Following are some extended remarks I made to a friend and colleague today regarding the upcoming important decision of who--in my opinion--Barack Obama should choose as a vice presidential running mate against John McCain in the national election and why...
Obama Needs a Winning National Coalition--Picking a white female running mate would definitely help him with that
John Edwards took a very long time to make a decision and he finally made the right one even though the timing of his choice suggests a certain kind of political opportunism on his part that is not entirely flattering. I still have a great deal of respect for Edwards's politics and I think within the admittedly limited context of the Democratic Party he is a genuine and dedicated progressive (especially on issues of class, labor, and the economy generally). He will be a real and necessary asset for Obama in the general election although I think that Obama's running mate should be a woman (definitely NOT Billary of course) and she should be from a swing state like say Kansas or Missouri. I'm very impressed with both Gov. Kathleen Sebelius from Kansas and Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri. I think they both would make outstanding Vice Presidents and also be of great help to Obama in capturing the national white female vote and female independents generally.
While Edwards is an equally outstanding liberal politician I really don't think that ANYONE could really help Obama get even a small majority of the white male working and lower middle class vote. The fact that the Democratic Party has only received the majority of white male voters ONCE in the last 40 years/ten elections (!)--and then by a very slim margin-- tells me that there is an even far greater chance of Obama not having a snowball's chance in Hades of capturing even a small percentage of the national white male rural and white male suburban vote. On the other hand I think Obama would have a far greater chance of pulling in both former Billary female supporters and the liberal/progressive white female working, middle, and upper middle class vote generally.
Since white females make up the largest voting demographic in the entire country it's clear that if Obama can pull together a loyal national coalition of black, independent, young, and female voters (as well as a solid majority of the Latino vote who also supported Billary in large numbers during the primaries) Obama can easily win the national election against McCain WITHOUT CAPTURING A MAJORITY OF WHITE MALE VOTERS. In fact if Obama can bring off the coalition I mentioned above (and I see absolutely no reason why he couldn't if he made a white female his running mate) then he thankfully WOULDN'T NEED BUT A VERY SMALL MINORITY (25-30%) of the white male vote to win going away.
All I'm saying is that OBAMA CAN'T WIN WITHOUT A SOLID MAJORITY OF WHITE FEMALE VOTERS IN HIS COALITION PRECISELY BECAUSE WHITE MEN AIN'T GONNA VOTE FOR HIM NO MATTER WHO THE VEEP IS. I have no trouble at all with John Edwards as his running mate but I doubt very seriously if even he can steer enough white male voters Obama's way in this election. It's important to note that white male voters in general and crossing every class line have voted solidly Republican 9 out the last 10 presidential elections going back to 1968! That glaring ideological and demographic fact (along with the highly disturbing reality that 65% of ALL WHITE MALE VOTERS VOTED FOR BUSH IN 2004) means that with the added volatile factor of racism thrown into the mix it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that Obama can change this trend (even with Edwards as his VP). This is significant because white male voters make up 40% of the national electorate--a gigantic segment of the national voting population which clearly has to be offset by a much broader coalition of voters.
This is why I insisted (and still do) that it is absolutely imperative that Obama capture a substantial majority of the national white female vote since they make up over 42% of the national electorate and are thus an even stronger and larger force than white males in any national election. Given the fact that even if 85-90% of blacks, independents, Latinos, and youth all voted for Obama HE STILL CAN'T WIN WITHOUT AT LEAST 60% OF THE WHITE FEMALE VOTE . This explains why I lean very much toward a white female Veep who Billary's supporters can trust and feel secure in voting for even if her name isn't "Hillary." Women in general have a huge stake in this election and neither they nor we can afford a McCain presidency to say the least. i think at the end of the day that most women will realize that and will rationally accept a qualified and progressive woman on Obama's ticket who is NOT married to Bill Clinton. If they want a real change in Washington I'm confident they'll realize that a Clinton doesn't have to be on the DP ticket for that change to happen and that any other woman would then not be looked at as a weak surrogate for Hillary but as a strong, independent force on her own who would only enhance Obama's ability to win in November.
