Michelle Obama’s presence on the ticket would be big boost for Biden
A new Netflix documentary on Michelle Obama airs this Wednesday. The film recounts the promotional tour for her memoir “Becoming,” which has sold more than ten million copies.
The avalanche of hype about the show will kick off another wave of speculation about her future in national politics and even the possibility that the former first lady will run for vice president on a ticket with Joe Biden.
Biden faces many challenges in his fight to deny Donald Trump another term as president. But these challenges would be easier to overcome if the former first lady is his running mate.
Political scientists often say that the power of the presidency is the power to persuade. Constitutionally, presidents have limited powers and their authority is constrained by the co-equal legislative and judicial branches of the federal government. The success of presidents is a function of their ability to convince people to do things that they really do not need or want to do.
It will be difficult for Biden to convince Michelle Obama to run for vice president. But if the Democratic nominee succeeded in getting her to make the race, it would be a major political coup for him and proof he has the powers of persuasion necessary to be a successful president.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said that he would take the former first lady as his running mate in a “heartbeat.” But in her best-selling memoir, “Becoming,” she wrote that she has no interest in ever running for office.
Obama has made it clear that she does not want the job. But it would be difficult for her to say no if the presumptive Democratic nominee came to her and said that her presence on the ticket would make or break Donald Trump and present an opportunity to restore the legacy of the Obama presidency.
Michelle Obama has many reasons to avoid partisan political conflict, but she also has plenty of reasons to engage fully in the 2020 campaign against Donald Trump. She is more interested in promoting causes like nutrition and vote by mail than she is in pursuing partisan politics. But partisan politics has a nasty way of intruding upon the causes she holds so dear.
Much of the Trump presidency has been devoted to reversing the achievements of the Obama administration. Especially noteworthy have been the Trump administration’s attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and to undermine the Obama environmental initiatives to fight climate change.
The coronavirus crisis has accentuated the concern about health care that already existed before the pandemic struck. Neither the president nor his party has a plan to provide health care insurance coverage to the people in dire need of it. Joe Biden has a plan that would significantly extend the reach of Obamacare, which is the signature achievement of the Obama presidency and a cause near and dear to Michelle Obama’s heart.
The president has even attempted to reverse Michelle Obama’s campaign as first lady to improve nutrition for elementary and high school students and to provide healthy food for everyone. Obama has become a champion of vote by mail, which the president and his party vehemently oppose.
The conventional wisdom about a vice presidential pick is that the choice should do no harm. None of the rumored Biden choices for his running mate would do any harm. But why settle for no harm when you can do a lot of good with your choice?
An April national survey for The Economist by YouGov showed that Michelle Obama was much more intensely popular than any of the other possible Democratic vice presidential nominees. Three quarters (73 percent) of Democratic primary voters have a very favorable opinion of Obama. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren came in a distant second (47 percent).
There is much to be said for Michelle Obama’s entrance into the political arena. She has been chosen twice by the Gallup Poll as America’s most admired woman. A “no drama” Obama on the Democratic national ticket would be a welcome respite from the daily Trump administration theatrical sideshow. There was hardly any hint of wrongdoing during the Obama years in the White House and that would offer a vivid Democratic contrast to the scandal ridden Trump regime.
What you will get if Biden asks and Obama accepts is a strong campaigner with a commitment to her own values and a desire to preserve and even extend the Obama legacy. What more can you ask for in a running mate, anyway?
Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Dateline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon
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