Bernie Sanders on Meet the Press on May 28 argued that if Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination for president, she must pick a “hardline progressive” as her running mate in order to win over the growing progressive base. I agree and offer some choices from which to choose.
The Democratic Party needs a vice presidential candidate who is likeable and trustworthy, can ignite passion within the Party, energize the Sanders base and minorities and out trump Donald Trump’s rhetoric. There are five good progressive choices who would meet these needs. Four of the five hold law degrees. Their backgrounds vary from a son of a Mexican immigrant, son of former sharecroppers, an African American woman and a former comedic actor and political activist. The five are not in any particular order.
Congressman Xavier Becerra (D.CA), a Latino and former California Deputy Attorney General, has served in Congress since 1993. He is currently Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. His leadership in the Democratic Caucus and as the first Latino on the Ways and Means Committee helps to advance legislation on issues affecting working class families, women, minorities, seniors and the working poor. Rep. Becerra stands in sharp contrast to the derogatory comments made by Donald Trump about Mexicans and building a wall. Becerra’s mother immigrated from Mexico. And Rep. Becerra would help to make a strong showing among Hispanic voters.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D. MA) is the person whom many progressives urged to run for president. Senator Warren, after hearing that Donald Trump is the likely GOP nominee, says she will fight her heart out to make sure Trump never reaches the White House. One way to likely ensure Trump from reaching his goal is to place Senator Warren on the Democratic ticket. Senator Warren, known for her fierce stance to hold Wall Street and big banks accountable and fighting for working families, would energize the Democratic base in ways that Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders cannot do.
Minnesota Senator Al Franken, serving since 2009 and a Hillary Clinton surrogate, would be poised to do combat with Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump in ways that Hillary Clinton’s personality would not allow. Sen. Franken, a former comedic actor on Saturday Night Live for many years and a progressive political activist, would be able to combat Trump with an entertaining style and strongly hit him on progressive issues–a two-fer.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris is the first woman, first African American and first South Asian American to become her state’s attorney general. Although she is running for retiring Senator Barbara Boxer’s seat, currently she is a non-Washington politician, a plus for those opposed to Washington politicians. In 2012, African American women were the highest voting block of any other group in the U.S. and overwhelming voted Democratic. And in 2016, African American women will need to vote at the same rate to help ensure a Democratic win. Having Harris on the Democratic ticket as vice president may help to get more African Americans and minority women voters to the polls.
Congressman Elijah Cummings (D. MD), a twenty year lawmaker rounds out the list. With full disclosure as a Baltimore native, I have known Congressman Cummings for many years. Rep. Cummings, a son of sharecroppers, served as the highest ranking Democrat on the House Select Committee on Benghazi where he unleashed an attack on Republicans for wasting taxpayer money on a witch hunt of Hillary Clinton. Rep. Cummings is the ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He knows and understands firsthand the issues of income and wealth inequality, gun violence, police violence as well as the inner workings of Washington politics. Rep. Cummings would make a fitting vice president candidate who could voice unbridled attacks on Trump.
I urge the Democratic Party to nominate a progressive as its vice presidential candidate. With Donald Trump’s racist, sexist and xenophobic rants, the stakes are too high to play it safe this year. The Democratic Party cannot play by old rules and expect to win in 2016.
UPDATE: An earlier version appears in the
Huffington Post on May 5 and listed Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison instead of Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and read:
Congressman Keith Ellison (D. MN), the first Muslim elected to serve in Congress would also make a good choice. Rep. Ellison serves on the House Financial Services Committee which oversees Wall Street, banking and housing. Congressman Ellison, Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a lawyer and former community activist has long fought for consumer justice, civil and human rights and prosperity for working families. If Ellison became the nominee, the Democratic Party would make a strong statement against the platform of GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric on exclusion of Muslims.
UPDATE: On May 30, the first paragraph was added to reflect the views of Bernie Sanders on Meet the Press.
The original post was posted on May 4, 2016.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal/political analyst and former prosecutor. Her Op Ed articles appear in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and Huffington Post.