I agree that Obama is going to have to be very decisive with his VP pick and that he can't allow himself to worry AT ALL about who he picks no matter what anyone else in his Party says. I think picking a woman would be a wise political move on Obama's part because he needs to think long and hard about just who he CAN and CANNOT depend on to vote for him against McCain. HE CLEARLY CAN'T DEPEND ON WHITE MEN BUT HE MUST DEPEND ON WHITE WOMEN (along with African Americans, Latinos, independents, and youth of course) IF HE WANTS TO WIN. Again, it's called arithmetic...
So if Obama is to win he's going to have to capture the national white female and Latino voting blocs (both of whom have voted very heavily for Billary during this year's DP primaries) and get them to cast their ballots for him in the fight against McCain 'cause he ain't gonna get the white male vote above say 35%. A national coalition of African Americans, white women, Latinos, independents of all nationalities, and the youth vote in general (i.e. 21-30) can easily defeat and even trounce McCain IF it sticks together. If it doesn't and a substantial minority of these voting blocs defect to McCain not only Obama but you, me, this entire country, and the entire world is TOAST (and I mean completely BURNT!).
So it's up to all of us to see that Obama is elected. He ain't perfect or even the absolute optimum candidate by any stretch of the imagination BUT HE IS ALL WE'VE GOT and we all need to put aside whatever "infantile leftist" neuroses, anxieties, indecisiveness, or misgivings any of us "radicals" and "progressives" may have and strongly and unequivocally support Obama for the Presidency. If we waver now and let the unthinkable happen--four to eight more years of rightwing Republican tyranny--we will deserve our doomed collective fate. I know that sounds like exaggerated hyperbole but it's the TRUTH and if we don't heed the glaring lessons of History in this election year we will all live to regret it
Governor Kathleen Sebelius Biography
Pledging independent leadership to move Kansas forward, in 2003 Kathleen Sebelius
became the 44th Governor of the State of Kansas. Governor Sebelius was reelected to
a second term in 2006.
At the heart of Governor Sebelius' administration is a commitment to growing the Kansas
economy and creating jobs; ensuring every Kansas child receives a quality education;
protecting Kansas families and communities; improving access to quality, affordable health care; and taking advantage of the state's renewable energy assets.
Through a commitment to making the state's business climate more attractive - and by
balancing the state budget without raising taxes - the Kansas economy has rebounded
resulting in low unemployment and the creation of thousands of new jobs.
Because good schools equal good jobs and a growing economy, Governor Sebelius has
made improving public education a priority. During her first term the state made a historic
commitment to Kansas' schoolchildren, and in her second term, Sebelius has strengthened
that commitment, proposing significant funding increases for early childhood learning and
Another responsibility is to keep Kansas communities safe. Governor Sebelius works closely
with Kansas first responders and law enforcement to prepare for natural disasters and other
emergencies. In order to enhance the safety and security of Kansas citizens, the Governor
proposed the creation of five regional training centers for first responders and Kansas
National Guard personnel.
Since the rising cost of health care is a threat to families and businesses, the Governor is
working to ensure Kansans have access to quality and affordable health care. She's also
proposed providing health insurance to every uninsured Kansas child from birth to age five
in order to give these children a healthy start on life.
Sebelius believes Kansas must take advantage of its enormous potential for renewable
energy production. She's working with business and community leaders, utilities, and local
governments to promote wind energy and biofuels production in Kansas, as well as expanded
energy efficiency and conservation efforts.
Governor Sebelius serves on the National Governors Association's Executive Committee
and is co-chair of the National Governors Association's initiative, Securing a Clean Energy
Future. Sebelius chairs the Education Commission of the States and as past chair of the
Democratic Governors Association, she currently serves on the DGA Executive Committee.
Married to husband, Gary, a federal magistrate judge, for 33 years, they have two sons:
Ned and John. Both Sebelius boys are products of the Topeka public school system,
pre-kindergarten through high school. Ned is a law student, and John is a graduate of the
Rhode Island School of Design.
Sebelius is the first daughter of a Governor (John Gilligan, Ohio, 1971-1975) in U.S. history to be elected to that same position.