On March 27, Politico Magazine published an article in which the author, Bill Scher argues that Minnesota Senator Al Franken should be the Democrat party’s nominee for Vice President of the United States. Second term Senator and former comedian for Saturday Night Live, Franken on paper doesn’t jump out as an electric pick for the nation’s second highest office. However, Scher argues that Franken is the ideal running mate for the presumptive Democrat Nominee Hillary Clinton, for 3 simple reasons:
1. Energize the left of the party, and keep Progressives from supporting the Green Party
2. Protect the Rust Belt from being won by Donald Trump
3. Help navigate a media environment generated by Donald Trump
The three reasons are valid points, but the question remains, is Franken actually an ideal VP candidate? On paper, the answer is no. Having only served 1.5 terms in the Senate, and previously having no federal government experience, he will be trounced by Republicans as “inexperienced” and “not fit for the White House.” In addition, his career as a comic leads him to possibly be taken less seriously than other political decision makers of our time. Finally, Franken is a middle-aged white male from a state that hasn’t voted Republican since it elected Richard Nixon in 1972. It could be argued that Franken doesn’t offer Clinton an electoral advantage by putting him on the ticket.
Despite each of these reasons that Franken should not be his party’s vice presidential nominee, the three reasons that Scher lays out do have some merit. Firstly, Franken is widely seen as a progressive (in the same camp as Sen. Bernie Sanders), but has been a Hillary Clinton supporter since December of 2014. Scher points out that Franken’s policy positions paired with his Clinton loyalties make him an ideal candidate to connect the progressive grassroots with the Clinton network of establishment liberals. Engaging the grassroots that has been so optimistic about Sander’s message will be critical to ensure disillusioned Democrats don’t stay home from the ballot box or support proven far leftists like Jill Stein, the likely Green Party Candidate.
Donald Trump’s trade position and promise to bring back manufacturing has played well in the Midwest and other places harshly affected by the 2008 financial collapse, but a Franken addition to a Clinton ticket could give Clinton a hand up in an area she desperately needs to do well in. Franken is an economic populist and has voiced his distaste for the TPP trade deal, which is a must for any Democrat VP candidate this election year. Also, being from the Midwest, he has increased appeal to the region Clinton desperately needs to do well in.
Finally, Franken’s experience as a comedian and his witty professionalism make him an optimal candidate to counterattack Trump’s blustery political tactics. He could play the “attack dog” that nominees are looking for in a Vice Presidential candidate, but provides a Midwestern charm that is appealing to voters.
Subscribe to Alpha News as we continue to follow Senator Franken’s rise or demise as a vice presidential candidate.