By Justin Chermol
Although shows like 'VEEP' have depicted the role of the vice president of the United States as that of a figurehead, or more bluntly, a runner-up to the big job in the White House, Vice.run wants people to consider the importance of an independently elected second-in-command.
And the movement is catching on.
"A majority of people prefer a democratically elected vice president, reclaiming our 12th Amendment rights," Dave Blake, co-founder of Vice.run told Cheddar on Monday. In a nationwide poll conducted recently by Vice.run, 53 percent of Americans said they prefer a more democratic approach to the election of the someone to the role.
The organization claims that having an independently-elected vice president would strengthen U.S. democracy by giving voters a higher level of direct control over the executive branch and would temper the partisanship of the president.
Vice.run is working to receive 865,000 signatures nationally to add a separate line for vice presidential candidates on state ballots. They already crossed the threshold of pledges needed for an independent vice presidential slot on the ballot in Utah, Blake said.
With 2020 quickly becoming the most highly anticipated election of the 21st century ー as 23 Democratic hopefuls jockey to oust President Donald Trump ー changes to the ballot could bring a fresh sentiment to the election.
"Mike Pence, in his two plus years, has already cast more tie-breaking votes than any vice president since 1841," Blake said.
In the Trump administration, Pence has been a polarizing figure and faced scrutiny for his ties to big business and his claimed religious views, which are considered notoriously anti-gay. Just this weekend, hundreds of students and faculty members at Taylor University in Pence's home state of Indiana protested his commencement address. Roughly a dozen people in attendance walked out when he made overt appeals to religion.
"The office is uniquely suited to unity ー to being a unifier-in-chief, to being a domestic diplomat. It's the only office in our entire government that sits in two branches, being the senior most legislator, and the junior executive," Blake said. "What we do believe is that right now the vice president is affecting a lot of major legislation, and we have a right to have that be a representative of us, not a presidential proxy."
Several 2020 candidates, such a Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have called for reforms to the presidential elections and for the abolition of the Electoral College.
Yet Vice.run says no major overhaul or constitutional amendment would be needed for their cause. Rather, the 12th Amendment already provides grounds for an independently-elected vice president. Ratified in 1804, four years after an electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, the 12th Amendment mandated that the Electoral College also cast separate votes for a vice president.
"People value their rights, and not everyone knows that we have that right," Blake added, emphasizing the constitutionality of the option.
For full interview click here.