Why Adam Kinzinger Should Be the Democratic Running Mate in 2024
In last week’s TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less, I argued for why Joe Biden should not be the Democratic nominee for President in 2024 and then left off with a dramatic cliffhanger for this week’s column, suggesting that I would reveal who should be part of the Democratic ticket in 2024. While I am still not sure who the 2024 Democratic nominee will be, I do know who their running mate should be: none other than Republican Illinois Congressman, Adam Kinzinger.
Ok, pipe down there, my liberal fans who have your arms raised in defiance, shouting at the top of your lungs that I am a traitor to Democratic ideals. I am not setting aside my Democratic leanings, nor am I selling out to more conservative politics. Rather, I see this move as a way to push those progressive ideals forward and just possibly rescue our beleaguered democracy from the brink of dissolution and seemingly inevitable Civil War.
Kinzinger has already announced that he will not run for re-election in 2022, stepping down in order to take on a “broader fight nationwide” against the Trumpism that has bespoiled the Republican Party he once knew and believed in. That said, Kinzinger emphasized in his announcement from October of last year that he very much plans to stay in the realm of politics, “I want to make clear: This isn’t the end of my political future, but the beginning.” That very much sounds like a politician looking for a promotion, one who also knows that his district has been gerrymandered in such a way that makes his viability of running against a Trump-supporting primary challenger pretty much untenable. But it is just that middle of the road political stance that would doom him in a local congressional district race that would make him such a verisimilar candidate in a national election.
So why should the Democrats contemplate putting forth the first multi-party presidential ticket since the Civil War? Well, as I addressed in last week’s column, the Democrats are set to get their proverbial asses kicked in the 2022 midterms due to the economic albatross that Republicans are more than eager to hang around their necks. Fairly or not, Democrats are likely to bear the burden for the recent economic downturn well into the 2024 presidential campaign. With an entire faction of the Republican Party hellbent on overthrowing democratic principles themselves and running roughshod over the the personal liberties of American citizens, it is imperative that we keep Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis or whatever other power hungry nutbag the Republicans throw out there out of the Oval Office. In this highly polarized environment of modern American Politics, the majority of American voters who already align with one party or the other will vote their party line regardless of who the actual candidate might be. As such, the key to winning the 2024 presidential contest lies in attracting independent voters. And that’s where tapping Kinzinger for the VP position could be instrumental in Democrats retaining control of the White House.
Let’s face it- Americans are sick and tired of the partisan politics that have mired this country in a bureaucratic inertia where absolutely nothing changes. They are fed up with a system that feels broken and unresponsive to their needs. They know the fallibilities and gamesmanship of our two-party system and want Democrats and Republicans to put aside their differences once and for all and finally get some shit done, to work together to solve the mounting challenges facing our nation. Leaning across the aisle to pick Kinzinger as the VP candidate would go a long way in providing at least a symbolic gesture to the American public that Democrats are sincere in offering up an olive branch to Republicans and finding a path forward in solidarity for the benefit of the nation rather than just their own personal political careers.
I doubt this will convince any of the hard-core Trump voters to cast a ballot for a Democratic president, but it might just be enough to convince a few of the old school Republicans, those who have seen what Trump has done to this country through his own selfish ego and can no longer be party to the Republican assault on democracy, to find a more common sense, middle ground option. More important, it would likely sway independent voters, those already wary of the divisive nature of modern politics, to support a ticket that is trying to forge a path forward for genuine bipartisanship. It would virtually assure a Democratic victory in 2024 and keep any of the would-be Republican autocrats out of the White House and prevent them from perpetuating any further damage to our democratic institutions.
I know, of course, that the position would be largely emblematic, but hey, isn’t that the point? Vice Presidents usually serve about as much purpose as a raincoat in the Sahara, so Kinzinger would not have much voice in the administration’s actual agenda anyway. Listen, I am no fan of Kinzinger’s stances on gun control, abortion, or tax cuts for the wealthy, but at least he is a reasonable political figure who has the integrity to stand up to what he knows to be implicitly wrong, even at the risk of his own political future. He has become something of a folk hero as of late to many Democrats by serving as one of the only two Republicans on the Congressional January 6th Commission. This came after being one of only a handful of Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment. I may not agree with many of Kinzinger’s policy perspectives, but I know he puts country before self and is committed to finding a path forward for our nation. Putting him on the 2024 Democratic ticket would remind all of us of a not-so-distant past where members of both parties worked together through dialogue and compromise to achieve legislative action for their constituents. Is my idea nothing more than pie-in-the-sky idealism unlikely to come to fruition? Maybe. But Democrats would be wise to consider such an option lest their own hopes for 2024 become nothing more than that as well.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com