Who will be Bernie’s running mate if he wins the 2020 nomination?
Bernie Sanders is very likely to run for the 2020 Democratic Party nomination, and he is likely to win it too. For progressives who feel convinced, or at least hopeful, that both of these things will happen, the only question that remains regarding 2020 is: who will Bernie’s Vice Presidential pick be?
A Vice Presidential pick should provide some contrast to the candidate; although they should be ideologically in a similar ball-park, it provides an opportunity to provide an olive branch to a part of the base which is less comfortable with the candidate. In Bernie’s case, these would most likely be voters who have more faith in the established system, minority voters, and older voters. Also, given Bernie’s age (he will be 79 in 2020), there is a lot of reason to consider a younger running mate. There are also reasons to consider a VP who is already serving in elected office. Three names are already on every progressive’s lips as potential running mates for Bernie, and I have one suggestion of my own at the end who I think should also be in the conversation.
Former Ohio State Senator and head of Bernie Sanders’ organisation Our Revolution Nina Turner is very much a likely choice for Vice President. She is young, progressive to the core, adds diversity to the ticket, and she gives great, rousing speeches. Her shortfalls may be in a lack of name recognition outside of Sanders’ base, and having not held elected office more prominent than as a senator at the state level — although this means that if she were asked to be a VP she would not have to consider no longer representing any constituents, unlike the other women on this list.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a representative from Hawaii, was, like Nina Turner, a key part of Bernie’s inner circle in 2016. She’s also young and progressive to the core, adds diversity to the ticket, and brings foreign policy experience to the table as she is a former Iraq War Veteran. She endeared herself with the progressive base by boldly quitting the DNC Vice-Chair position to endorse Bernie Sanders in 2016.Whilst some of her history is a little patchy, such as on gay rights, Bernie’s base is incredibly fond of her, and she would not be a surprising choice for his Vice Presidential pick.
Elizabeth Warren is often seen as the second-most progressive Democrat in the senate after Bernie Sanders, and has the best name recognition by far of anyone on this list. She has true progressive bona fides through creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, amongst other things, but there are a number of downsides to her too to consider. Firstly, she is also quite old — she will be over 70 in 2020, and secondly, many progressives, rightly or wrongly, have their doubts about her. From not endorsing Bernie in the 2016 primary, to never going to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, she’s tried to straddle the establishment and populist camps of the Democrat party, and finds herself loved by neither. Still, there are political mistakes and highlight a lack of leadership, rather than disagreement with progressives on policy, so these are wounds that could certainly heal should she be chosen as VP.
The final name on the list is maybe little-known now, but could well be in a spot to find herself on the ticket in 2020. Her name is Paula Jean Swearingen, and is primarying Senator Joe Manchin III in West Virginia from the left. As someone running on a platform which includes getting money out of politics, amongst other progressive priorities which were championed by Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary campaign, she would easily be the most progressive member of the senate alongside Bernie by the time the primary comes around in 2019. She’s young, and would be a progressive populist representing a state that went heavily for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, like Nina Turner from Ohio, highlighting how progressives can win anywhere and represent the interests of working people. However, her lack of experience from only having been in the senate for a year or two by the time she would be chosen as Vice President is a downside, and she most certainly may wish to continue representing her constituents in the senate instead. Nonetheless, picking her would be a strong statement which would satisfy the base, and would represent a doubling down on a strongly progressive ticket.
All of these potential candidates have their upsides and their flaws, and some may not want the position, but I surmise that these are amongst the most likely possibilities for Bernie’s 2020 running mate, from this vantage point in 2017.