Meanwhile at the other side of the planet the Americans are going through the long process of deciding who will be the most powerful person the next 4 years. I follow this with great interest. Not only is it obviously more important than anything I get to vote for, but it is also with all the warts a relatively open way to pick a leader. In most democracies the two leading parties each nominate one guy and you get to vote between them. In the US arguably this time around there were 5 persons with somewhat of a chance to win.
Of course there are still three left and I am not too unhappy with those three. Clinton, Obama and McCain all look better than any candidate I’ve seen since, well, Clinton. I still have strong preferences, but it is not the usual best of evil kinda situation. For the Democrats it seems this is really the problem. They seem to have great trouble picking the best out of two decent candidates and even run the risk of losing the election this way. As long as they are taking aim at each other, McCain can quietly raise money. So what to do.
Here’s my plan. Bill Clinton already suggested that they should combine and obviously he’s thinking his wife president and Obama vice-president. I’m sure Obama would accept such a deal if the roles were swapped. The solution to that seems simple; they make a pact now that whoever has the most votes at the end of the primary, gets the top spot on the ticket. I have one more suggestion though: add to the deal that in four years time, they’ll rerun with the ticket reversed. So if Obama runs for president now, in four years it will be Clinton with him as vice. And then four years later again, you can switch again.
This way you can’t lose. Both sides have a strong motivation to support the ticket even if their person ends up on the second spot, since is not waiting 8 years and then maybe, but a guarantee for a position 4 years later that is almost impossible to get otherwise. Plus the sniping will stop, which will help both sides. Add up the combined war chests and what’s the Republican Party got to do? If the Democratic Party had played it like this, Al Gore would now be president.
So why 12 and not 16 years? Simple. If you have been president for 8, you can’t be vice president anymore.