For the first few decades of the United States, the losing candidate in a presidential election became Vice President. The 12th amendment in 1804 changed that. In a divided America, maybe we should give the original system a second look.
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What to know: For the first three US presidential elections, the runner-up became VP. The 12th amendment rewrote the rules in 1804 so that candidates ran with a running mate. Electors are required to submit one electoral vote for a candidate, and one electoral vote for a candidate’s running mate.
Something to consider: Five out of six elections since 2000 came within 4 percent of the popular vote. If there is a slim margin of victory, perhaps a divided America would be better off with the original electoral system.
Picture this: A climate-focused Gore sitting in during the Bush years, or a foreign-savvy Clinton sitting at the table during the Trump circus. What could Trump do to help Biden’s economic recovery bid?
Bottom line: We all know the American republic is under scrutiny. Our divisive two-party system, though highly profitable for Big tech and media, is at its breaking point. In a close race, allowing a runner-up candidate to serve as veep could help quell the American political fire.
Dig deeper 🠒 2 min
The 1796 election resulted in a split ticket between John Adams (president) and Thomas Jefferson (vice president). The 1800 election resulted in a tie between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Jefferson ended up winning the tiebreaker after a vote in the House, and Burr, the losing candidate, became VP.
Following the 1800 election, Congress ratified the 12th amendment, requiring each member of the Electoral College to submit one electoral vote for both the president and vice president.
Why Congress changed rules for the losing candidate
After some heated elections in 1796 and 1800, Congress felt like two opposing candidates in the White House was counter-productive. But in today’s divided political climate, in a disputed election, that might be exactly what we need.
America, split down the middle
If this election season teaches us anything, it’s that American politics lie smack in the center. 76.3 million Americans voted for Biden, but Trump still increased his 2016 popular vote count by 9 million at around 71.6 million. If you remove the deep blue state of California, Trump would virtually tie Biden in popular vote. The Republicans gained seats in the House, while holding its majority in the Senate. Unprecedented Blacks and Hispanics voted Republican in 2020, highlighting the increasing difficulty of tying identity to voting behavior.
With the prevalence of social media, our personal belief system is at an all time high. Meanwhile, our trust in government/media is at an all time low. Millions of Americans are disappointed with the media’s handling of the election. Millions of Americans are not convinced Biden has won. These factors foment a divided political climate spurred by civil unrest, mutual condemnation and an overall dissatisfaction with institutions.
Reconsidering the 12th amendment
What if Hillary Clinton, the losing candidate in 2016, was Donald Trump’s VP? What if Donald Trump was Joe Biden’s VP? For elections that fall within a narrow margin in the popular vote – it might be in America’s best interest to put aside the two-party system. We should invite a divided White House.
Since 2000, four out of six presidential elections have fallen within 3 million votes. The 2012 race between Romney and Obama fell within 5 million votes. Five of those six elections came within 4 percent of the popular vote. In two of those elections, the winning president lost the popular vote. President Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 and President Trump lost it in 2016.
What could Gore accomplish as a VP under the Bush administration? How could Clinton aid foreign relations for the Trump administration? Where could Trump help economic recovery under a Biden administration?
We talk a lot about the need for checks and balances in our government. Wouldn’t this be the ultimate check on the American vote? As Trump fights legal battles, more tension will unfolds in the coming weeks. Whether it’s term limits, campaign law reform, or more political parties, I think we can all agree something needs to change.