Much esteem due the VP?

Often overlooked, the second in command serves a very important role

RUNNING MATE — Governor Mike Pence visited Convocation Wednesday, Oct. 12. Photo Credit:  Michela Diddle

RUNNING MATE — Governor Mike Pence visited Convocation Wednesday, Oct. 12.
Photo Credit: Michela Diddle

Classes were cancelled for the morning.

Secret service scans started at 7 a.m. in anticipation for Gov. Mike Pence’s arrival at Convocation.

Yet the expectation for a packed auditorium fell short.

If those seemingly empty seats two weeks ago gave any serious indication of the Trump campaign’s struggling state, then perhaps vice presidential nominee is not quite the saving gem that many conservative, Christian voters have desperately painted him out to be.

As a more comical symbol of the nation’s political cynicism, Saturday Night Live’s latest parody of the vice presidential debate this month lasted all of two minutes before getting cut off by a sketch of a special report on Donald Trump’s drama, the “real” news.

It is a wry depiction of the public’s general interest in vice presidential candidates and debates.

It is also a telling representation of how we as voters tend to view the vice president’s place both in the election and the entire nation’s governance.

Yet Pence has seemed to be the linchpin holding many a grudging conservative vote for Trump.

I know several people who choke out the words “Voting for Trump,” and quickly follow it with “but also Pence!” like a sigh of relief.

A friend of mine stated the overall sentiment bluntly in a recent conversation of ours: “Pence is literally the only good thing Trump’s got going for him.”

How much esteem is actually due to a prospective vice president, especially for this election?

Is it enough to garner votes for a less-than-stellar candidate?

Or is the vice president simply, for lack of a more tasteful expression, political arm candy to a hopeful president?

According to a Wall Street Journal graphic depicting a mash-up of surveys throughout the election year, 74 percent of registered voters said “a presidential candidate’s choice of running mate has no effect on their vote.”

Politico magazine published an article in April discussing the overly-optimistic assumption that a vice presidential candidate attracts significant votes from his or her home state.

But after analyzing states’ voting trends and collecting survey data provided by the American National Election Studies, the authors concluded that while “presidential candidates typically enjoy a home-state advantage (approximately 3 points to 7 points), vice presidential candidates generally do not. … Statistically speaking, the effect is zero.”

The likelihood of the vice president later succeeding his or her running mate as president is never a completely far-off possibility, and with either one of our current candidates for commander in chief, the likelihood could be an even closer reality than we can imagine.

Seventy-year-old Donald Trump and 68-year-old Hillary Clinton are the oldest presidential candidates in American history.

They also happen to be some of our most scandal-ridden, and thus, potentially our most impeachable.

The White House website notes that the vice president’s primary role, aside from providing a tiebreaker vote in the Senate, is to carry on the president’s duties if the president is somehow unable to.

“This can be because of the president’s death, resignation or temporary incapacitation,” the website said, “or if the vice president and a majority of the cabinet judge that the president is no longer able to discharge the duties of the presidency.”

I find that the vice president serves a lesser-considered but deeply important role from his selection, throughout the campaign and up to the inauguration.

A president will only be as effective as those he or she surrounds himself or herself with.

The selection of vice president is one of the first, rare glimpses we voters get into the actual administrative judgement of the resident-to-be.

While, it is often only an indication of the most minimal scope, let it not fall to the wayside of critical observation.

Vice presidents serve more purpose than just to wait around for the president to die.

Let us not relegate either Pence or Kaine to that one role, and let us take their presence in this campaign, in this chapter of history, almost as seriously as we do their running mates.

The author refused to reveal which candidate she is supporting for president.

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Jarrett is an opinion writer.

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