Just when you thought that this cycle’s presidential election couldn’t get more bizarre, it has. You could not make this up. Even Oliver Stone, the conspiracy king, would not make this movie. The latest episode with Hillary’s health has brought up the intriguing and unprecedented question of the procedure of replacing her on the ticket. According to Dan Fowler, former head of the DNC under President Clinton, the committee should at least be considering a contingency plan, and, perhaps, it is.
Who has the authority to do it? What are the procedures? Who would be her replacement? What would be the impact on the election? All good questions. I had the same ones, so I followed the advice of the late Casey Stengel. I looked it up. Read on for the answers.
The purpose of this blog is not to debate the worthiness or health of the candidate, except that I wish she and her inner circle were more forthcoming about what, if anything, is wrong with her. My main focus is on the answers to the above questions, of which all voters should be cognizant. So, here we go:
- We would be in uncharted territory, as we have never had a presidential nominee die or withdraw before the election, nor a president-elect do so before taking the oath of office. Therefore, most of us will learn as we go.
- The first, and most important, fact is that Hillary would have to relinquish the nomination voluntarily. According to Elaine Kamarck, senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, no person or committee has the authority to wrest it from her.
- Officially, Hillary would not be able to select her replacement. According to Article 1, Section 3 of its bylaws, that authority and responsibility falls to the DNC. The chairman would call a special meeting at which the majority present, in person or by proxy, would select the replacement. Of course, the committee may choose to consult with Clinton, and probably, would do so.
- The DNC consists of 350 members, all political “insiders.” Roughly 200 are chosen by the individual state party apparatuses; the remainder consists of various party leaders. Thus, ironically, the nomination would be determined in the proverbial “smoke filled room” by a group of political elites, just what we have been trying to get away from.
- The nomination would not automatically fall to Bernie Sanders, as the second place vote-getter, nor to Tim Kaine, as the VP nominee, as some have speculated. Theoretically, anyone could be selected, although the committee would likely choose someone whom they felt would have the best chance of defeating Trump. In my opinion, that would be an experienced politician with a high profile who is well-liked, or at least not disliked.
- The only two Dems I can think of who fit that criteria are Joe Biden or John Kerry, although there may be others.
- If Kaine were to be selected, the committee would then choose another nominee to replace him as VP.
- Bernie Sanders would likely stake his claim, and his supporters would be most vociferous in their support. The committee would likely take this into account, and, in the interest of party unity, if it were to bypass Sanders, it would be well advised to ensure that its choice would at least be acceptable to his supporters and him.
- Many of you may not realize that technically the voters do not choose the president and vice-president directly. Rather, they vote for electors who are pledged to those candidates. Furthermore, in some states those electors are not legally required to follow through and vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged.
- Confused yet? There’s more.
- If a vacancy were to occur after the election but before the Electoral College meets to vote officially (generally, in December) the party can still select a replacement.
- If a nominee were to die or step down after the Electoral College has voted but before the new president has been sworn in the VP elect would become the president elect, but there is a further wrinkle. If this were to occur before Congress has convened to “count” the electoral votes it could decide to invalidate some votes, or even refer the decision to the House of Representatives.
- Thus, the will of the people could be circumvented. Far fetched, but possible.
This situation raises the question in my mind of what the DNC knew relative to Hillary’s health, and when did they know it. For instance, were they and key political insiders and supporters cognizant of it during the nomination process? There is speculation to the affirmative.
That is a discussion for another day. In my opinion, the sooner this situation is resolved the better. The DNC should get to the bottom of Hillary’s physical condition asap. Moreover, her health status should be reported, in full, to the American people asap. If she has to be replaced, so be it, and the sooner the better. We do not want to become embroiled in any of the above scenarios. Even worse, the last thing we want or need is to elect a person who has serious health issues that will hamper her ability to fulfill the duties of the office.
This situation is bad not just for Clinton and the Dems; it is bad for the American people as a whole. I think we all want a “clean” election that is decided by the will of the people “fair and square.”