to get him to be VP instead of Jefferson. Although this gaming of the system failed, it's somewhat irrelevant anyhow since I don't think it would be possible in this day and age to manipulate voters and to get them to deliberately game the system instead of voting for their top choice or top two choices. It seems like the big hubbub was that the VP was from the other party and I don't think Adams liked it. It sounds like he has some vanity going on and didn't like being VP in the first place, and later on having a VP he didn't want. In short, the problem may have just been Adams, rather than the system.

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yossarian22c
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quote:
Originally posted by Fenring:
Has there ever been an assassination of a U.S. President that's been demonstrated to have been a result of a disenchanted member of the other party who didn't like the President's politics? I understand that this is a fear, but has partisan politics hitherto produced an assassin?

No but an assassination would have almost always resulted in a president with the same politics taking over. The motivation has never been there so the fact that it has never happened isn't surprising.
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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by yossarian22c:
As to working together I don't think it would help. Other than breaking ties in the Senate the VP has no authority other than what is given by the President.

Is that actually true, or is it a truism. I personally, would have found it an improvement in the last Congress to have Romney say in charge of bringing votes to the floor rather than Reid, or deciding if amendments could be proposed on legislation. There was a lot of political protection Reid gave the administration that a hostile VP in charge of the day to day in the Senate would have been able to air. It would have made no difference in what laws were actually passed, but it might have made a world of difference in the public perception of just how offensively partisan the Senate really was.
quote:
Changing back would also raise the motive for politically motivated assassination.
I think this is a reason that can't be avoided, it would actually create an incentive to do this.

It would also leave you with a vice president that was generally less important than any member of the cabinet. And create a risk that the president would represent a large minority, when the vote "split" between two candidates with larger individual support (like say if a green pulled off enough support from a dem, or a conservative from a repub).

Really the best part of it, is it would act against the two party system and make third parties viable.

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yossarian22c
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quote:
Originally posted by Seriati:
quote:
Originally posted by yossarian22c:
As to working together I don't think it would help. Other than breaking ties in the Senate the VP has no authority other than what is given by the President.

Is that actually true, or is it a truism.
Actually true. The VP casts the vote to break ties in the senate but is otherwise prohibited by senate rules from doing anything. I believe it is currently against the Senate rules for the VP to even speak in session other than to cast a tie breaking vote.

Likewise, they have no executive duties unless the President delegates to them.

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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by yossarian22c:
quote:
Originally posted by Seriati:
quote:
Originally posted by yossarian22c:
As to working together I don't think it would help. Other than breaking ties in the Senate the VP has no authority other than what is given by the President.

Is that actually true, or is it a truism.
Actually true.
I think you're confusing custom with requirement. It appears to me that the VP could (and some have) do pretty much everything Harry Reid did. It takes a vote to stop them from doing it, and with even 41 of their party in the Senate they would effectively be unconstrained except for true bipartisan efforts. It's purely in the nature of procedural power, but just the power to call a vote and force a filibuster would be decisive at times.

If you have something other than an assertion that says I'm wrong, I'm interested in hearing it.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Really the best part of it, is it would act against the two party system and make third parties viable.
It wouldn't have any effect on that at all, as long as the baseline is still a single vote system, simple plurality system.
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yossarian22c
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quote:
Originally posted by Seriati:
I think you're confusing custom with requirement. It appears to me that the VP could (and some have) do pretty much everything Harry Reid did. It takes a vote to stop them from doing it, and with even 41 of their party in the Senate they would effectively be unconstrained except for true bipartisan efforts. It's purely in the nature of procedural power, but just the power to call a vote and force a filibuster would be decisive at times.

If you have something other than an assertion that says I'm wrong, I'm interested in hearing it.

From wikipedia:
quote:
Except for this tie-breaking role, the Standing Rules of the Senate vest no significant responsibilities in the Vice President. Rule XIX, which governs debate, does not authorize the Vice President to participate in debate, and grants only to members of the Senate (and, upon appropriate notice, former presidents of the United States) the privilege of addressing the Senate, without granting a similar privilege to the sitting Vice President. Thus, as Time magazine wrote during the controversial tenure of Vice President Charles G. Dawes, "once in four years the Vice President can make a little speech, and then he is done. For four years he then has to sit in the seat of the silent, attending to speeches ponderous or otherwise, of deliberation or humor."[15]
From the senate:

quote:
In the modern Senate, with the exception of his authority to appoint other Senators to preside, the
President pro tempore’s powers as presiding officer differ little from those of the Vice President,
or any other Senator who presides over the Senate. These powers include the authority to
• recognize Senators desiring to speak, introduce bills, or offer amendments and motions to bills being debated. The presiding officer’s power of recognition is much more limited than that of the House Speaker or whoever presides in the House. In the Senate, the presiding officer is required by Rule XIX to recognize the first Senator on his feet and seeking recognition. By tradition, leaders and committee managers are given precedence in recognition;
• decide points of order, subject to appeal by the full Senate;
• appoint Senators to House-Senate conference committees, although this function is largely ministerial. Conferees are almost always first determined by the chairman and ranking member of the standing committee with jurisdiction over
the measure, often in consultation with party leaders. A list of the recommended
appointments is then provided to the chair;
• enforce decorum;
• administer oaths; and
• appoint members to special committees, again, after initial determinations are
made by the majority and minority leaders

I see nothing in there that would allow the VP to call a vote or direct the debate. It looks like at VP could try to play around with appointments to committees but I think actually exerting that power would result in the Senate removing that role as well.
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Seriati
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Thanks that is better. It is a more useless role than I thought.
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Fenring
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See, the problem I have with VP is that it's not really an elected position. While it's true that the vote for President is technically a ticket vote, in practice the VP is almost irrelevant when comparing the two Presidential candidates. There may be exceptions to this, such as the Palin incident, but overall it seems like the Pres is the one who gets the votes. In some cases the VP may be a 'useless' role in his official capacity, but there is the potential for the VP to be much more than that. If we look at Dick Cheney we find that a basically unelected official was at times possibly the chief power in the executive.

The other advantage I could see from having a hostile VP would be possible increased oversight over the activities of the President, since the VP would effectively be a 'spy' for the other party who would report any untoward activity trying to be conducted behind the scenes. They could always try to shut the VP out of it, but if both he and the Secretary of State, for example, were from the opposing party it would be hard to just keep them out of the loop on everything. And of course the tendency is the expect the VP to just be a patsy who only does what the President allows him to do, which negates the possibility that the VP is well connected and could conduct business of his own through his own channels. If the VP was the runner-up from the general election this would certainly be true. Romney as VP, for instance, would have had a lot more clout and influence in daily affairs then Biden ever did.

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